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Conservation benefit: New 988-acre no-take coastal marine conservation area

Community benefit: Community health clinic

Date Approved: 07.2010


This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

Tavolo is situated in the Pomio District of East New Britain Province in Papua New Guinea. The area has extensive fringing coral reefs on the coast and a pristine forest on the mainland. The primary threats to these two ecosystems are large-scale logging and overfishing. In 1997, an eight-square-mile Wildlife Management Area was gazetted under PNG’s Flora and Fauna Act. The community, along with local NGO Melkoi Local Environment Foundation, is working to extend the conservation area, to cover a total of 124 square miles.

The community would like to set up a 988-acre no-take reef and lagoon conservation area. The people of Tavolo, with the help of another local NGO, Mama Graun Conservation Trust, are committed to protecting their environment. They will continue to refuse large-scale development proposals.

Approximately 500 people live around the Tavolo area in small hamlets. It takes about a day’s walk to get the nearest government station for medical care, and the trip requires crossing rivers, making it too difficult for community members to reach. Seacology is providing funding to build a community health clinic. In return, the community will establish a 988-acre no-take coastal marine conservation area.

Project Updates

January 2018

It took years of work from project coordinator Peter Kikele, but the people of Tavolo finally got great news: A nursing officer has been permanently stationed at the Seacology-funded clinic building. The local government has also included the clinic in its annual budget, meaning regular financial support will be forthcoming. A message from the village to our field rep, Sam Moko, said in part: “This has strengthened our initiative to conserve our forest. This is a commitment and my people have to honour it and make this facility serve its purpose. The conservation area as per the agreement is intact. ”

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May 2017

Project coordinator Peter Kikele is still doggedly advocating for the provincial government to appoint, and pay, a permanent community health worker. The conservation area is still being respected.

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January 2017

Field Representative Sam Moko reports that a local health worker is working at the clinic as a volunteer and hopes to receive a formal appointment during the first half of this year. According to Sam, the conservation area is intact and community members are committed to resisting ongoing threats from palm oil and logging companies.

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April 2016

Field Representative Sam Moko reports that the clinic, built but standing empty for more than a year, may finally get a health worker from the government. Our project manager in the village says he should find out soon whether or not this proposal has been approved. The local level government has allocated money to buy basic medical supplies for the clinic; this will be an annual budget item. Sam also reports that community members have shown a strong commitment to conservation.

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February 2016

Field representative Sam Moko visited Tavolo recently. The Seacology-funded community clinic building was finished long ago, but the government has still not provided anyone to staff it.
The community members are understandably frustrated by the long delay, but Sam reports that they are holding firm to their agreement to protect the 988-acre no-take area of reef and lagoon. There are threats coming from the logging companies under the pretext of promoting “agroforestry” projects. The community is getting support from FORCERT Limited, a local nonprofit group that certifies sustainably harvested timber.

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May 2015

The formal opening of the clinic was planned for April 2015, but although the clinic has now been registered under the Provincial Health Department system, the government has yet to assign a health worker. According to Field Representative Sam Moko, community leader Peter Kikele is still pushing for this arrangement to happen by mid-year. At that time, a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the project will be signed, outlining the responsibility of the Pomio District Administration to provide funding for the ongoing operation of the clinic and of the Tavolo Wildlife Area Management Committee to protect the no-take marine conservation area.

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January 2015

Field Representative Sam Moko reports that the community plans to formally open the clinic in April 2015. At that time, a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the project will be signed, outlining the responsibility of the Pomio District Administration to provide funding for the ongoing operation of the clinic and of the Tavolo Wildlife Area Management Committee to protect the no-take marine conservation area.

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June 2013

The building is near completion, and plans are being made for the opening ceremony.

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June 2012

As of the last update in February 2012, the project is in the construction phase. The community organized itself and purchased most of the construction materials, and provided a detailed financial accounting, along with photos and a progress report, to Seacology.

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December 2011

According to Field Representative Sam Moko, the first phase of the project mobilization began on September 29th, 2011 and ended on November 23rd, 2011. After project leaders received the first payment, they traveled to Rabaul (nearest town) to purchase hardware materials for the project and ship them to Tavolo. On arrival of the materials in Tavolo, the community of Tavolo put up a traditional welcome and show of appreciation with traditional dancing and performances. The community members gathered to clear the project site, carry sand and gravel, and load and unload hardware from the wharf to the project site. A local portable sawmill operation was hired by the Tavolo Community Health Project to supply all sawn timbers for the construction of the community health facility. All timbers were cut locally from the Tavolo Forest Management Area which was initially set up for community forestry. People used canoes and outboard boats to collect sand and gravel and neatly piled them on site. Only one material (wire) has been put on a back order and will be delivered early January 2012. With most materials on site, the community is keen to start the construction phase in January. The community is aiming to complete the project and have an opening ceremony in March 2012.

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January 2011

Seacology PNG Field Representative Sam Moko visited the project area in November 2010. A community meeting was called and organized by the clan leaders of Tavolo. Men, women and children from the eight clan groups of the community were present at the meeting to hear the good news of a Community Health Clinic Project, and witness the signing of the Tavolo Community Covenant. At the meeting Sam Moko outlined a list of documents required from the community. A long discussion ensued, and questions were raised for clarification until a show of understanding was reached. The clan representative for each of the eight groups signed the Tavolo Community Covenant. The community confirmed and agreed to the 988-acre no-take coastal marine conversation within the exiting WMA and demarcated the boundaries of the area. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has taken coordinates of the boundaries and a specific map of the no-take coastal marine zone will be produced for the community and Seacology. TNC has been involved to assess the area for potential marine biodiversity survey upon request from the local NGO Mama Graun. The project will commence in early 2011.

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