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Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Mur children watching a turtle conservation video
during a Turtle Training at Dawang Primary School.

We have a truly beautiful, rich, and unique country with  800 plus different cultures. At MAKATA we strive to contribute in a small way towards developing our nation with other partners through sustainable conservation outreach and livelihood programs.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has a land area of about 462 840 square kilometers with a small population of about 7 million people.  It occupies 1 per cent of the world‘s land area, and has about 6 to 7 per cent of world‘s total biodiversity which is equivalent to 400,000 to 700,000 species from an estimated 14 million species on earth thus globally recognised as one of the four mega-diversity areas of the world. It has 5,000 lakes, extensive river systems, 5,000 miles mangrove swamps (1.5 % land area), 8,000km2 of ocean, including 4,000km2 of coral reefs (NBSAP, 2007).

Located within the Coral Triangle, a region recognised for its unparalleled coral reef biodiversity, PNG boasts of some of the most unique, endemic and also endangered marine habitats, invertebrates, vertebrates, coral reefs, seagrass and mangroves.

It boasts to have the second largest nesting site of the critically endangered Leatherback Turtles located in the Huon Coast in Morobe Province with sporadic sites in Madang and other maritime provinces.

To ensure that these resources remain intact, PNG had signed the Treaty on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)  in 1992 and ratified it in March 1993.  Under this obligation PNG must fulfill 3 CBD Objectives which are:
(1)   Conservation of biological diversity.
(2)   Sustainable use of its components; and
(3)   Fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources

This means that PNG, like most countries of the world, has committed to a number of binding obligations in the Articles of the Convention. 

Of most direct importance to the Policy is Article 8 on ‘in-situ biodiversity conservation’, which commits PNG to establish and manage a system of protected areas, and to ensure that traditional lifestyles linked to the land are also protected.  Many of the other Articles are relevant to protected areas in PNG, including those about monitoring and identification of biodiversity values (Wickham et al., 2010).

Target 11 of the Aichi Biodiversity Target under CBD’s Objective calls for all governments who have signed the CBD treaty and ratified it to ensure that: “By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystems services of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures are integrated into the wider landscape and seascape;”

In addition, Target 12 points out that: “By 2020, the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.”

Target 12 is MAKATA’s core business in light of saving, protecting and restoring populations of the critically endangered Leatherback Turtles in ways that also improve lives of indigenous local communities who share the beaches these gentle creatures come to nest.

PNG also ratified the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES), in 1976 which meant that Papua New Guineans are forbidden to trade endangered species such as sea turtles.

To achieve these obligations is not easy in PNG.  This is because 97% of PNG land is customary owned and only 3 to 4 % is State owned.  Traditional customary tenure system in PNG is recognized by the country’s constitution and national laws.  This gives land owners freedom to determine how they wish to manage or give access to others to use their land, water and sea resources upon which they are heavily dependent upon.  


In 1990, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), PNG joined 177 other countries in accepting the earth charter known as the “Rio Declaration on Environment and Development” - an environment bill of right delineating the principles for economic and environmental behavior of people and nations. 

The Rio Declaration is a statement of 27 principles which the States agreed to implement at the domestic level in dealing with environment and development issues. (PNGBSAP, Work Draft 1, September 2005).

At UNCED, PNG also made a commitment to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use by adopting: 1. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); 2. The Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC); 3. Agenda 21 and 4. (PNGBSAP, Work Draft 1, September 2005).

The adoption of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) and other treaties and the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, the Forest Principles, the Johannesburg Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of implementation (JPOI) by PNG manifests the country’s willingness to join hands with the global community in tackling many of the world’s environmental problems.  By international standards, PNG has shown strong enthusiasm in the field of international environmental law – making. (PNGBSAP, Work Draft 1, September 2005).

PNG’s obligations in relation to three United Nations multilateral environmental agreements, and progress towards meeting these obligations, were assessed in 2010 (Wickham et al., 2010)
These are the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In addition, PNG is a signatory to the International Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar) and the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) since 1997.

World Heritage Sites are places that have outstanding universal values, either natural or cultural or both. To be accepted as World Heritage sites, they must be nominated by the Government of PNG and then assessed by international, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

When sites are inscribed on the World list, countries commit to undertaking “the appropriate legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary for the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and rehabilitation of this heritage”   United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 1972, p.3).

There is currently one existing World Heritage Area in PNG, Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands Province, while another seven proposed areas are on the “tentative” list.

