Together at the 2022 PNG Protected Area Forum, UNDP connected with practitioners on conservation issues in communities - while exploring policy, challenges and moving forward on solutions.
"We are all connected to the land": Voices of Conservation
June 30, 2022
“We are all connected to the land, where we belong to,” says Evengelista Apelis, the Director and Public Officer of Sea Women of Melanesia – an award-winning, all-female marine conservation NGO.
Together at the 2022 PNG Protected Area Forum, conservation practitioners explored the five pillars of Papua New Guinea's Protected Area policy - while networking, sharing knowledge, and learning how data protects our planet .
Led by stakeholders at this year's PNG Protected Area Forum, Ms Apelis says participants "learnt a lot from other’s experiences and challenges on starting an NGO and carrying out projects."
“As a Papua New Guinean, as a Melanesian, we all know that the land is a very important commodity to us. The Sea Women of Melanesia is a newbie in the conservation space. There’s a lot of NGOs doing great work out there, but lack exposure and connection."
“The ones that are well established, I hope they can reach out to community-based organisations and see where we can work together to do our respective projects."
George Aigoma of Eco-Custodian Advocates, who works as a Community Conservation Officer in Milne Bay Province, said communities are comfortable with resource management, rather than conservation, and the forum emphasises the importance of protected area stakeholders to learn from their land - and what they can do.
“If you say conservation then the community might say they won’t be using the area because it’ll be blocked off for conservation,” he explains. “But if you say resource management, the community can be able to access these areas for their livelihood - and food security – and, at the same time will appreciate conservation efforts.”
‘Wanpla Graun Blo Yumi Olgeta’
“The theme of this Protected Areas forum is very appropriate: Wanpla Graun Blo Yumi Olgeta - all the land here in PNG essentially belongs to all of us. It is our collective responsibility to ensure its health and well-being.”
Program director for AsPles Foundation, Ms. Murraylyn Kume focuses on climate change adaptation plans for customary boundaries in Mt Giluwe Tambul area of Western Highlands province.
Working with the Nebilyer people of Tambul-Nebilyer District, Ms Kume explains the tribal conflict scenario: "We work in conflict zones to initiate activities for the communities - such as tree planting, that will bring together tribes and work together.”
“In conflict settings, and vulnerable communities, the government system needs strength, so through initiatives such as tree planting, we were able to develop adaptation plans that are integrated in their district plans. We provide support for the provincial government to develop climate adaptation plans for the community.”
The theme of this Protected Areas forum is very appropriate: Wanpla Graun Blo Yumi Olgeta - all the land here in PNG essentially belongs to all of us. It is our collective responsibility to ensure its health and well-being.Program director for AsPles Foundation, Ms. Murraylyn Kume