Eight clans in the Bismarck Forest Corridor of Papua New Guinea agree on legally protecting their forest lands together.
On 31 August 2021, 8 clans from Kwiop, in the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), formally agreed to create a community conservation area by signing a conservation deed. They represent 892 people who traditionally own 3,500 ha of montane rainforest in the Jimi District, Jiwaka Province. This great achievement is the result of four years of advocacy by the Community-Based Organisation Kuakam Landowners Foundation. A legally binding contract, the conservation deed aims at regulating the use of wildlife and natural resources the clans' livelihoods depend on. With the signing, the largest community-conserved area of the Bismarck Forest Corridor, protecting highly biodiverse, high integrity forests, has been inaugurated.
The clan leaders and government official witnesses have signed the legally binding contract regulating the use of natural resources over the community conservation area
The ceremony was a magnificent, cultural event witnessed by over 1,500 people. Everyone present, including international donors, government, partner organizations, the media, general visitors, and most importantly the communities leading the effort felt inspired by this milestone achievement.
Women dressed using fresh leaves and traditional bilas (made of fur and feathers) singing and performing traditional dances making the ceremony an outstanding, colourful, and joyful event.
Conservation deeds are still rare in PNG but the communities from Kwiop are a great model for the country and are paving the way to grassroots sustainable management of lands at a country-level scale.
Sing-sing demonstration at the Kwiop conservation deed signing ceremony
WCS, its partners (Care International, Real Impact, Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, The Nature Conservancy, CEPA), and donors are proud to be supporting community efforts to protect wildlife and wild places in PNG and will continue supporting them to further build their capacities to enforce customary resource management as well as spreading their message.
Now, as Kwiop celebrates its achievement, WCS will concentrate on providing the management tools that will help the community along the path to self-determination and sustainable economic growth.
WCS PNG acknowledges and thank the donors that supported the community conservation efforts along the Bismark Forest Corridor:
Photos © Alex Fanaso/WCS