The Research Centre
The specific objective of ERMC is to promote applied integrative team research in natural, technological and social sciences; in particular, the production, processing and marketing of natural bio-products, using locally designed and produced technology. The long term approach to achieve such outcome would be to seek corporate partnership that is rural focused, project based and is export driven. It is perceived that if this country is to leap forward national academic institutions should take steps in encouraging development of technologies appropriate to PNG to support downstream processing of, agricultural and natural products for local markets resulting from the country’s biological diversity as a starting point to producing skilled people in the processing industry as well as getting involved in the imitation and development of relevant technology.
Location: ERMC is located at the Yufuc Biang building at the Taraka campus of PNGUT in Lae. It is the blue and grey brick building opposite the Students’ Mess. Seek directions from the Security Guards at the Main Gate (drive straight ahead for about 200 m to the Matheson Library, then turn right and head straight ahead for 150 m to the junction of Mining Engineering Department and the Student Mess. From there, turn left and drive for 15 m, then turn left and you should be at the Yufuc Biang building of ERMC.
ERMC came about when academic institutions took aboard other institutions to strengthen the National Government’s efforts towards environmental management and biodiversity conservation in the 1990s. The PNG University of Technology (PNGUT) took over Bulolo Forestry College, followed by the Insect Farming and Trading Agency (IFTA) − then an agency attached to the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). When PNGUT took over IFTA, DEC negotiated a K500,000 UNDP grant to set up the Rainforest Habitat. Following this, PNGUT intended to take over Wau Ecology Institute, through a Public Investment Program Submission in 1993-1994; creating ERMC.
ERMC was set up in 1993 by a PNGUT Council Resolution as a stand-alone unit. ERMC’s mandate is outlined in the Vision and Mission Statements. Basically, ERMC is about collaborative research on environmental topics, fostering conservation of PNG flora and fauna, empowerment of the grassroots, and training of postgraduate students. ERMC is mandated to facilitate co-operation and coordination of disciplines involved in environmental research and management at PNGUT. It is also mandated to provide consultative, educational and advisory services on environmental issues in PNG and in other Pacific countries.
Vision and Mission & Objectives
Vision: To be the leading multi-disciplinary graduate research centre at the PNG University of Technology, PNG and the region
Mission: To promote and facilitate multi-disciplinary problem-orientated research of relevance which is published to assist decision-makers and the community making wise decisions in managing resources of PNG and the South Pacific.
Objectives: The ERMC Center was created and built whilst having in mind that, the center will eventually cater for the graduate students with specific interest in applied research and development from various Departments within the Natural Sciences. That means its research outcome should be to make significant contributions to development aspirations of the nation as well as contributing towards the policy outcome in Environment and Sustainable Development; which essentially means that the center just cannot be another graduate school, which research is purely for academic requirement satisfaction as is the case now. The center has to be brought to a certain professional ISO international standard to attract outside funding to achieve specific outcome.
some of ERMC’s broad objectives are to:
- Promote research activities to complement teaching and development objectives.
- Identify and commit resources and vigor to selected research areas and seek to be a National leader in a number of them.
- Develop strategic alliances with industry, commerce and the community.
- Support R & D on technology appropriate to sustainable development in agriculture;
- Encourage nationally and internationally, communication and collaboration with institutes and universities with similar interests;
- Publish occasional papers and reports related to various environmental issues;
- Encourage the collection, storage and dissemination of information related to environmental issues in PNG;
- Develop and administer short courses on environmental management for engineers, agriculturists, foresters, and others involved in activities affecting the environment
Phd and Research Degree
The Environmental Research and Management Center has since 2009 been working in four main research program areas, with particular objective in mind and that is to determine future research and funding potentials in research fields where there is little or no research efforts in PNG, across the academic and research institutions. The multidisciplinary character of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology has given ERMC the opportunity to focus on four thematic areas four research with a view to draw a multidisciplinary research approach and they include the following,
- Biodiversity Conservation & Community Development
- Herbal Medicine & Natural Products Development
- Mined Environment & Industry Waste Management and Rehabilitation
- Technology Imitation and Development.
To contribute meaningfully to making PNGUT fly, ERMC has a 10 -point attack plan. ERMC is likely, mind the non-ideal conditions, to enhance the reputation of PNGOUT by:
1. Doing research on topics that have high potential and relevance to PNG as a ‘biodiversity hot -spot’ in the world. Traditional medicinal plant research has proven to be fruitful in this regard as has phytoremediation with obvious application in the mining industry. ERMC will also actively engage in research, extension and value-addition that empower villagers. In this regard, research on noni is a prime example. Others on the radar are vanilla, betel nut, C-trade (coffee, rubber and other agroforestry crops),marita and bio-energy.
