By ELIAS LARI
A MAN who claims to have planted at least one tree a day for the past 32 years estimates that more than 30,000 trees are now growing because of that hobby.
Willie Womdi, 56, from Penda in the Dei district of Western Highlands, said he began planting trees in 1986.
He is married with seven children and hails from the Walgapka tribe.
He started off by planting up to six trees a day and after looking at the result, he decided to continue the practice.
He said by 1996, he realised that he had planted thousands of different types of trees.
In 2016, officers from the Forest Department visited the area where he had been planting trees. They recommended that he visited the department in Port Moresby to share his story.
He spent four weeks with the department and was given a certificate to recognise what he was doing.
He used the money he earned from his coffee garden to buy seedlings. He was also assisted by the Forest department office in Mt Hagen with seedlings.
Womdi told The National in Dei on Sunday that he did not know the importance of trees then.
He now appreciates their value and how can earn money from it.
He donates some trees – as his tithe – to be used to build churches and pastors’ houses.
Some of his gum trees have been bought by PNG Power to be used as power poles to supply electricity to North Waghi in Jiwaka.
“I will continue to plant more trees,” Womdi said.
He also hopes that the government can help get a loan from the National Development Bank like what farmers and small to medium-sized entrepreneurs are getting.
“If there are loans given out to forestry, then I will apply,” Womdi said. He has planted more than 20 hectares of trees and will continue if he receives support and assistance by authorities.
By ELIAS LARI