Papua New Guinea is located within the Coral Triangle, a region recognized for its unparalleled coral reef biodiversity. With more than 600 islands and an extensive coastline, the majority of Papua New Guinea’s people live along the coast. Coral reefs and lagoon systems provide coastal villagers with vital protein, income, and protection against storms, and contribute to their cultural identity.
Low human population and geographic isolation have allowed many coral reefs in Papua New Guinea to remain in good health. However, this situation is changing as the country modernizes, fishing pressure increases, and increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide results in climate change and ocean acidification. Additionally, sudden growth in large mining and logging operations has resulted in increased pollution and sedimentation. As a result Papua New Guinea’s coral reefs are increasingly under threat.
WCS PNG has responded by working with provincial governments and local communities in New Ireland Province and Manus Province to help monitor and manage their coral reefs sustainably. Much of this work has focused on key economic resources such as sea cucumbers, lobsters, trochus and giant clams. WCS PNG has also worked extensively with the inhabitants of Andra Island in Manus Province to establish coral farms for the sustainable production of lime used for the chewing of betel nut (Archa catechu). Since 2018, WCS PNG is also working with the government and communities in New Ireland Province to triple the country’s marine protected area coverage.