West Papua – home to Birds Head peninsula and Raja Ampat – has just become the world’s first “conservation province”, which means that the intricate ecosystems of this spectacular part of the world are now protected. Declaring the region a protected area was the brainchild of West Papua governor Abraham Ataruri, who signed the declaration on Monday.
The Indonesian province of West Papua has just been declared a Conservation Province, a first for both Indonesia and the rest of the world. The new designation is important both symbolically and in ensuring the future health of the province’s astonishing ecosystems. Besides its rainforests, West Papua is the world’s epicentre of marine biodiversity, boasting more species than anywhere else on the planet.
…. The new designation has taken two years to enshrine in law and comes at a time when West Papua is experiencing a major surge in development. The province has huge resource wealth and is home to the Grasberg Mine, the world’s biggest gold and copper mine. Nickel mining has taken place on islands close to important coral reefs. Yet West Papua is also Indonesia’s least developed province and there are serious questions around the status and treatment of its indigenous population.
As Conservation International has stated in its strategic recommendations, which have fed into the new bylaw, there is a need to ensure the wellbeing of the Papuan people and to protect their customary rights over natural resources. This is as much a conservation priority as establishing an extensive network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and curbing deforestation. Indeed the two are connected, since it is indigenous Papuans that hold ancestral tenure over both reefs and rainforests.
For more on the declaration, please click here to visit the website for
The Coral Triangle, from where this extract was taken.