In Papua New Guinea, Indigenous communities own the lands and control the waters that they have managed for countless generations. As a result, much of the Conservancy’s work in the country involves empowering local people to design sustainable futures for the lands and waters that surround them.
From helping grow Fair Trade cocoa crops to drawing up networks of marine protected areas in the Coral Triangle, the Conservancy is working with the people of Papua New Guinea to build a greener country.
As in most developing nations, Papua New Guinea lacks adequate conservation funding to protect its invaluable natural resources. To address this problem, The Nature Conservancy helped establish the Papua New Guinea Mama Graun (Mother Earth) Conservation Trust Fund — the first of its kind in Papua New Guinea — designed to provide long-term, uninterrupted funding for biodiversity conservation work.
The Mama Graun Conservation Trust Fund was developed specifically to work within the Melanesian context. The trust fund’s board of trustees will use donations and the net revenue from the investment of its permanent endowment to provide sustained funding for land owners and communities in Papua New Guinea who live in selected existing protected areas by providing grants and hands-on training to ensure the long term success in management of their conservation areas. Furthermore, the trust fund will help the government, international donors and non-governmental organizations work together to identify and fund conservation projects that could not be undertaken otherwise.
To date, the Mama Graun board of trustees has identified 12 priority protected areas within Papua New Guinea to support. When protected collectively, these areas will form critical biological corridors and together, will preserve large sections of ecosystems. This consolidation of areas will also help to strengthen community ties by focusing efforts on a common project and working towards a common goal.
The trust fund’s ten year fundraising goal is a US$30 million endowment that will generate approximately $1.5 million annually for conservation projects. This money will assist Papua New Guinea in increasing its protected areas coverage from three percent to at least ten percent and will enable the areas to be effectively managed at the community level. Papua New Guinea’s Conservation Trust Fund offers the most promising vehicle to ensure the long-term conservation of the country’s irreplaceable natural resources.