Sunday, May 30, 2010

Preserving our environment for our children

By UNRE Public Relations


One thing we owe the future generations of Papua New Guinea, is to ensure that we leave them with an environment which is at least as good as it is today.

This is according to University of Natural Resources and Environment (UNRE) lecturer, Joachim Pitala.

Mr Pitala, who lectures in natural resources and plant nutrition, said managing our natural resources, land, water, plants and animals was one of the greatest challenges facing PNG today.

He said present data indicated that over the past 30 years, the major causes of deforestation and forest degradation in PNG had been logging and subsistence agriculture with net forest changes of 48.2 % and 45.6 %, respectively.

Mr Pitala said the question one might ask is if there were ways of combining agriculture and forestry management practices that could provide goods and services to people while at the same time, play a role in the protection and conservation of our major natural resources, particularly renewable natural resources.

He said a variety of land-use practices exist that combined the production of agricultural crops, livestock production, forestry and other production systems which provided ecological stability and sustainable benefits to uses of land.

Those practices are commonly known as agro-forestry land-use interventions.

Mr Pitala said agro-forestry was not a new system or concept to PNG.

He said while the term was new, the practice was very old.

“Papua New Guineans have been raising trees and crops together traditionally on the same garden land.

“The crops provide foodstuff, whilst trees provide foods as well as wood for construction of houses, fuel wood, shelter, clothing, tools, recreation and many more,” he said.

The lecturer said the International Council for Research in Agro-forestry (ICRAF) defined agro-forestry as a “collective word for all land-use systems and practices in which woody perennials are deliberately grown on the same land management unit as crops and /or animals”.

He said it was a multi-tiered concept that could be broadly divided into three functional elements: agriculture, forestry and environmental functions.

Mr Pitala said from the ICRAF definition it was clear that the aim of agro-foresty was twofold.

This was to conserve and improve the site, which was, land; and to optimise the combined production of forestry and agricultural crops and animal husbandry.


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