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EditPhoto Title:Community-driven Conservation in Papua New Guinea
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EditImage Description:Women and girls at the Celebration of the YUS Conservation Area Dedication in the Teptep village, Papua New Guinea
EditPhoto Credit:© Bruce M Beehler
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With 1% of the world’s land mass, Papua New Guinea contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity — and CI is empowering local communities to protect it.

Papua New Guinea, an ecological and cultural place like no other, is nestled in the southwestern Pacific Ocean’s Coral Triangle north of Australia. A land of many contrasts, the country boasts rugged, cloud-shrouded mountains, where agriculture has been practiced for over 9,000 years, alongside uninhabited islands surrounded by reefs teeming with life. Rich in biodiversity, its forests are home to birds-of-paradise, tree kangaroos, long-beaked echidnas, birdwing butterflies and thumbnail-sized frogs — among other species, many not yet discovered or studied. Surrounded by seas colored by corals and reef fishes and islets that serve as nesting areas for turtles and sea birds, Papua New Guinea also has over 800 living languages, making it one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.

Our role

For nearly 20 years, CI has worked with communities, governments, industries and agencies throughout Papua New Guinea to develop innovative conservation of important species and ecosystems. We have also worked with local communities and researchers to identify new species in Papua New Guinea’s forests, streams, reefs, caves and mountains through our Rapid Assessment Program’s field assessment, providing vital information about the country’s biodiversity to community and government leaders as they plan for a sustainable future.

Our plan

Build local capacity

CI plans to empower the people of Papua New Guinea through on-the-ground, community-driven conservation initiatives and to advise local and national governments on sustainable environmental planning. CI’s current efforts focus on the island communities of Milne Bay in eastern Papua New Guinea. In partnership with the provincial government and communities there, we are building local capacity in natural resource management and conservation.

For example, the Learning and Training Network for Community-based Marine Resource Management — established by Papua New Guinea’s Centre for Locally Managed Marine Areas, along with CI, the Department of Environment and Conservation, and local nonprofits​ — promotes understanding and good practices in community-based resource management through education materials, outreach, training, mentoring, exchange visits and continually bringing new management tools to stakeholders.

CI aims to further empower these communities to recognize and use their abilities to maintain and improve their livelihoods through sustainable management of their environment. With our wealth of experience in community empowerment and conservation advocacy success, we have also implemented “Spreading the Reach” campaigns and created materials that facilitate positive environmental management in Milne Bay’s remote communities that do not often receive development support.

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    Edit Section Title: Communities teaching communities
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      Edit Image Description: Man snorkeling, Milne Bay
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      In Milne Bay, the Nuakata Iabam-Pahilele Community Managed Marine Area (NIPCMMA) is more than a band of concerned citizens — a local government law passed in November 2011 grants the community legal authority to perform their own biological monitoring, management, fundraising and reporting.

      Community members from Nuakata and Iabam-Pahilele worked with CI to develop NIPCMMA, and now these communities are helping to do the same for nearby Wiyaloki, Netuli and Panabala, as exchanges have brought community members together to share their hands-on experience and advance their monitoring and management techniques. During past exchanges, several Wiyaloki community members were young people, which brought a new dynamic to the trainings. Seeing themselves as trainers and leaders for future generations gave added meaning to the important work, according to the participants. Community concern and responsibility for the area means that motivation to keep the marine area active is high. These trainings, facilitated by Nuakata for Wiyaloki, Netuli and Panabala, are the first examples of communities teaching communities in Milne Bay. With interest increasing from other island groups throughout the province, the opportunities for communities to serve as teachers and ambassadors to their peers for effective community-based management will continue to grow.

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      Edit Photo Credit: © Conservation International/photo by Noel Wangunu
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        First Image

        EditImage Alt Text:View of a man in a boat and underwater coral reef in Bird's Head, Raja Ampat, Indonesia. © Conservation International/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn

        Second Image

        EditTitle:Bird's Head Seascape
        EditImage Alt Text:Wayag Lagoon, Bird's Head Seascape, Indonesia. © Will Turner

        Third Image

        EditTitle:The Ocean
        EditImage Alt Text:Coral reef in Viti Levu, Fiji, Oceania. © William Crosse