Monday, July 21, 2008

Plans to build hotel in famous Lae Botanical Garden kick up a stink

(Note: If you wish to make a comment on this burning issue, click comments at the bottom of this posting)

Talks going on between the Forest Ministry and a private company to build a hotel in the middle of the famous Lae Botanical Garden have kicked up a stink.

Forestry Minister Belden Namah revealed in Parliament last week that his Ministry was making K7 million available to rehabilitate the Lae BotanicalGarden.

He said the plan to build the hotel was purposely to make the Lae Botanical Garden, which is one of the Papua New Guinea's biggest of its type, to sustain itself because for many years the Government had neglected this most-beautiful botanical gardens in the country.

Mr Namah said his ministry was in the process of signing the agreement between the company, the Morobe Provincial Government and the Forest Ministry for the proposed hotel development.

"The Government will now be making available K7 million to rehabilitate the botanical gardens and on top of that, there is a plan to give more than K100 million towards the proposed hotel project in the middle of the Lae Botanical Garden," he said.

B. Javanese wrote: “The proposal put forward by the PNG Gardener to have a five-star
hotel right in the heart of the botanical garden as part of rejuvenating the gardens as a tourist attraction is seen as a blatant blow to the purpose this garden exists for.

“ I am sure if he puts up a hotel, all the grass roots will be stopped outright from going in and out for family reunions, meetings, sightseeing and other picnics and activities.

“I propose the garden be left as it is and just work on putting up facilities and upgrading the beautification of the gardens.

“Income from the hotel will not at all sustain it.

“It is a public facility for the people of PNG and should be maintained at the expense of the taxpayers of this country and not be given to private companies.

“ If that happens the primary reason why the garden exists will be defeated.”

Max Kuduk wrote: “While on the face of it, the idea might be a good one, there seems be something that does not add.

“The Government putting up K7 million for garden re-development and K100 million for hotel development?

“ Does not seem like a kosher deal to me.”

Former PNG Forest Authority staffer Dr Osia Gideon wrote: “This is the most outrageous proposal I have ever seen.

“We never seem to learn!

“ Who will own the hotel when constructed?

“How many government business ventures have been running profitably over the

“Almost none.

“ Like Max I sense a very fishy deal, tailored for someone's benefit.

“Every Papua New Guinea must oppose this proposal.

“The National Botanical Garden belongs to the people of Papua New Guinea, and must remain that way.

“ Too much public land and property has gone to individuals with political connections.

Dr Simon Saulei of the University of PNG: “Like Dr Gideon, I am very concern about this outrageous proposal.

“Why not spend that K10 or so millions on upgrading the gradens than building a hotel?

“ I have more to say but let us see this proposal and make our comments on it or better still front up with the Minister and tell him and his Morobe counterpart about the purpose of the garden and what really needs to be done and be sustained over a longer period of time.”

Laden wrote: “There are few facts that minister Nama and his forestry advisors need to know about Botanical Garden.

“Lae National Botanic garden is about 0.00002 % of the PNG’s current forested land area (29473000 ha).

“This is a very tiny piece of forest area by comparison yet it houses an estimated; 5-10% of all the plant species occurring on the island of New Guinea.

“About 2% of these plant are endemic to the island of New Guinea (found nowhere else in the world).

“The garden also holds remnant flora from one of the world’s oldest land mass, namely; Madagascar.

“The garden is very unique in many facets.

“For example, it is the only piece of land in Lae that remains to this day to tell of the kind of native flora of the LAHI tribal land, it is the only botanical garden in the entire PNG that has both the montane and lowland forest species coexisting, it is the only place in PNG that our children and their children can get to see one of the giant tree species Shoraea sp (Dipterocarpaceae), it is the only botanic garden in PNG which our children can see world’s most primitive flora.

“The botanic garden also provides a refuge for a rich resident bird fauna in the middle of all the noisy streets and ugly buildings.

“The Lae Botanical garden is certainly a great natural emporia of the New Guinea flora which primary schools, high schools, secondary high schools, colleges, and universities utilise in their curriculum.

“It is a Natural Heritage and warrants a designation equivalent to all our protected areas.

“Its biological, ecological, and esthetic values are clearly of national and global significance.

“ Lae Botanic garden indeed is perhaps the only significant piece of forest which has the capacity to effectively sequestrate all the toxic fumes generated in Lae city.

“The native plant species in the Botanic garden can be used as wild plant parent genetic material (PGR) that can produce new and improved tree crops that may be more resilient.

“The conversion of botanic garden to hotel will result in loss of the endemic species which would mean not only a loss to PNG, but a loss to the world as well.

“Minister should also know about the rate of deforestation in PNG.

“ PNG’s current rate of deforestation is 0.44 %, according to FAO report of the United Nations (1995-2005).

“ Deforestation rate in Japan, Australia, and USA; is 0.17%, 0.17%, and -0.10% respectively.

“It would seem that in our blindness in rushing to catch-up with their development, such as the crazy proposed hotel in the middle of botanic garden; we have neglected to see the greater care they have put into guarding their natural heritage and resources.”

“A case in point; the Didipa clan of Kau wildlife area in Madang, they did not have the necessary formal education in biodiversity and conservation that ministers advisors have, but what they were able to achieve in conserving and saving their forest is something that would make any conservationist proud.

“They have with limited resources, no formal education and little capital of their own, been able to set aside their small area of forested land all because they had the belief that what they were doing was right.

“Some of the plant species in the Lae Botanical Garden have little scientific data on their biology.

“Hence PNG has a country needs to preserve and conserve these species for future research to fulfill its global responsibility to protect and maintain all species within its borders.

“This knowledge is also critical for the development of effective conservation measures and for the preservation of biodiversity.

“What Lae Botanic Garden needs now to restore its former glory is a stand alone funding and not a squeezed-up funding from PNGFRI as is the case now.

“The Botanic garden has been in the past able to attract hundreds and thousands of tourists in a year without a hotel.

“ Records should show that not a single one of the tourists ask to see a five-star hotel in the botanic garden, so where is this crazy idea coming from?

“Come on! Wake up Minister and Advisors from this callous!”

Thomas Warr wrote: "I would suggest someone or a group in Lae to organise a meeting for us to talk about this.

"In saying that I think we should organise the Lae communities/groups to protest against this proposal."


  1. Malum,

    Would you please tell if the people of Lae are active enough to struggle for their national botanical garden or in the end the government will do what they are are planning to?
    And why not build that hotel somewhere else? Do many tourists visit that area? So, is it feasible to build that hotel?

    I would appreciate your answers :)Thank you.

  2. The people of Lae generally don't like the idea as the garden is part of history and heritage.

    The government wants to dictate to them what to do.

    There are lots of other good place to build a hotel.

    Many tourists still visit the area.

    It is fesible to build a hotel, but I, being a Lae boy, feel that it should be built somewhere else.