PNG is also a signatory to the Convention on the Protection of Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region (PNRESP). As a signatory to this Convention, PNG is required to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems and depleted, threatened or endangered flora and fauna, as well as their habitat (Article 14). As part of this obligation, PNG must establish effectively manage protected areas.

According to PNGBSAP, 2007 report, almost all the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) require corresponding domestic commitment to make the treaty work.  “Thus, in the case of CBD, PNG is required to:

  • Create a system of protected areas to conserve biological diversity (Article 8);
  • Develop mechanisms for the prevention and introduction of control or eradication of alien species which threaten ecosystems (Article 8);
  • Develop systems for the preservation and maintenance of knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application through appropriate legal, policy and administrative arrangement (Article 8j);
  • Protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional and cultural practices (Article 10);
  • Develop incentives measures for the sustainable use and management of the countries biological resources (Article 11);
  • Promote research and training (Article 12);
  • Promote and strengthen public education and training in biological resources management (Article 13);
  • Introduce mechanisms to strengthen impact assessment and minimizing adverse impacts on the country’s biological diversity (Article 14);
  • Develop strategies that promote access to genetic resources (Article 15);
  • Identify and strengthen strategies to access and transfer technology (Article 16);
  • Introduce legislative, administrative or policy measures to regulate and manage biotechnology research and benefit sharing (Article 19); and
  • Strengthen partnerships to promote access to financial resources (Article 20 and 21).”
The report added that: “Most of the JPOI goals trace their origins to the Millennium Declaration of 2000.
It was perceived that the implementation of JPOI will also lead to the realization of the MDG.  Amongst eight other goals is: Goal 7.  Ensure Environmental Sustainability.”

These sets of international environmental obligations require concerted and affirmative action by nation States to achieve them.

Our work aims to translate some of these international commitments into domestic action.  This truly requires working in partnership with all relevant stakeholders in PNG as well as by nation States that have made these commitments.

We know from more than 8 years of working with local communities in Madang, that there is very little to show for PNG’s active participation at the UNCED in Rio and its membership to relevant MEA and other international conventions at the domestic level. 

In PNG we are faced with a paradox or a dilemma.  On one end we strive to fulfill our international environmental obligations through appropriate biodiversity conservation and sustainable development aspirations. Yet, on another end, we are forced to exploit our natural resources to fulfill our Vision 2050 through the PNG Development Strategic Plan 2010-2030.  In order to fulfill V2050 and PNGDSP 2010-2030 goal to attain a “high quality of life for all Papua New Guineans,” we are vigorously exploiting our country’s biological and mineral resources for economic growth. 

At MAKATA, we believe that by working in partnership with relevant stakeholders, we can prove that biodiversity conservation and sustainable use process in PNG can be achieved even if it is painstakingly slow.  It is therefore imperative that our strategic plan is funded. With funding support we can also contribute to influence communities we work with to take on overall development planning processes to achieve PNG V2050 through its PNG DSP 2010-2030 thus working towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. 


PNG’s land, water and marine resources are under accelerating pressure from increased population growth, and an upscale in massive extractive industries growth on both renewable and non-renewable resources to meet a growing local and overseas demand. 

This has contributed towards increase pollution, and sedimentation choking and poisoning our land, water and reef systems.  It has seen the depletion of vast scale of tropical virgin forests destroyed, damages caused to lakes, flowing rivers and crystal rapid streams, water logged areas, and depletion of habitats, and biodiversity including the endemic and endangered flora and fauna of PNG.

In Madang with the proposed Pacific Marine Industrial Zone coming up with the full blessings from the Prime Minister, large volume of wastes from PMIZ will enter the lagoon adding to wastes already released from RD canning, James Barnes, and Madang town residents.  Report obtained from a local scientist indicated that prevailing north-west and south-east winds will definitely move the scums full of urea from the PMIZ along the shore within the lagoon area thus polluting recreational and fishing areas and smother coral reefs and seagrass meadows. Lives of locals within the Madang Lagoon who still relly heavily on fishing and the sea as their major source of livelihood will be affected.

A petition by the local community leaders, representatives of people of the Bel and Ari villages and Madang people during a meeting at Riwo on 4th May, 2015 argues amongst other issues that there is no Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on the current state of the air, land and sea in the Madang lagoon and Vidar area to establish a baseline data for future monitoring and control of levels of pollution from all PMIZ actvities.