2. Fostering human resource training via the engagement and supervision of postgraduate students in research, publications and other activities.
3. Increasing the output of publications locally and internationally in peer-reviewed journals and other media. Our target is for one peer-reviewed paper per postgraduate student per year. By the time a postgraduate student graduates, he/she must have published 3+ papers.
4. Continue with the publication and distribution of our flagship journal, Environment Papua New Guinea. It has an international Editorial Board with expertise in a wide range of professional fields. ISBN numbers from India and PNG have been obtained. The challenge now is to get the journal recognized and indexed outside the region.
5. Maintain the PNG Medicinal Plants Research Database.
6. Strengthen and extend collaborative links in research, publication, environmental awareness, etc.
7. Introduce and strengthen consulting and commercial services in a business mode.
8. Introduce a BSc degree course majoring in Environmental Studies. This can be done in collaboration with Forestry, Agriculture and Applied Science Departments as they already offer all the foundation courses as well as some of the tapering courses.
9. Provide expert and/or policy advice in the environmental sphere as and when required. ERMC (in conjunction with Roots Organic Consulting and a selected stakeholder panel) will assist PNGUT in realizing an Environmental Operational Policy. Such a policy should help portray PNGUT as an Environmental leader and Environmentally Responsible Corporate Citizen with a low carbon footprint.
10. Establishing an environmental laboratory that is accredited and geared to assist teaching, research and commercial analyses.
Starting 2016 the ERMC intend to achieve the following objectives.
- Complete the lab modification physical aspects-
- Get lab equipment commissioned.
- Formally putting into operation the ERMC Led multidisciplinary research, training and consultancy team on Environmental issues together for Unitech.
- Graduate Research and Publication Program
The year 2015 has been the year of milestone achievement for Environmental Research and Management Center. This is despite usual constraints, of no additional staffing, no operational fund allocation for the center coupled with more or less casual moral and administrative support from the office of the Vice Chancellor, from whom the Director takes counsel.
Amongst the number of achievements in research and publication the Environmental Research and Management Center was able to secure a major consultancy project with the Porgera Landowners Association Inc., in December 2014 however; actual work on data analyses and write up was done in 2015. In addition the ERMC Web site was launched last month by the then Morobe Provincial Administrator and major components of laboratory modification work were achieved. This is discussed in detail below.
There has not been any increase in staffing at the Environmental Research and Management Center since 2009. At the request of the Senior Management Team members of the university, in particular the Office of the Registrar, number of submissions have been forwarded to the administration for inclusion in the bid to get Personal Management to allocate more staffing positions to PNG University of Technology. In recent times the management had also announced in the public media that around 100 positions are yet to be filled.
RESEARCH AND PUBLICATION:
- Environmental Research and Management Center had applied for funding for its Journal to number of Organizations including UNDP GEF Small Grants program, however the outcome has been negative, hence this area is a grey area for funding in this country. Despite the negative outcome in 2016 we plan to engaged a biological illustrator to do around 50-100 drawings of herbal medicinal plants to be illustrated in Medicinal Plants of New Guinea. Bulk of the work on the manuscript is already in order and awaiting the drawings.
- Second important task under this objective or program area is to publish Vol.2 No.1 of the ERMC Journal- ENVIRNMENT PAPUA NEW GUINEA. Total of eight papers have come in and now in the manuscript form.
RESEARCH AND CONSULTANCY
Under research and consultancy ERMC had begun to network with resource owners, in particular, in provinces where the eight mining projects operate.
In 2014 ERMC secured its first consultancy project with the Pogera Land Owner Association for Kina 320,000.00 to do independent assessment of safe drinking water for its members living within the SML. This project did not commence quickly as expected due to unforeseen technical problems with the NATSL equipment and therefore analytical results for write up were delayed by seven months.The team was able to complete first draft of the report and have it presented to the Porgera land owners in October 2015. After their feedback we are now making final editing to have it bound and present to the land owners before the year ends.
Despite the past and present constraints (funding, manpower, logistics, consumables,etc), ERMC has been able to make some notable achievements
- Noni juice-Research and production. Community mobilization with the formation of the Maprik Noni Growers Association.
- Noni press-As part of the noni research and development effort in 2011, we were able to coordinate multi-disciplinary effort to produce noni press.For this to eventuate, Mr. John Dujambi of Mechanical Engineering was engaged to do a drawing of a manually operated screw press. The detailed drawing was used by the Central Engineering Workshop of Civil Engineering to construct the press. Under the existing contract, three presses will be built. The first one has been delivered to the Maprik Noni Growers Cooperative Society.
- Environmental PNG journal-Three Issues in Volume 2 have been co-published with Roots Organic Products thus far. 2009-present. A reputable Editorial Board with constituents’ from here and abroad has been put together.
