WCS PNG has never had to convince local people of the existence of climate change. The rural people of Papua New Guinea live subsistence lifestyles, and have seen the changes in the climate themselves. Native species which were once only found in lowland areas are now beginning to be seen by highland communities. The breakdown in the timing of previously regular wet and dry seasons, and an increase in extreme weather events has already impacted the food production of many communities, and in some cases resulted in the deaths of community members.
WCS PNG addresses climate change in Papua New Guinea through two strategies:
Climate adaptation ‒ helping communities adapt to climate change through:
- Better planning and awareness (e.g. village land-use plans, education materials, and climate change resource centers).
- Improved village infrastructure (e.g. water tanks and sanitation systems).
- Putting in place coastal defences (e.g. sea walls and mangrove buffer zones).
- Introducing adaptive agriculture practices (e.g. drought tolerant crop varieties and training in permaculture techniques).
Climate mitigation ‒ slowing climate change by preventing the release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere:
- Papua New Guinea, like many tropical countries, through deforestation, is contributing to the release of carbon dioxide, the most critical greenhouse gas. WCS PNG is working closely with the Papua New Guinea Government to develop and trial a national forest protection initiative known as REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation ― the “+” refers to the other benefits of forests). Schemes like REDD+ should not only slow the release of carbon dioxide but have the potential to provide tangible benefits for forest communities.