By Elaine Vaina
| May 24, 2015
Two coastal communities from the Tigak Group of Islands in northern New Ireland Province recently completed a predictive sea level rise mapping exercise with experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Provincial Environment and Climate Change office.
The exercise was undertaken from the 3rd to 8th May and involved locals from Limanak and Nonovaul islands.
It was undertaken in order to map the potential impact of rising sea levels at these two communities and to raise awareness among community members so that they can initiate their own climate change adaptation plans.
Global climate change is happening and its effect is already been seen in island communities in Papua New Guinea and the wider Pacific region. Along with changing weather patterns one of the key impacts of climate change is rising sea levels: climate change experts predict that the world’s sea levels will rise by around 0.5 metres in the next 30-50 years and by around 1 metre in 50-100 years.
Such an increase in sea levels will have large impacts among PNG’s island provinces; particularly for low-lying islands and for coastal communities.
Houses, churches, garden areas, water wells and other key infrastructure are likely to be affected by rising sea levels.
The Provincial Environment and Climate Change Coordinator Mr Jordon Bulo participated in the mapping exercise and was happy to learn new things.
He told the participating communities that the end results of the exercise would help everyone know about the changes that are occurring on their islands and that would be occurring in the future.
WCS GIS officer, Jacob Kimagl who led the team of local WCS staff and villagers from both communities in carrying out the mapping said that the team will go out to do more mapping work on other islands in New Ireland as well as along the east coast of New Ireland.
The work on the east coast will map the extent of flooding from the 2008 King Tide Event in order to prioritize communities and areas most at risk from sea level rise.
Mr Bulo from the provincial climate office is accompanying WCS staff with the King Tide mapping.
The mapping follows on from similar mapping undertaken by the WCS team in Manus Province in late 2014 and earlier this year.
WCS’s mapping work and other climate change work in Manus and New Ireland is part of a climate change adaptation project funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).