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Papua New Guinea

Mt. Bosavi Region

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Conservation benefit: Support of protection of several hundred thousand acres of rainforest

Community benefit: Construction of three community resource centers

Date Approved: 11.2003

Forest

This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.

The Mt. Bosavi Region in southern Papua New Guinea encompasses about 2 million acres of virgin rainforest. The indigenous residents of the region’s widely scattered 28 villages are highly dependent upon their environment. Bosavi clan leaders started an organization, Kosuo Orogo Resource Holders Association Inc., to increase awareness of the negative impacts of industrial logging. They also encourage traditional beliefs in the sustainable use of natural resources.

As a result, community members have rejected large-scale logging proposals. They have also agreed to set aside five wildlife management areas, which total several hundred thousand acres.

In exchange, Seacology is providing funding for three community resource centers and supplies for alternative income-generating activities. The World Wildlife Fund-Kikori is providing logistical help for this project.

Project Updates

June 2009

Construction of the last center at Bona Village has been halted since May 2007 due to a lack of village support and available contractors. In January 2009, a letter from Seacology was delivered to Bona Village notifying them that Seacology has determined the project complete in order to honor the hard work done by the first two villages and their successful PNG government recognition of the conservation areas.

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January 2007

Two of the three community centers were completed in 2005, and support in the villages for the protected areas remains strong. In late 2006 villages in the Bosavi area celebrated the official launch of two Wildlife Management Areas officially recognized by the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation. Construction of the last center has been postponed due to lack of village support and available contractors. Field representative Helen Perks and 2005 Seacology Prize winner Patrick Pate are both searching for a new contractor, and Patrick is scheduled to travel to Bona village in late 2006 to discuss their current level of support for the project. Depending on the outcome of these meetings, he may recommend that a community center be built at a different village where support for establishing a Wildlife Management Area is stronger.

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June 2006

This project is still experiencing delays due to the challenges of organizing logistics, especially finding flights to the Bosavi villages. The third and final resource center in Bona should be built in May 2006, with the vanilla training to take place later in the year. Community leaders from Musula signed a conservation area agreement with Seacology in January for the Sulamesi Wildlife Management Area, which has now been recognized under PNG law. Agreements for the two other communities will be passed on to Seacology as the community leaders meet and demarcate their areas. Field Representative Helen Perks reports that the commitment to conservation in the Bosavi area remains strong.

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January 2006

The second resource centre was constructed in June and all materials were delivered to the village for the third. However, difficult weather conditions for the duration of the wet season and communication problems have meant that the third centre will now be constructed in early 2006. The Sulamesi WMA, close to the village of Musula, the site of the first resource centre and the visit by Seacology in 2004, was officially gazetted by the Department of Environment and Conservation in October and is now recognized under PNG National Law. The other areas are under community-level agreement and are awaiting government processing to become officially recognized. Project coordinator Patrick Pate received the 2005 Seacology Prize for his efforts to protect the Mt. Bosavi area.

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July 2005

Report from Seacology PNG Field Representative Helen Perks:

“It seems there have been major heroics going on in the bush to make things work and I am amazed and impressed by the dedication and hard work of Patrick Pate and the carpenter I sent out there, Jacob Kamunai. We now have the second centre standing, in Fogomaiyu, although we still need to fit the water supply and solar lighting. They were supposed to move straight on to do the third centre, but the weather was really bad and there are fewer and fewer planes servicing the area – it is getting more and more remote. They waited 3 weeks for a plane, and had no radio working, so in the end decided to walk back to where the WWF camp is. This is “just” 2 days walking, but on very hard terrain and in thick bush with heavy rains. It also included crossing a very swollen river, in a leaking canoe they have to keep bailing out, and dealing with leeches – Jacob said at one point he counted 32 on his body! Patrick and Jacob are now out safely and I will try to get them back again in about a week’s time to build the final centre. That is, if we can get a flight for them, which we will eventually.

“…It is a very tough area to work anyway, really remote …These people have very few options for any kind of services or “development” and often they see logging as their only chance for…something, some change that they think will make things better for them. Other organisations who have worked there have given up because of the logistics problems. But, the Fogomaiyu people are very firm on that they will not allow any logging on their land and were telling Jacob their feelings on this. They are very grateful for the new resource centre and Jacob says that many men were crying! So, if you can imagine Indiana Jones-style efforts in the name of Seacology, it is all happening here in PNG!”

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June 2005

Materials are being purchased, and the two additional resource centers are expected to be completed in July 2005. With the help of the Environmental Law Center in Port Moresby and WWF-Kikori, 12 clans from around Musula Village, the site of the first resource center, have mapped the boundaries of their WMA and are processing their application to ratify the WMA with the Department of Environment and Conservation. Other villages will follow with the finalization of their areas. The expectation is that the application process will be slow due to the remoteness of the area, the gradual phasing out of the WWF-Kikori Project, and lack of resources at the Department of Environment and Conservation. The communities, however, still remain committed to protecting their forest lands.

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January 2005

The first of the three resource centers was completed in August 2004. A Seacology expedition visited the Mt. Bosavi project site in September 2004 to celebrate the official opening of the new center. Villagers from the Mt. Bosavi region have been working with WWF-Kikori and WMA committees to establish the WMA boundaries. The Department of Environment and Conservation has not yet determined the areas under PNG laws. The last two resource centers are scheduled to be constructed in the first half of 2005.

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July 2004

Due to the extreme remoteness of the area, several organizations are currently coordinating with KORA to arrange for the transportation of materials and the construction of the three community centers in the wildlife management areas. A Seacology expedition will visit the Mt. Bosavi project site this coming September 2004.

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