West Papua Conservation Province: Efforts and Challenges

West Papua
Sumber : Bird's Head Seascape

On October 19, 2020, the West Papua provincial government socialized the Special Regional Regulation (Perdasus) No. 10 of 2019 regarding sustainable development plans, as a follow-up to the commitment to the declaration to become a Conservation Province on October 19, 2015. The particular regional regulation number 10 includes protecting 70% of forests and 50% of marine habitats.

The implementation of the Conservation Province is carried out in stages, in a short time, involving various parties seriously, and becomes an unbroken cycle. The performance is a step of the provincial government in realizing the implementation of the conservation principles and the government’s vision and mission. However, its implementation cannot separate some challenging obstacles.

West Papua
Sumber : Research Gate

The Importance of Conservation in West Papua

Papua is the center of the most biodiversity globally and has 70 percent of natural mangrove forests that can hold more carbon than forests on land. Caring for the potential of mangrove forests has an impact on mitigating climate change.

The life of the Papuan people depends on nature. They manage the natural potential with local wisdom from generation to generation. At least until the end of 1999, the forest in this area was still green, and the sea was still blue.

Large-scale changes in forest functions may occur when entering the 2000s for the benefit of the current generation, without paying attention to the rights of future generations, even for reasons of community economic development.

The biggest problems that cause forest areas to decrease are illegal logging, conversion of land to mining and oil palm plantations, and infrastructure development. On the other hand, the processing industry, which is not labor-intensive, is still dominating the pulse of the regional economy. As a result, the level of community welfare has not met expectations.

Local governments and communities are starting to realize and feel obligated to do something for the stability of nature conservation and protect natural resources from extinction. Genuine efforts continue to encourage the birth of a legal document in the form of a Special Regional Regulation (PERDASUS).

Conservation Challenges in West Papua

The main obstacle in realizing conservation is the assumption that preservation is unnecessary and part of development planning. Public understanding, especially indigenous Papuans, is also still limited about the importance of nature conservation and conservation.

Funds, deforestation, destructive fishing practices, over-utilization without regard to the balance of the ecosystem, and weak governance are also challenges in realizing conservation area management.

Conservation Area Management Efforts

To go according to plan despite being stumbled by several challenges, here are some of the leading efforts made by the West Papua Provincial Government and conservation International Indonesia (CSI):

  • Sustainable Funding

In collaboration with The Nature Conservancy and WWF, CSI created a sustainable funding scheme called the Blue Abadi Fund. When it was launched on February 24, 2017, it fundraised US$23 million or 300 billion rupiahs. These funds will be used to support the community-based management of the Bird’s Head Seascape.

  • Resource Capacity Building

CSI facilitates capacity building of human resources to manage resources by planning and enhancing the skills needed to realize effective management of the roles of local government, local communities, and adat.

  • Environmentally Friendly Development

The provincial government and CSI believe that the REDD+ program will minimize threats in the early stages of economic development. The programs prioritize Low-Carbon Economic Development, green economy development, management or utilization of regional potential to encourage tourism development, including mountain nature tourism, island tourism, beach tourism, and cultural attractions.

The goals of the Conservation Province‘s efforts are to realize sustainable forests for the welfare of the people. The essence of the declaration made on October 19, 2015, was to encourage joint efforts to maintain the beautiful and rich biodiversity in the province of West Papua to remain sustainable so that posterity can enjoy it in the future.