The Wanang community, in the rich tropical lowlands of Papua New Guinea, is home to 2009 Seacology Prize recipient Filip Damen. Community members have been working to conserve their forests since 2000, when 11 clans signed a binding agreement against logging their land. Today, Wanang is surrounded by an active logging concession and has repeatedly resisted pressure from logging interests.
Under Filip’s the leadership, the community worked with the Binatang Research Center to protect an area for biological research. The protected area prohibits hunting, gardening, dogs, fires, camps, and harvesting plants. Filip’s receipt of the Seacology Prize strengthened local support for the conservation area.
The Wanang community wishes to double the size of the conservation area from 2,718 acres (1,100 hectares) to 5,436 acres (2,200 hectares). In exchange for this commitment, Seacology is funding a permanent classroom facility for the community. The first primary school in the community (Middle Ramu Block 1) in opened in 2009. A flood destroyed two of the school buildings in 2010. Four teachers and 150 students now live in classrooms built of temporary bush materials.