PAPUA NEW GUINEA, West Manus, southwestern Manus Province - January 2008
Village water and school supplies project in exchange for the establishment of a 49,421 acre coastal forest conservation area
Manus Island is generally considered PNG’s most remote province. The Manus forests harbor exceptional diversity, much of which has yet to be studied by scientists. The primary threat to its still relatively pristine equatorial environment is industrial logging. The first logging permits were allocated for the West Manus area in 1989 and parts have been intensively logged since. The villages of Likum, Bundrahi, Butchou, and Korojih lie in the southwest corner of Manus Island and were among the first to be affected by logging. They have been successful to date in preventing further logging. The villages are far from any services in the provincial capital, with most supplies being brought in by small fiberglass dinghy. Currently the women paddle over one mile in dugout canoes to fetch fresh water. Seacology is funding construction of a village water supply, as well as much-needed supplies for the village schools, in exchange for the protection of approximately 49,421 acres of forest for the next ten years. The work will be coordinated and funds administered by the nonprofit Center for Environment, People and Cultural Heritage, Inc. *
UPDATE May 2008 - As of April 2008 the project leader traveled to the village to complete documentation and discussions of the agreements. All documentation was returned along with a copy of a letter of commitment to support the enforcement of the protected forest area by community members from all three villages.
UPDATE January 2009 - As of June 2008 six tanks were purchased and transported to Manus Province. As of November 2008, the project leader reported that the water supply system is now fully installed in the villages. School supplies are scheduled to be purchased and transported from the education department in early 2009. While the conservation area continues to be upheld by communities, field representatives are concerned that the area will be under greater threat over time as logging companies move closer to the area.
UPDATE June 2009 - As of April 2009 the project leader is still to finalize the purchase of the school materials from Port Moresby due to supply shortages at the National Department of Education. He hopes transportation of the materials will now take place in June 2009. Logging operations in West Manus have significantly reduced over the past year due to high operational costs against shrinking markets and landowner opposition. The 20,000 plus hectares of forest protected under the agreement with Seacology are still intact. The project leader and his group have been actively campaigning at community and provincial levels to reduce the influence of logging in the area.
UPDATE November 2009 - In June 2009 ten boxes of school materials were distributed to school children in Manus Province. This project is now completed and both financial and narrative reports have been submitted to Seacology. A project closing ceremony is planned for later in 2009 or early 2010.