The villagers added that there is no guarantee that their four (4) gazetted locally managed Marine/Wildlife Management Areas within the Madang Lagoon will be protected from pollutions.

Madang’s Ramu Nickel and Cobalt mine’s disposal of wastes into the sea at Basamuk, and the proposed Yandera gold mine whose wastes if dumped into the sea will add more pollution to the marine resources in Madang.

King Tides along most of the coastal and offshore island communities are another natural disaster that affects marine habitat, coral reefs, sea grass and turtle nesting sites. 

As villages expand to accommodate growing population, more mangroves in the Madang lagoon extending from Bilia to Rempi and other coastal areas are also being chopped off for firewood, resettlements, housing or other purposes.

Expansion of villages or from cocoa and coconut plantations along the coast from Madang town all the way to Bogia or to the south has also completely destroyed once pristine turtle nesting beaches.

The proposed PNG Ports intention to develop Madang’s second sea port at Dylup Plantation is another development that is of great concern to the Karkum, Sarang, Mirap, and their inland people.  They want to know how that development will affect their marine resources as they too depend very much on their marine resources for sustenance.

Human induced industrial activities have seen increase in social disorder leading to breakdown in traditional lifestyles and social systems.  People who are at the forefront of depleting natural resources unsustainably have allowed climate change to take its toll causing devastating effects on vulnerable small islands, coastal communities and highlands communities.


For the State to meet its CBD and other international obligations, indigenous local community resource managers need to be empowered to establish “protected” or adaptive resource management or conservation areas on their land, water and sea resources. 

After almost 40 years since independence, PNG is estimated to have an established 56 protected areas.  This is about 3 per cent of the total land mass of PNG.

A review for the World Bank/WWF Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use showed that 73% of PNG’s Protected Areas have minimal or no management structure, 16% had no management  at all, 8% had a management structure but there were serious gaps and only 3% were managed with a good infrastructure (IUCN, 1999:26).

This is far below the anticipated CBD’s Objective of 17% of land and water and 10% of marine resources to be protected by 2020

This is compounded further by the fact that there aren’t any Ranger Programs currently operating under the State’s relevant authorities or respective provincial governments to ensure that the established protected or Wildlife Management Areas are managed. 

In  essence, much of the 56 protected areas documented in the National Biodiversity Structural Adjustment Program document are not being managed adequately.  Some don’t even seem to exist at all.  This clearly demonstrates lack of effective resource manangement, protection or conservation of existing protected areas.

Under such circumstances, urgent steps are needed immediately by all responsible citizens and stake holders to address this issue. 

One way of achieving this is for the State and provincial governments to work in partnership with NGOs and Community Based Organsations to help indigenous local community resource owners establish, sustain and manage their resources through the different conservation programs.

Conservation programs if funded and supported by the National, or Provincial Governments or donor partners will further help achieve the guiding Principles of the Policy on ‘Protected Areas’ as, “A fair and thoughtful system of management area network.”


The internationally accepted definition of a protected area developed by the IUCN after extensive consultation is “a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values” (Dudley 2008 p.8)

Accomplishing PNG’s Protected Area Policy will ultimately achieve the 4th National Goal and Directive Principle of the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. 

The 4th National Goal and Directive Principle on Natural resources and environment reads: -

(1) wise use to be made of our natural resources and the environment in and on the land or seabed, in the sea, under the land, and in the air, in the interests of our development and in trust for future generations; and
(2) the conservation and replenishment, for the benefit of ourselves and posterity, of the environment and its sacred, scenic, and historical qualities; and
(3) all necessary steps to be taken to give adequate protection to our valued birds, animals, fish, insects, plants and trees.


Necessary legislation listed below that currently deals with protected areas include:
  • National Parks Act (1984).
  • Conservation Area Act (1978)
  • Fauna (Protection and Control ) Act 1966

In addition, these Acts are being complemented by other relevant legislations which are currently being reviewed, such as the Fisheries Management Act (1988), the Forestry Act (1991), the Mining and Petroleum Act, and the Maritime Transport Act (1994) to ensure there is nothing inconsistent in these Acts with the new protected areas legislation.

The Government is also making changes required to the Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-Level Governments Act to complement the new protected areas legislation, to enable provincial governments to declare and gazette protected areas.

It is therefore imperative that we work in close partnership with the Madang Provincial Administration (MPA) to link the efforts we do with local communities in establishing their adaptive resource management plans with the provincial environmental laws and policies so that their efforts can be gazetted in the Madang Sustainable Development Plan.   This plan was launched on 28th of February 2014.


