Business community assists to revive and grow the National Botanic Gardens of Lae.

The Lae Chamber of Commerce Inc. (LCCI) supported by some very active members, initiated a project to rejuvenate the National Botanical Gardens over 12 months ago. This led to the creation of the National Botanic Gardens Advancement Program which is a prime example of how industry strengths can be harnessed through collaboration between industry, government and the community. Not only will the National Botanic Gardens of Papua New Guinea be revived through a shared vision between partners, improved community and business infrastructure will help to deliver long-term, sustainable outcomes, bringing benefits to the Lae community and visitors while delivering prospects for a stronger future for the Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea and the world.

Over time residents and businesses have witnessed so many phases, changes and growth within Lae and the Nation as a whole however the National Botanic Gardens of Lae continue to be spoken of with nostalgia. At its best, the Gardens were the pride and joy of Lae and PNG, renowned internationally for its flora and fauna, history and culture. It was a place for the community to come together and appreciate the incredible diversity of PNG’s environment. It was a place for community to run, ride or relax, a place to gather as friends and family, and a significant place of research and education. It was a treasure to be celebrated and valued.

Currently, the opportunity and the will of the community is here to revive the Garden City of Lae through the National Botanic Gardens (LAE) Advancement Program (NBGLAP), and the business community of Lae is stepping up to back it all the way.

With a growing population and the expanding businesses in Lae, the city is known as the industrial hub of PNG. Since its establishment in 1958, the LCCI has achieved solid partnerships and effective communication between business and government, which has in turn facilitated many projects that contribute to the overall congruence and progression of Lae. As Executive President, Alan Mclay explains, ‘we are supporting the National Botanical Gardens (LAE) Advancement Program because the Chamber has an important role to play in making the gardens a safe place for the benefit of the greater Lae community. Through our networks, we are also able to build support from responsible business houses willing to help restore the Gardens to their former glory.’

There is increasing interest and momentum building and it is easy to see why businesses and interested stakeholders are eager to be involved in the Advancement Program. Supporters have come on board in a variety of capacities from hands on work to the supply of necessary infrastructure and equipment. This has already included building the capacity of workers through the supply of necessary tools, safety equipment and uniforms by a range of company’s including Bishops, Hila Holdings, Farmset and other private donors as well as the hosting of a Community and Safety team building day by Nestle involving more than 250 staff members.

There is more to come including Dulux Paints who will paint existing picnic facilities and Swire Shipping who are currently engaging a world class design company to design four internationally accredited Gardens.

At the garden level, a dedicated and newly equipped team are working hard to clear overgrown areas, weed, mow, fix pathways, reduce rubbish, clean, plant and rejuvenate the garden to restore it as a safe place for the community to visit. Plans are in place to enhance existing infrastructure including establishing a resource and visitor management centre, reviving ablutions, pathways and picnic area facilities and restoring the ever-popular RAAF C47 plane, all thanks to generous business sponsors of the program.

PNG FRI acting Director Dr Martin Golman says “It would be tremendous to keep this momentum going and to achieve this, the program needs even more support to deliver key deliverables and to be ready for re-opening to the public in October this year”.

PNG’s Forest Research Institute and the Friends of the Botanic Gardens continue to appeal to businesses, government organisations, NGO’s, community groups, religious institutions and individuals to participate. Support comes in many forms and the gardens need it all!

This may include resource support, machinery hire, equipment, garden materials, building expertise, promotional opportunities and volunteer labour to bring the gardens back to its’ former glory. The Gardens are now open on Wednesdays from 9:30 am – 12 pm to those gardening enthusiasts who would like to help our gardeners, this is a great opportunity to see all the work that has been done so far and enjoy the aesthetic value of the natural environment!

For more information on getting involved, please contact the Curator, Michael Lovave at the PNG Forestry Research Institute on 472 1041 or 472 4188 or email mlovave@fri.pngfa.gov.pg.