There is a well-known adage: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
Bearing this in mind, we have designed an interactive marine conservation education program to reach children and adults in the 89 villages of Raja Ampat in the Bird’s Head Seascape. Because the villages are so remote, we are using an innovative “floating marine conservation classroom” that will visit each village in turn.
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Of the three initiatives funded by the Blue Auction, this program is the most long-term and strikes at the heart of the biggest challenge conservationists face – changing people’s behavior and their view of the natural world. We believe this innovative curriculum will dramatically increase local people’s understanding of their unparalleled global heritage and encourage them to become better stewards of this biodiversity – for their own benefit as well as the planet’s.
Kalabia Sets Sail
The Kalabia marine conservation education program is an overwhelming success with villagers and the government of Raja Ampat. The educational team has now made 17 trips to different parts of Raja Ampat, educating more than 1,650 students.
ON VIDEO: Explore the underwater diversity that is benefiting from the Blue Auction.
The ship was out of action during the rough weather season between mid-June and mid-August, but it burst back on to the scene in Raja Ampat on August 30 when the Kalabia program was officially endorsed by the governor of West Papua and the regent (Bupati) of Raja Ampat.
The endorsements were part of a gala celebration that was attended by Indonesian media personalities and representatives of many of Raja Ampat’s 92 remote villages. The event featured custom performances by local Papuan dance troupes and demonstrations of the innovative Kalabia experiential learning curriculum by a joint team from CI and The Nature Conservancy.
Officials were so impressed by the mobile marine conservation education program that the governor has now committed to funding an expansion of the program to other areas of the Bird’s Head Seascape. And the regent of Kaimana (in the southern Bird’s Head) publicly pledged to launch a similar vessel, and has asked CI to provide technical assistance.
Kalabia to See All of Raja Ampat
Over the coming six months, the Kalabia has an intensive schedule that will involve traversing all 5 million hectares of Raja Ampat to share its conservation messages with children from each of Raja Ampat’s villages.
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The Kalabia team now functions as a well-oiled machine. They often find it difficult to weigh anchor and leave a village after completing a three-day curriculum, as emotional children cry for them to stay!
Over the coming months, the Kalabia team will work with CI marine conservation education consultant Angela Beer to design an additional curriculum for adults in each of the villages the Kalabia visits. Stay tuned for further updates.
You can also read an update on the Taxonomic Capacity Building Initiative >>