Witnessing and participating in TNC’s conservation work in this new cultural context has been an incredible experience of learning and building relationships. I’m grateful for the amazing people I met in PNG. Felix, for example, is a former policeman and leader in the coastal village of Tubusereia, who began planting and propagating mangroves after his retirement. He shared his incredible story as part of World Mangrove Day, beginning with his birth literally in the mangrove forest outside his family home and continuing to him sharing his passion for mangroves and their restoration with the next generation, including his grandchildren, one of whom is named Avicennia, after a common mangrove tree species, Avicennia marina (White mangrove).
I have been consistently inspired by the dedication of Mazzella, MMM, and the rest of the PNG team, their partners, and the communities in which they work. PNG is one of the most culturally and biologically diverse countries on the planet- and today the country experiences “carbon colonialism” from western companies, in addition to climate change and other severe threats to mangroves and forests. Despite these immense challenges, TNC’s team in PNG demonstrates unwavering dedication to community-centered conservation that benefits people and nature in their country.
We managed to get those trucks unloaded and, with the help of hundreds of people, planted nearly 1000 trees before the sun set that day. Of course, the work didn’t end there- the team continues to monitor seedling survival and are propagating new seedlings to expand their restoration efforts. I am convinced that tackling the challenges posed by climate change requires the kind of commitment to working hard together that I experienced with the PNG team.