Climate change is having a huge impact on the areas where coconut trees grow. The land is shrinking as sea level rise reduces the island’s mass and the salt water encroaches into the soil making it unusable. They are also being put under increased pressure from disease and pests due to large amounts of rainfall and higher temperatures.
The communities of Papua New Guinea are already feeling the impact.
In 2013, a reported outbreak of Bogia Coconut Syndrome (BCS), a bacterial disease, infected and killed multiple palm species including coconuts, betel buts and even banana plants. Not only were surrounding local farmers affected by this disease but 15km of the ICG was also impacted.
To save the coconuts, it was decided the ICG had to be moved South, to the Milne Bay Province near Alotau, as well as being duplicated in both Fiji and Samoa. This move, now part of a three-year funded Darwin project, was essential for the Genebank to be in a safer location, away from the outbreak of this disease.