We cleaned up Camp Ikan Biru and said "goodbye" to the forest today. During our two weeks in the Mamberamo area, we saw beautiful forest and amazing plants and animals. As we hiked out of the forest toward Dabra, I thought about the diversity of life this habitat supports.
We walked slowly, simply enjoying the way all those different taxa interact to create
|Hypsilurus sp., one of the cool lizards the herp team found in Mamberamo. © Debbie Gowensmith|
this forest. "Take a good look around you," Dan Polhemus said quietly to me. "There's not going to be a lot of this left in the world."
This evening we met with the people of Dabra. As the sky blazed pink behind me, each taxonomic group briefly shared with the residents what they'd seen and learned about the forest. I watched the residents' faces as they listened intently, eyes shining in the light of the lantern, and as they asked questions. Our team leader, Steve Richards, concluded by thanking them for allowing us to visit their land, encouraging them to feel pride for the unique diversity of their forest, expressing our hopes that they continue to care for it, and promising to provide them with information gleaned from our two weeks here. We all shook hands afterward.
Tomorrow we fly back to Jayapura. But our work isn't over. We'll spend a few days writing a preliminary report about
|This Limnonectes grunniens waits patiently for me to take its photograph. © Debbie Gowensmith|
the rapid survey. The report will not only be posted here, but will also be distributed in Dabra. Over the next year as the scientists further study the data they collected, they'll write a final report. Because the Rapid Assessment Program seeks not just to gather scientific information but to get that information into the hands of people who can use it, the final report will also be distributed in Dabra and to others. They can use what we learned about the forest to support conservation efforts there.
The participants who completed the training course in Yongsu and those who have now completed this rapid survey in Mamberamo can continue to learn about biodiversity in Irian Jaya. They can continue to explore the forests here, gather information, analyze it, share it.
And maybe we can ensure that healthy forests that support a diversity of organisms do continue to be a part of our world.
- Reported by Debbie Gowensmith
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