Kikori Basin Conservation

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Pacific Ocean > Papua New Guinea

Butress tree in swamp forest, Sitipa River, Papua New Guinea
© © Paul Chatterton / WWF-Canon

Summary

This project is facilitating the long-term protection of the natural environment of Kikori Basin and its rich biological diversity by the communities living in the region, and promoting sustainable, economic development of these communities.

The project will assist local people in establishing a model of ecologically sustainable development that protects significant natural resources and promotes sustainable resource use through activities such as: ecoforestry; ecotourism; protected area management; and cottage industries. WWF envisages that, upon the completion of this project, the proposed model of integrated conservation and development will be fully operated by the local people.

Background

An estimated 85% of Papua New Guinea is covered by natural forests. 97% of the land area is under customary tenure of local communities. The Kikori ICDP is working in an extensive area between the Doma Peaks and the Gulf Coast in the South Highlands and Gulf Provinces.

This large tract of country ranges from sea level to over 3,000m in altitude over a distance of 200km. It is remote, densely forested, and sparsely populated, with very few roads or large settlements. In the central portion of the proposed project area, a number of oil exploration ventures have been operating for 5 - 10 years. Papua New Guinea's (PNGs) first commercial oil deposits have been found there by the Kutubu Joint Venture (KJV). The company has constructed a pipeline to the Gulf of Papua and is actively extracting oil from the region.

Approximately 60,000 villagers live in this region, primarily subsistence farmers and hunters. Their lives and environment are changing rapidly as a direct and indirect result of the Kutubu Joint Venture project. In an effort to conserve the biodiversity and social stability of the region, WWF and the KJV have partnered with the KJV providing funding and WWF executing the ICDP. The proposed partnership has proven both farsighted and practical in grasping an opportunity, and in meeting the need to integrate environmental conservation and rural development in the vicinity of PNG's first commercial oil field.

Most of PNG's major terrestrial habitats are represented in the proposed project area. The spectrum of environments is particularly broad because of the altitude range. This is of special significance, as limited altitudinal and habitat distribution is one of the major features of the ecology of many wildlife species in the tropics. This applies especially to plants, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, and to a lesser extent, birds and mammals. With increasing altitute, both animal and plant species diversities decrease, to produce the striking contrast in the project area between the luxuriant growth of the lowland rainforest where species diversity is highest, to the scant, slow-growing vegetation of the high plateau where trees are stunted or absent.

Objectives

To provide technical and financial support to the local land owners as they plan the use and conservation of natural resources.

Solution

To provide technical and financial support to the local customary land owners as they plan the use and conservation of the natural resources.

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