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Evaluating protected area management in New Guinea

Papua New Guinea
The case of the ‘broken’ protected areas
Guiding communities to manage protected areas is one thing. Assessing their performance is quite another.
WWF and its partners have developed a methodology called RAPPAM (Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Area Management), which has been put to use – with telling results – in both Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Indonesian part of the island. 

Lifting the veil on protected area management

In PNG, WWF ran the RAPPAM with the government’s Department of Environment and Conservation, bringing a range of management issues and threats to light.

One concern that came out, was that logging and mining concessions are routinely approved within protected areas without consultation with landowners.

Even if protected areas were satisfactorily managed – and this is far from being the case here – they are not sufficient and often not in the right places to ensure the long-term conservation of PNG’s biodiversity.

Urgently needed: improved protected areas management

The conclusions of the assessment were unequivocal: there is a pressing need to improve the management of existing protected areas and to establish new areas to curb expanding logging and oil palm development.

Top 5 Pressures (current)
• Gardening
• Hunting
• Conversion for agriculture
• Subsistence harvesting
• Commercial overfishing
Top 5 Threats (future)
• Logging
• Invasive species
• Hunting
• Mining
• Conversion for agriculture

RAPPAM in Indonesia's Papua Province: a similar story

Where management is in place, many weaknesses undermine its effectiveness. Too little staff, poor staff capacity, lack of adequate resources, and weak infrastructure are just some of the difficulties that face protected area authorities in Papua. Some of the main threats include illegal logging, over fishing, over-exploitation of natural resources, and hunting. 

Where to next?

Information generated by RAPPAM assessments, when obtained in collaboration with authorities, makes it much easier to advocate improved management of protected areas. Across New Guinea, WWF is making sure that the lessons learnt from RAPPAM are flowing into improved management plans.