Papua New Guinea
Like so many places throughout Asia, Papua New Guinea contains dramatic, breathtaking beauty: lush green mountains coated with tropical forests stand beside turquoise waters filled with thriving reefs and brightly colored fish.
And the reefs of Papua New Guinea do more than provide good snorkeling and diving: they provide seafood for local communities and people in cities around the world, including Hong Kong.
But also like so many other places, Papua New Guinea is unfortunately facing tough challenges to its economic, food, and water security: challenges like climate change, overfishing, and balancing community and business interests. In fact, climate change is already taking a heavy toll on Papua New Guinea, with six of Manus Province’s atolls now underwater due to sea level rise. Learn how clan leaders in Manus are taking steps to adapt their populations to the impacts of climate change.
Locals in Papua New Guinea are urgently seeking ways to adapt to climate change, including higher temperatures and less access to clean water — and the Conservancy is helping by working with villagers to identify where and how their communities access the resources they depend on, assisting them in identifying alternatives that can sustain their way of life through the impacts of climate change.
Restoring Healthy Fish Populations on Manus Island
In remote Pere village on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, people used to fish with spears made of bamboo, and tribal customs on the island ensured no one species was overfished. But globalization pushed villagers to go beyond traditional fishing practices, and their new fishing methods, including the use of cyanide, led to the village’s fish populations being quickly depleted, leaving enough for no one.
In 2004, a Conservancy scientist and a Conservancy staffer who grew up in Pere visited the village to help them figure out how they could restore fish populations to the healthy levels they depended on. By eliminating techniques like the use of cyanide and targeting spawning aggregations, as well as implementing self-policed catch limits, off-limits areas, and seasonal closures, the village is helping restore local fish populations so that a sustainable supply of seafood can continue to nourish both local populations and people in faraway places like Hong Kong.
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Funding Conservation through Community Empowerment
A major challenge to Papua New Guinea’s ability to protect its natural resources has been that the country has historically lacked adequate conservation funding. Without that funding, healthy reefs and fish populations could disappear.
To address this problem, the Conservancy helped establish the Papua New Guinea Mama Graun (Mother Earth) Conservation Trust Fund, designed to provide longterm, uninterrupted funding for conservation. The trust fund’s ten-year fundraising goal is a HK$233 million endowment that will generate HK$12 million annually for local conservation projects.
Fair Trade Cocoa in Madang Province Incentivizes Conservation
Home to hundreds of species of birds and butterflies, as well as tree kangaroos, monkey-faced flying foxes, and other mammals and reptiles, the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea’s Madang Province are surprising still intact, despite the needs of 365,000 people living there, and aggressive timber companies looking to buy land rights from locals. Though local communities here have turned down some lucrative contracts from these timber companies, they need viable economic options to earn money without selling out their forests.
That’s why the Conservancy helped create the Adelbert Conservation Cooperative Society in Madang Province, which recently started producing the country’s first Fair Trade-Certified cocoa.
“We realized that, through our conservation cooperative, we can link with Fair Trade to sell our organic products overseas and sustain our conservation efforts,” says Andrew Basebas, a conservation monitor in the Urumarav village.
Protecting Kimbe Bay’s Reefs with People and Marine Life in Mind
Kimbe Bay is a special place — an island dominated by rainforest-covered volcanoes rising steeply out of the water to reach 2,000 meters high. But its marine habitats, including coral reefs, mangroves, deep ocean waters and seamounts, make Kimbe Bay a global conservation priority. The bay is part of the Coral Triangle, and whales, dolphins, and sharks feed and breed in the bay’s waters.
But Kimbe’s once-pristine marine habitats are threatened by overfishing, sedimentation, and climate change—higher sea temperatures and rising sea levels could destroy the reefs, coastal habitats and villages that people and animals depend on.
For more than a decade, the Conservancy has worked with partners in local communities to protect Kimbe Bay’s rich lands and waters. Today, a design for a network of marine protected areas has been completed and we’re working with local communities to implement the plan.
By protecting resilient coral reefs and linking marine protected areas through ocean currents, the network will ensure that local reefs can survive the effects of rising sea temperatures, and allow coral larvae from healthy reefs to replenish those affected by bleaching. With reefs that are sustainable in the long term, local communities will continue to have the food source they rely on: all the marine life that depends on these reefs. Learn more about how protecting Kimbe’s reefs sustains local communities.