Rising Sea Level Threatens Swamp Taro in Ugi

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BY JOHN HOUANIHAU

RISING sea levels are affecting gardens of giant swamp taros – a staple crop for most of the coastal dwellers in Ugi Island, Makira, and Ulawa province, according to Martha.

Martha who is a single mother from Pounasuu village, Ugi Island told Environment Media that they will soon lose one of the islands’ most stable and cultural food crops due to sea-level rise.

She added that the impact of coastal flooding (saltwater from coastal sea waters) due to sea-level rise is devastating and has destroyed swamp areas used by locals to grow giant swamp taros.

“The swamp taros are now been destroyed and at risk due to increased salinity caused by the movements of seawater into swamp areas.

“As a result, the coastal dwellers of Ugi will soon be faced with future food shortages due to saltwater flooding their swamp gardens, and I am worried and sad to say that our people may be at risk as sea level rises,” she said.

Martha, 30, is now extremely concerned about their future and more especially their food security on the Island.

Giant swamp taro has been cultivated successfully on the island providing food and nutritional security for Ugi communities over the past years until now.

She said they had never experienced the issue of sea-level rise in the past but now sea tides have reached untouched coastal areas.

“Now we have experienced low yield harvest and destroyed taro crops in our swamp taro gardens. 

“Not only swamp taros but coastal plants such as coconut palm trees, bushes are also destroyed by sea-level rise and therefore it had drastically changed the natural coastal landscape of the island.

“These changes caused by effects of Global warming and impacts of sea-level rise to the island’s natural environment settings have occurred since 2018,” she said.


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