Tribes aim to preserve Collingwood Bay

Nine tribes from the controversial Collingwood Bay have resolved to put up the 650 thousand hectares of land as a conservation or protected area.

The communities are working with local conservation organisation, Partners with Melanesians, to have these lands protected by 2022.

Collingwood Bay since 1998 has gone through court battles for illegal logging activities.

The communities are now standing together to rid this practise by voluntarily putting up their land to be declared as a conservation or protected area.

The 9 tribes and conservation partner have less than 5 years of ground work to complete before the area can be declared as a conservation site by 2022.

“We’d like to encourage our people to develop their resources sustainably so that it is preserved for future generations,” said George Buare, Collingwood Bay representative in Port Moresby.

Awareness sessions have already commenced on ground and the next big step is to establish the Collingwood Conservation Foundation, the office that will be responsible to carry out the various conversation initiatives.

“The programs that we will run in Collingwood Bay as well as in other areas are; Biodiversity conservation & community mapping, community empowerment & decision making process, education & awareness, community reforestation & climate change, sustainable livelihood alternatives, gender empowerment, appropriate technology and building local knowledge & capacity,” program manager Rufus Mahuru outlined.

Once declared as a protected area, their forests will be safe from exploitation.

The community leaders stressed that they are not opposing development, however they want to have more control over their customary land and develop it sustainably.

Carolyn Ure