Papua and West Papua have the potential of abundant natural resources in the form of oil and gas and mineral mining materials and various indigenous tribes with their respective local languages and customs as attractions. Its abundant biodiversity has also been recognized worldwide.
At least until early 2019, Papua was inhabited by 20,000 plant species (55% endemic species), including around 2,000 orchid species, 125 mammal species (58% endemic species), herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians), 223 species (35% endemic species), and 602 bird species (52% endemic species).
In addition, there are 25 species of freshwater fish and 1,200 species of marine fish, and an estimated 150,000 species of insects. These are all primary assets for sustainable economic development based on land, sea, and creativity.
West Papua Conservation Province – The Idea
Abundant natural resources are inversely proportional to the level of community prosperity. Poverty has become a blurry portrait in this area; it always occupies the second lowest position in the human development index ranking (HDI). If left unchecked, the preservation of nature will be threatened and will not impact the community’s welfare.
Endemic species also face the threat of extinction due to habitat destruction. Birds of Paradise, for example, only live on the island of Waigeo at a certain altitude. About 75 percent of the world’s hard coral and reef fish species are in Raja Ampat, Cenderawasih Bay, and Kaimana.
Therefore, an idea was born from the first provincial governor, Bram Atoruri. He thought about how best to develop 9 million hectares of the forest without harming the environment. The idea that has been hidden for so long is finally slowly being realized.
The Provincial Secretary (Sekda), together with Provincial Government officials, partners, and staff from the University of Papua (Unipa), processed the idea until it led to the Declaration of Conservation Province on October 19, 2015, in Manokwari.
The Provincial Government and BHS Partners (Bird Head Seascape) then drafted a special regional regulation (Perdasus) for the designation of West Papua Province as a Conservation Province.
Entering its third year (2018), the Provincial Government and Conservation International (CI) Indonesia held a series of campaign events with the theme People’s Party for Conservation on 7-10 October 2018. Activities included the screening of the Conservation Province film and workshops.
The most crucial part of the entire series of activities of the International Conference on Biodiversity, Ecotourism, and Creative Economy (ICBE), is the socialization of relevant parties about the Conservation Province and gathering support and input for its implementation.
There are three main points as the result of the socialization through the international conference:
- The ratification of the Perdasus on the Determination of Conservation Provinces and the Recognition of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to natural resources
- Revision of the provincial spatial plan to designate a minimum of 70% of land areas as protected areas
- Revision of the permit process for natural forest conversion, capacity building of human resources, the development of sustainable funding to support sustainable conservation activities, and the establishment of new conservation areas.
West Papua Conservation Province – Follow-up
After five years as a Conservation Province, finally, West Papua socialized the Special Regional Regulation (Perdasus) Number 10 of 2019 in October 2019. The contents are about the sustainable development plan as a form of commitment to the declaration made earlier.
They are stated in the Perdasus, among others, regarding the determination made by this province in protecting 70% of forests and 50% of marine habitats. In principle, this Perdasus is intended to reorganize land, from what used to be 34% of land conservation areas to 70%.
West Papua Province was declared a Conservation Province to protect natural resources for future generations. Of course, it does not reduce the quality, quantity, and sustainable management to improve the welfare of the entire community.