A Rocha and Conservation International, in common with other conservation organisations, can tell numerous success stories. But it's clear that conservationists urgently need to do much more. The world's ecosystems, on which all life depends, are being damaged and destroyed at an unprecedented rate.
New tactics are needed.
Conservationists agree that we must do more than offer facts and statistics. If individuals, businesses and governments are to change their priorities because of the ecological crisis, then decision makers at all levels of society have to change their hearts and minds.
That is why A Rocha and Conservation International decided to work together to inspire and resource communities in Papua New Guinea.
WHY PAPUA NEW GUINEA?
Papua New Guinea is located within one of the world’s healthiest and most biologically unique wilderness areas. The island of New Guinea is one of five High Biodiversity Wilderness Areas designated by Conservation International because they contain much of their original vegetation (at least 70%) and provide a home to huge numbers of plants and animals not found anywhere else on earth. Papua New Guinea is famous for its birds of paradise and the very high proportion of extraordinary plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, making it a priority for conservation. The country is also home to a large number of Christians, with over 95% of the population reported to be affiliated to a church, although many people combine Christianity with indigenous religious practices. Since the Church can profoundly shape society, A Rocha is seeking to help Christian communities in high biodiversity areas, to care for creation.
The Papuan church has already caught the vision, moving quickly from The Goroka Declaration on Christians and the Environment in 2003 to the production of a handbook which combines biblical teaching, explanations of the main environmental issues in the islands and practical suggestions for a Christian response.
COMBINING OUR EXPERIENCE
In 2008, A Rocha and Conservation International's Rapid Assessment (RAP) personnel began to assess possible survey sites and to meet with local and national leaders. In 2009, working with staff from the PNG Institute for Biological Research, we began to undertake surveys of the fauna and flora using the well tested method of the RAP programme.