The Bird’s Head Seascape reports that Indonesia’s West Papua Province (which includes Raja Ampat, Triton Bay and Cenderwasih Bay) was awarded the Global Conservation Hero Award by Conservation International (CI) at the organization’s annual gala at Milk Studios in Los Angeles, California on 8 June. In March this year, the West Papua parliament approved legislation that will make West Papua the country’s first-ever conservation province.
This will protect the most intact marine ecosystems remaining in Indonesia, promotes the development of sustainable livelihoods, and recognizes the rights of indigenous people.
The policy stated that West Papua stipulates a minimum of 50 percent of its marine area as a watershed conservation area, with 20 percent of it included in the no-take zone, tightening various permits for large-scale plantations, explicitly mentioning the need to develop a green economy, along with increasing access to utilization and profit sharing from natural resources for indigenous peoples.
Conservation International’s CEO Dr. M. Sanjayan noted that with strong commitment from the West Papua Government and its people, it is expected that at least 70 percent of the province’s land will be protected for the future.
Located in the Bird’s Head Seascape, West Papua is one of the most biodiverse regions on the earth, home to more than 1,800 species of fish, three quarters of the world’s hard corals, and new species are found regularly.
With 90 percent forest cover, it holds one of the world’s most important intact rainforests, much of which remains unexplored. The 120,777 square km province also holds the world’s largest mangrove forest and significant peatlands, habitats which hold four times the amount of carbon than the average terrestrial forest and are essential to combating climate change.
Up to the beginning of 2019, West Papua has 4.6 million hectares of Marine Protected Areas (MPA), or more than 25 percent of Indonesia’s 2020 MPA’s target.