- PNG Medicinal Plants Research Database- Designed, created and users’ manual published. Manuscript on medicinal plants of PNG under preparation.
- High per capita publication out- ERMC has only 4 full time staff. Its per capita publication output is the HIGHEST at PNGUT. For a poorly resourced and underfunded non -academic department, the feat is very notable.
- CINEST International Best Paper Award- Won by Stanley Rungwa on the research on phytoremediation. Was awarded by Chairman –Dr. Kikuo Matsui of Corporative International Network of Earth Science and Technology (CINEST) on the 10th International Earth Science and Technology Symposium which was hosted by Bundang Institute of Technology, Indonesia on 19--20 September, 2012.
- Lead Number of noni- ERMC is the first to report the variation of lead number (total organic acid content) in noni juice over time.
- Higher activity of noni oil compared to flagyl®- ERMC is the first to show that the noni oil is more than 70% active against Trichomonas vaginalis than the metronidazole or flagyl standard on equivalent basis. Manuscript under revision.High potential for commercialization.
ERMC is managed by a Director who reports to and takes administrative directives from the Vice Chancellor. However, he/she reports to the Pro−Vice Chancellor (Academic) on academic matters. To ensure operational activities at ERMC is multidisciplinary across PNGUT, the PVC (Academic) automatically becomes the Chairman of the ERMC Board of Directors. The Board draws its membership from all relevant Departments and Centers of PNGUT to provide guidance for ERMC to achieve the objectives of ERMC.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF DIRECTOR
The main responsibility of the Director is to provide leadership and coordination capacity for research in environmental issues.
Undertake activities to make ERMC economically self-sufficient and sustainable.
- Identify the strengths of existing academic departments (Agriculture, Forestry, Civil Engineering, Mining Engineering, Applied Science), the alternative forest utilization programme and NAL in relation to their capacities in conducting research on environmental issues in PNG.
- Liaison with DEC for research needs in environment and conservation in PNG.
Liaison with Wau Ecology Institute to use its facilities as field stations for;
- ecological research activities,
- conservation activities,
- sustainable agriculture and forestry R & D, and
- medicinal plant research activities.
ERMC BOARD of DIRECTORS and ToR
The Members of Board are drawn from Departments such as Forestry, Civil Engineering, Mining Engineering and Applied Science. The ToR are:−
The main role of the Board is merely that of ensuring and supporting the leadership provided by the Director and the programme being presented are in line with the objectives of the ERMC and PNGUT.
The Board does not set Terms and Conditions for the Director to follow as he/she receives directives from the VC and PVC (Academic).
The Board does not get any monetary reward for being involved with ERMC.
Business Plan 2014-2016.
In 2014 office of the Vice Chancellors’ and Senior Management team resolved to direct the research and business centers, of the university to become sustainable by generating own income to assisting towards helping the university to increase its over all portfolio in internal revenue generation. In pursuit of this the ERMC management had produced a Business Plan for 2014-1016.
It is perceived that ERMCs’ analytical laboratory must be operation and certified for the center to be engaged in serious analytical research and to go after consultancy projects in the fields of waste management and conservation biology. The only way it expects to achieve the perceived results is through collaborative multidisciplinary team approach. This is because the ERMC does not have the manpower the successive administration had turned a blind eye on one of the potential center that can generate funding towards supporting focused applied research that can contribute towards the national government development policy drive.
The Business plan outlines, two main areas of income generation by ERMC, to sustain its functional responsibilities and they are;
- Training for the informal sector in relevant fields of interest
- Consultancy work
- Research and Infrastructural Grants.
These activities are all possible areas, however limited able manpower is expected to be the hindering factor.
Graduate Student Research Undertakings and Engagement 2016-2017.
The effort to lure and attract self-sponsored students to do research in significant fields of national and international focus areas has been a drive of the ERMC center since 2010. For example for 2015 onwards ERMC has together with volunteers in the multidisciplinary research team already identified and secured two students, one for PhD in Climate Change, Mitigation and Carbon Trade Project and the other in a Masters student in Renewal Energy, both self-sponsored. Three more students are likely to be sponsored by the New Ireland Provincial Government.
This effect had been stalled by the Office of the Graduate School. For example Mr. Gonapa a senior office with DAL Highland Regional Office, was denied assistance to enroll him after he had paid tuition fee of K50,000.00 and after seeing Pro.Vice Chancellor (Academic) Dr. Moshi.
ERMC WEBPAGE LAUNCHING.
As part of the information Awareness Drive ERMC launched its Web Page on 3rd November 2015. We have also created a separate site for the ERMC JOURNAL. The ERMC site is connected to the University’s Main Terminal.