With ambitious pledge, Papua becomes conservation leader

An Indonesian Province the size of Norway has just publicly committed to protect at least 83 per cent of its land area as undisturbed natural habitat—a goal that immediately marks it as a world leader in environmental conservation.

The Province of Papua, which comprises four-tenths of the South Pacific island of New Guinea, announced its commitment at the end of meetings this week in Jayapura, the Provincial capital.

The commitment was made by Assistant Governor Elia Loupatty, accompanied by the heads or representatives of 13 provincial agencies in Papua.

“This is a remarkable milestone—one that should echo around the world,” said Judith Dipodiputro, coordinator of Project Papua, an initiative of Indonesian President Joko Widodo that is promoting sustainable development in the region.

The initiative is receiving technical support from Project Papua, the Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia, and James Cook University in Australia.

The 83 per cent figure for conservation—which could reach as high as 90 per cent—follows from a government plan that maps future development in the province.

“Papua faces many development challenges,” said Dr Noak Kapisa, director of the Papuan Environment Office. “It has thousands of remote villages, needs to expand agriculture, and is building a Trans-Papuan Highway that will stretch across the Province.”

Professor Bill Laurance from James Cook University said a key challenge for the province is balancing economic development and building some 4,000 kilometers of major roads while still meeting the 83 percent pledge.

But Laurance was quick to praise the Papuan government. “I’ve been involved in nature conservation for 35 years and this is probably the most impressive commitment I’ve seen,” he said.

“To meet its ambitious conservation goals, Papua is going to need financial support from the international community and federal government,” said Ms Dipodiputro.

“It’s one of our best chances ever to protect a vast, environmentally critical region for the benefit of Indonesians and future generations,” said Mr Loupatty.

For further information:

Professor Bill Laurance, Director of ALERT (http://www.alert-conservation.org)
Director, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science
College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
Email: bill.laurance@jcu.edu.au (monitored continuously); Phone: +62-812-6369-3774 and +62-812-6368-5267

Ms Tisna Nando, Communications Manager, Director, Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia
Email: snando@wcs.org; Phone: +62-8116-808197

Ms Judith Dipodiputro, Director, Project Papua (Pokja Papua)
Email: judith.dipodiputro@gmail.com; Phone: +62-8119-222808

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