In the Climate Resilient Islands programme, communities are incorporating traditional knowledge of ecosystems management into community resilience plans. The ancestors in communities often practised sustainable methods of food growing and gathering, methods that now become more vital as communities face threats from climate change and modifications of local landscapes.
In the village of Katangan, in New Ireland Province in Papua New Guinea, the Live & Learn team has been documenting some of the community’s traditional ways of managing ecosystems, as they prepare a Community Resilience Profile. One of the most interesting traditional practices is a three-way method that promotes sustainable fishing methods, known locally as ‘Lobos’, ‘Laba’ and ‘Langkunubeng’.
The ‘Lobos’ is created using an arch of stones on the reef. This traps fish in shallower areas when the tide recedes. The only exit out is manned by the fishermen, who carefully select fish based on size and species.
The ‘Laba’ is a fish habitat built by carefully laying rocks and creating a refuge for fish. When the fish enter, they are caught by the fishermen removing the stones. This gives the opportunity for the villagers to select the right sizes and release the smaller ones back into the sea.
The taboo (‘Langkunubeng’) is a traditional practice that involves restricting fishing access to an area on the coast for a designated time, allowing the preservation of marine resources for special events. As the planned event approaches, the restrictions on the reef are lifted by the village leaders for a short time, to allow for catching fish.
Despite limited knowledge within the community of the effects of climate change, these traditional practices show that the community already has sustainable practices that can help them cope with changes. And this knowledge is now being passed on.
One of the participants in the CRI workshops is a young person identified as a ‘community champion’. As well as building relationships with elders and other community champions, he has been an inspiration for other young people, who see the results of maintaining traditional practices, such as providing fish for sale for local youth teams, and are keen to broaden their own knowledge.
Climate Resilient Islands is a New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade initiative, implemented by Live & Learn Environmental Education, with funding provided by the New Zealand Government.