26 Jul 2018 - Alfred Masul is a conservation evangelist in his community located on the remote northern coast of Papua New Guinea. Well known for leading the charge in environmental rehabilitation, Alfred is restoring an ecosystem and promoting a sustainable path for his family and his community.
In Numuru Village, where Alfred is elder of the clan made up of his siblings, cousins, and children, dwellings are arrayed along their 3km of coastline.
After a bad flood about 10 years ago that caused massive damage and required the community to move further inland, Alfred started planting mangroves.
Working in the nearby secondary school, Alfred was a teacher’s aide and oversaw science exams. Sensitised to conservation, Alfred wanted to stop the excessive cutting of mangroves and work to rehabilitate their terrestrial and marine environments. Alfred believes:
‘The future is on your head’.
FALLOWING FOR FISH
Alfred’s village is in Madang province, known for some of the highest mountain ranges in PNG, with correspondingly large valleys, coastal strips, volcanic islands, and atolls. In Numuru, the main crops are betel nut, copra, cocoa, and subsistence staples like sweet potato.
Many villagers are fishermen, which provides food and income.
The main climate change effects experienced in the area are inland flooding and coastal erosion. In 2015, a prolonged drought destroyed food gardens, in turn increasing dependence on rapidly depleting fish stocks.
In addition to overfishing pressures, and in a changing climate, warmer water = less dissolved oxygen; less dissolved oxygen = smaller fish.
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