The critical status of the existense and survival of the Leatherback turtle has seen Indonesia, PNG and the Solomon Islands sign a Memorandum of Understanding to conserve it. 

The PNG, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to effect the call by IUCN to save the critically endangered leatherback turtle in the Western Pacific. They reached the agreement in a workshop of the 3rd Meeting of Tri-National Partnership to the Conservation and Management of Leatherback Turtles in Jimbara, Bali on August 28-30, 2006.


The CTI-CFF is a multilateral partnership between the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

At the Leader’s Summit in 2009, these governments agreed to adopt a 10-year CTI Regional Plan of Action (RPOA) to safeguard the region’s marine and coastal biological resources.
The RPOA has five goals: strengthening the management of seascapes; promoting an ecosystem approach to fisheries management; establishing and improving effective management of marine protected areas; improving coastal community resilience to climate change; and protecting threatened species.

This is further amplified in the CTI Regional Priority Actions and Coordination Workshop 2010-2011 held at Hotel Borobudur, Jakarta, Indonesia from 17-19 May 2010 to identify the first regional collective actions for implementing the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Regional Plan of Action Recommended under its 2.1    Priority Actions nine priority actions from the, Regional Plan of Action that required collective action(s), or that generated economies of scale that warranted collective or parallel actions. These included:

  • “ Goal 5 (Threatened Species), Target 1 (Improved status of sharks, sea turtles, seabirds, marine mammals, coral, seagrass, mangroves and other identified threatened species), Action 3: Complete and implement region-wide Sea Turtles Conservation Action Plan.”

The State has further documented the status of the Leatherback turtle efforts in its Coral Triangle Initiative’s report under Goal 5’s Threatened Species, where it has acknowledged MAKATA’s efforts.


Saving Leatherback Turtles and restoring its population not only protects indigenous cultural heritage and protein.  It has also greatly contributed to the local and national economies through tourism and other social and infrastructure support services.

This is quite evident for the Karkum Villagers who admitted they had made more than K30,000.00 in 2009 alone from local and international tourists including staff and students from the Madang Teachers College who visit their community for their environmental studies. 

The bill board erected at the entrance of Karkum village was from funds received from a group of National Alliance of Indigenous Land and Sea Managers (NAILSMA), in Australia who visited Karkum and spent a couple of days sharing their experiences with them.  Just visit Karkum village and listen to their exciting stories of how the leatherback turtle program has impacted their lives and what benefits they have received from it since its establishment.

They also received funding assistance from the former Australian High Commission to PNG, Ian Kemish in 2010.  Mr. Kemish and his delegation visited Karkum to observe how money used from the Australian High Commission Head of Mission Direct Aid Programme (HOMDAP) funding was used to build Karkum’s community hall for their efforts to save the leatherback turtles.  Article on this story was published on Monday, 12 April in The National newspaper, page 11.

MAKATA had also donated computer and accessories, library books, and other resources to Karkum since the establishment of this project with support from WWF, Buk Bilong Pikinini and World Bank.

Efforts to save, and restore the population of the Leatherback Turtles have led us to assist local communities establish their community resource management plan.  It evolved into a holistic marine conservation effort where villagers are assisted to sustainably use their natural resources using an adaptive marine resource management plan.

Threats to the Leatherback Turtles have also instigated us to address other potential threats in Madang province.  We have raised concerns on the experimental sea bed mining, Pacific Marine Industrial Zone, and tailings into the sea from Ramu-Nickel and Cobalt mine and other industrial activities.

To summarize, establishing “protected” areas helps save leatherback turtles.  It can be the basis of sustainable livelihoods for the customary landowners, through supported local adaptive resource management or land use planning which sets out and protects the landowners’ agreed areas for food production; access to forest, grassland, freshwater and marine resources; and conservation areas.

Protected areas keep options open for future generations, by conserving samples of the landscapes and seascapes with their plants, animals and cultural stories intact.  Once these places are lost or degraded it is very difficult and expensive – or impossible – to fully restore them.

It is therefore very crucial and significant that urgent steps are taken to save Leatherback Turtles by enabling communities to establish their respective adaptive resource management plans.  This will help save the critically endangered Leatherback Turtles from going into extinct in this 21st century. 

