A MAN from the Ulingan-Malala area of Madang Province has been praised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as a role model in the fight against the effects of climate change and rising sea levels.
Community leader and conservation advocate Alfred Masul (pictured with his children) was commended for using his own initiative to start conservation activities using local knowledge and without much assistance from others.
WWF project officers learnt of Alfred’s activities as they were rolling out a project among Madang’s north coast communities.
They noticed that Alfred was already rehabilitating his area which was destroyed by a tidal wave some years before. He had established nurseries and started conservation work. WWF assisted Alfred with equipment to continue his mangrove rehabilitation and adaptation work.
WWF also used Alfred’s initiative to conduct training on mangrove rehabilitation and adaptation. It brought in members of communities from Malala and Ulingan for hands on training at Alfred’s project site.
Alfred said he started the project in 2005 as a means to conserve natural resources when he understood the effects of climate change and population on natural resources.
In 2007, when he realised the rising sea was encroaching on his land, he began mangrove rehabilitation and approached WWF to do a survey.
He currently has 2,000 mangrove seedlings and has planted more than 500.
Alfred’s approach to conservation is holistic. He has planted native trees in the forest, planted mangroves and associated species at the mouth of the river and created taboo areas in the bay so fish are not disturbed and can spawn freely. As a result, fish numbers and species have increased.
He has also built a bungalow for rent to visitors near a small lake beside the seashore.
Alfred said when he started doing conservation work, he was met with indifference and opposition from the community. As time went on, though, people saw its benefits and accepted the idea. They are now reaping the benefits.
WWF marine project officer Rebecca Samuel said Alfred is a role model and other communities and individuals should follow his lead.
She said they would like to work with individuals who have passion, initiative and take ownership of rehabilitation projects.