By Elaine Vaina
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| September 14, 2014
Mangrove ecosystems are a vital habitat for coastal communities providing an important source of coastal protection, timber resources, and fish nursery areas.
Imparting knowledge and skills to locals and students on the importance of mangroves can help sustain the livelihoods of coastal people and help them adapt to climate change.
Four environmental science students of the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) recently completed an intensive three weeks work experience on Mangrove Health Assessment with the Wildlife Conservation Society PNG (WCS-PNG) in New Ireland Province.
The practical work, which started on 14th July and ended on 2nd August, broadened the students’ knowledge and skills on mangrove ecosystems and its importance to the livelihood of the coastal communities and fisheries.
WCS PNG’s Marine Biologist, Mazzella Maniwavie said the students’ spent two weeks out in the mangrove forest and one week on the theoretical aspect of the mangrove ecosystem.
She praised the students for braving the harsh mangrove environment as first timers on practical.
“Despite being the first time for these students to experience field work, they had the drive and enthusiasm. I believe they have learnt something new,” Miss Maniwavie said.
Solomon Buka, George Iramu, Tindora Matainaho and Iscah Kamale were the second batch of students from PAU’s School of Science and Technology to do the practical.
Last year saw the first batch of students involved in the practical that WCS PNG coordinated under its Mangrove Rehabilitation for Sustainably-Managed Healthy Forests (MARSH) project.
MARSH project is an initiative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) that engages the PNG government, academic institutions and other partners to build capacity and strengthen sustainable mangrove management at the local and national levels.
“Students engaged in these practicals were exposed to long hours out in the field doing conservation work”, Miss Maniwavie said. She said such activities gave students a sense of appreciation for WCS work with the coastal communities in conserving the mangrove ecosystem for climate change adaptation measures and sustainability.
The students were also introduced to the basics of identifying appropriate directions with the use of the Global positioning system (GPS) unit with the society’s GIS officer Jacob Kimagl.