Damage caused once can remain irreversible.  If you apply this same analogy of leatherback turtle to coral reefs or any other flora and fauna, you will get the same sad scenario. We therefore have a job to do to save the critically endangered Leatherback Turtles and help communities establish their adaptive resource management plans.

Any funding support to MAKATA, in-kind donation, library books, computers for communities and schools in our project sites will be most appreciated.


We would like to strengthen this partnership with Mahonia Na Dari and the Madang Catholic Education Division to continue and run Marine Environment Education Program (MEEP) for our local schools in Madang. 

Marine Environment Education Program (MEEP) is an education and awareness program pioneered and developed by the Mahonia Na Dari Research Institution, a Papua New Guinean National Non –Government Organization.  Mahonia Na Dari Institute is based in the Nature Center adjacent to the Walindi Plantation Resort about 15 minutes’ drive along the coastal road towards the West coast.  Hence the MEEP since its inception and introduction has been targeting school children from primary and secondary schools in Kimbe and the surroundings. Teachers have also been targeted by the program and quite a number have gone through the program. The program has also extended to other New Guinea islands provinces as funding permitted Mahonia Na Dari focuses on marine education and awareness as its major program activity.

MEEP is basically a marine environment education program with a fully developed curriculum and associated course materials etc. There is a theory side of the MEEP which is taught inside a lecture room setting and a practical side of it which introduces students to the marine world through snorkeling and observation of the various unique marine habitats including mangroves, sea grass and coral reefs. Students also utilized the wet laboratory by bringing specimen to further study with the aid of the microscopes. 

The MEEP covers concepts in basic marine biology, marine ecology, threats, conservation and resource management. The resource materials used are designed in accordance to the syllabus used in the PNG education curriculum.

Kimbe Bay where Mahonia Na Dari is situated is a very ideal setting for such program.

MEEP is conducted by Mahonia Na Dari to coastal schools and communities of West New Britain. The program was initiated in 1997, and has expanded to cater for the needs of schools outside of the province.  Intensive MEEP is offered to three (3) secondary/high school students. The participants in the program are particularly interested students who meet requirements (as set out by MEEP). They fill in an application and selection criteria are used to select student.

MEEP is run on Saturdays (so that it doesn’t clash or affect normal school activities) for 9 weeks and it ends with student participants undertaking a marine awareness of what they have learnt to accessible primary schools. The participants are presented with a certificate of participation upon completion of the program.

The program is aimed to instill conservation ethics into the young generation as we believe they can influence future decision making. This program is also tailored to suit the different level of audience. MEEP is also conducted in teachers training to primary school teachers to complement the stand alone subject, “Environmental Studies”.


In December 2014, we were invited by the inland Basken people to assist them establish their Land Use Plan.  This has seen MAKATA conduct community awareness at Basken on general environmental issues and on the Convention on Biological Monitoring as part of its Participatory Rural Appraisal exercise.  MAKATA intends to spend more time with Basken, Karkum, and Sarang communities in Sumkar District which are within our current project sites to develop their landscape and landuse plans.


We have received invitations from Pepaur, Busip, Aidibal, Kayan, Marangis and other communities in Bogia. Jimmy K Giliai from Moban has also invited us to help his people at Tabel Primary School, Kuduk, Moban and Buson villagers on Karkar Island. This will also give us the opportunity to visit communities on the East coast of Karkar Island particularly where the Bagiai WMA is located.  Bagiai WMA consists of 13,760 Ha of Marine/Terrestrial are in gazette. Bagabag Islanders have also asked us to help them. In Rai Coast we would also like to extend our activities to Long Island where the government has already established Ranba’s 41,922 Ha of Marine/Terrestrial Sanctuary also gazette there.  Long Island’s “Point Kiau” use to be Leatherback Turtles major nesting site.  We heard recently that the population had plummeted.  We need to verify this and upscale conservation efforts there.  Another place we want to extend our work to is the Crown Island which has 58,969 Ha of Wildlife Sanctuary.  We would love to extend our work all the way to Roinji at the boarder of Morobe and Madang provinces.

Forest Plan for 2006 indicated that the government has identified Manam Island as a proposed conservation area for Madang Province.  We cannot wait to visit Manam and help the communities there to establish their adaptive resource management plans.

In March 2015, we helped YUS Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program-PNG conduct its first Marine Monitoring Program for Roinji and Singirokai villagers in the Wasu LLG of Morobe Province.  This opens up new windows of opportunities for MAKATA to share our knowledge and skills with other partners outside of Madang Province achieve their land use plans.


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