BY MARTYN NAMORONG
THE KULUMU, Koromala, Galogein, Beu and Boding clans of Derin village in the Trans-Gogol local level government area of Madang Province signed a conservation deed on Friday that will see the creation of a 2,500 ha conservation area.
People gathered at Warakalap hamlet to witness the signing ceremony. Villagers created the conservation area in response to the threats to their environment posed by nearby Forestry activity by JANT Ltd.
JANT is a woodchip company that has been operating in the Trans-Gogol area since the early 1970s. In 1975, the tropical rainforest of the Derin people was clear felled by JANT under a Timber Agreement with the government of Papua New Guinea.
Many villagers feel betrayed by the State and said the ignorance of their fathers was used to acquire the forests leading to an environmental disaster.
“Before JANT came, everything was good. Today the soil and waterways have been destroyed,” Golu Kuyerir, a local villager said.
He also stated that the community fears that the regenerated forests will be targeted by forestry companies. He said by giving legal protection to certain areas, the community hopes to conserve land and resources for the future generations.
The path to conservation was established after the bitter experience of losing their entire native forests. The people of Derin approached local NGO, the Bismarck Ramu Group, to facilitate the process of creating a conservation area.
In 2009, the NGO sent in community facilitators to begin the formal process of setting the conservation zone.
After years of meetings, identification of landowners and demarcation of land boundaries, the area was surveyed and the deed formalised.
Chairman of the Bismarck Ramu Group, Poin Caspar, challenged the villagers to adhere to the rules of the deed.
He said that the real work has just begun and that the success of conservation activities will depend on entirely on the goodwill of the community. The same sentiments were expressed by Trans-Gogol LLG President, Morris Bann who signed the deed on behalf of the local government.
Martyn Namorong was the winner of the 2011 Crocodile Prize for the Best Essay