Featured News JCU to help Indonesia protect vast wilderness

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Fri, 24 Feb 2017

JCU to help Indonesia protect vast wilderness

Bill Laurance and traditional landowners in West Papua Province.
Bill Laurance and traditional landowners in West Papua Province.

James Cook University has announced a new partnership that will assist Indonesia to protect hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of its native forests, coasts and wetlands.

The Papuan Province of Indonesia has announced a commitment to preserve most of its land in an undisturbed state.

The province, which is the size of Norway, contains some of the most biologically rich forests and coral reefs on Earth. The provincial government committed publicly this week to protect at least 83 percent of the province as undisturbed natural habitat.

James Cook University has announced a formal partnership with Project Papua and Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia to provide technical and training support to the provincial government.

“This is coming at a critical time,” said JCU Professor Bill Laurance. “The Papua Government is truly visionary and needs research and technical support to turn its ambitious goals into reality.”

Project Papua is an initiative of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who has been praised for combating destructive wildfires and declaring a moratorium on new oil palm and mining leases in Indonesia.

The director of Project Papua, Judith Dipodiputro, said that economic and social goals were just as vital for Papua as nature conservation.

“Papua has thousands of remote villages, needs to expand agriculture, and is building a Trans-Papuan Highway that will stretch across the Province,” she said. “Conservation and sustainable development have to advance hand in hand.”

“Limiting habitat loss and fragmentation is critical for the future of Indonesian biodiversity,” said Dr Noviar Andayani, director of Wildlife Conservation Society-Indonesia. “This partnership is going to be a powerful tool helping Papua to make the right decisions.”

“Frankly, nobody thinks this will be easy,” said Professor Laurance. “But I’ve been working in conservation for 35 years and I’ve never seen so much good will and commitment.”

“This is a remarkable milestone for conservation - one that should echo around the world,” he said.

Link to images: http://bit.ly/2lKTYWp

(Publicly available and not copyrighted; all photos by Mohammed Alamgir)

Papua1: Papua’s Assistant Governor, Elia Loupatty, presents the plan for its ambitious conservation commitment to JCU Professor Bill Laurance in Jayapura this week (21 February 2017).

Papua2: JCU Professor Bill Laurance discusses conservation research with Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry, Dr Siti Nurbaya, and her staff in Jakarta (16 February 2017).

Papua3: JCU Professor Bill Laurance meets traditional landowners in West Papua Province, Indonesia (20 February 2017).


Distinguished Professor Bill Laurance

Director, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science

College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Email: bill.laurance@jcu.edu.au (monitored continuously); Phone +61-7-4038-1518