BY NALAU BINGEDING
Busamang village is located in Huon district of Morobe province.
The village lies along the coast of Huon, about 28 km south of Lae city, and has a population of about three to four thousand people.
Currently, the village is accessible by motorized canoe in 40-50 minutes.
Despite the proximity to Lae Town, there are few economic activities inside and outside the village to support the livelihoods of the locals.
The people of Busamang depend on both subsistence and ad hoc economic activities to sustain themselves, with subsistence gardening, artisanal fishing and sago making being the main activities.
However, due to prohibitive transportation costs to and from the village, with a one-way canoe trip to Lae costing 20K per person and other costs incurred in Lae town, it is not possible for Busamang villagers to continue marketing garden produce, fish and sago for their livelihoods.
Some cocoa and vanilla are grown in the village for cash income, but the areas planted are small enough that the economic impact of these activities on people’s livelihoods is negligible.
On the other hand, Busamang village is blessed with the natural beauty and tranquility of its white sand beaches, colonies of onshore and offshore coral reefs, lush tropical forests and scenic waterfalls, which have a potential for ecotourism, biodiversity conservation and carbon trading businesses.
The shoreline of Busamang Village is part of the Huon Coast Leatherback Turtle Nesting Site, the largest leatherback turtle nesting site in PNG and one of the largest in the Western Pacific, which also has potential for ecotourism and the conservation of marine biodiversity.
Although blessed with the natural beauty and tranquility of its white sand beaches, colonies of onshore and offshore coral reefs, lush tropical rainforests and scenic waterfalls, as well as the large site nesting sites for leatherback turtles, these natural assets have yet to be transformed into income opportunities that can provide employment and business opportunities to support people’s livelihoods.
There is also the potential for these activities to develop into a mega-industry that can sustain the livelihoods of the Busamang people and generate substantial economic benefits for Morobe Province and PNG if properly developed.
Busamang village is blessed with white sandy beaches that stretch for miles from Labu Talle village in Wampar LLG to Buakap village in Salamaua LLG.
Although Busamang has no islands, these white sand beaches provide avenues where tourists can sunbathe or swim in the sea just to relax.
Over the years, a small number of tourists frequent Busamang village every year.
However, there is a lack of tourism facilities in the village to accommodate guests, there is no suitable tourism package for tourists, and Busamang Village has yet to be promoted and developed into an ecotourism destination in PNG. .
But in recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of guests coming to stay at the village’s only official resort, and the potential for an influx of tourists to visit the village is imminent with the development of the next – to be a billion dollar Wafi-Golpu mining project.
MausBuang Leatherback Turtle Nesting Site, located between the villages of Labu Talle and Busamang, is the largest leatherback turtle nesting site in PNG.
Some 200 to 300 leatherback turtles come ashore each year to lay between 20 and 30,000 eggs.
Although the MausBuang Leatherback Turtle Nesting Site has been used by the PNG government and international organizations over the years for scientific research and documentary production, the area has yet to be transformed into a official conservation area.
Currently, the turtle nesting site is not subject to any form of conservation management and the area is now threatened by human encroachment, unsustainable harvesting of turtle eggs by humans and the destruction of turtle nests and eggs by foraging pigs and dogs.
This is despite the fact that leatherback turtles are now listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered turtle species.
Busamang is blessed with large areas of onshore and offshore coral reef colonies. But these onshore and offshore coral reef colonies have been overexploited over the past 50 years due to increasing human populations and the replacement of traditional fishing methods with introduced ones.
Introduced fishing methods have resulted in larger quantities of catch, but some of them have been detrimental to fish populations, coral reef colonies and the marine environment in general.
Although no scientific studies have been conducted to determine the state of Busamang’s marine environment, benthic fish populations and coral reef colonies, anecdotal evidence suggests that all is not well.
In the 1970s, one could easily catch a green sea turtle along the waterfront of Busamang village or see one swimming around its onshore reef colonies.
Today, however, one can hardly find a green turtle swimming around Busamang’s waterfront or among its onshore coral reefs.
The same can be said for conchs, giant clams and other shellfish species that have been used for string bag decorations and the production of traditional armbands and necklaces.
Today, Busamang village does not have a marine conservation project to protect its coral reef colonies, benthic fish populations, and the marine environment in general.
Nevertheless, the conservation of marine areas is now an international and national priority, and the Busamang can now pursue such activity to conserve their benthic fish populations, their coral reef colonies and the marine environment in general.
Carbon trading is now a hot topic due to the opportunity for customary land and sea owners to exploit the concept and reap the economic benefits that will accrue from international carbon trading.
Like any other place in Papua New Guinea, Busamang will benefit from carbon trading if it can utilize its vast tracts of lowland tropical rainforests and mountain ranges that border the mountain peoples of Yamap, Hocte and Buang.
The concept of REDD+, which includes reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conservation of forest biodiversity, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks, can be used by the Busamang to green carbon trading.
Coral reefs, seagrasses and algae are marine organisms that perform photosynthesis and store carbon in their tissues, and can be used for carbon trading.
Luckily, Busamang has an abundance of coral reefs, seagrass, and seaweed colonies along its waterfront, which it can use for blue carbon trading.
Although Busamang village sits on a wealth of natural resources, people do not see the potential of these resources for creating jobs and business opportunities that can improve their livelihoods.
Therefore, it is high time for the people of Busamang to adopt forest and marine biodiversity conservation, ecotourism and carbon trading to improve their lives.