Above: A village elder (foreground) is assisted by Mr. Poin Caspar (Chairman of Bismarck Ramu Group) during the signing of the Derin Conservation Deed.
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 yesterday that will see the creation of a 2500 ha Conservation Area. The community gathered at Warakalap hamlet, to witness the signing ceremony. Villagers have created this Conservation area in response to the threats to their environment posed by nearby Forestry activity by JANT Ltd.
JANT is a wood chip company that has been operating in the Trans-Gogol area since the early 1970s. In 1975, the tropical rainforests of the Derin people was clear felled by JANT under a Timber Agreement (TA) with the Government of Papua New Guinea.
Many villagers feel betrayed by the State. They said that 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 that by giving legal protection to certain areas, the community hopes to conserve land and resources for the future generations.
The path to Conservation was set in by the bitter experience of losing their entire native forests. The people of Derin therefore 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 consultative meetings and identification of landowners and demarcation of land boundaries, the area was surveyed and the Deed formalized.
Chairman of the Bismarck Ramu Group, Mr. Poin Caspar challenged the villagers to adhere to the rules of the Conservation Deed. He said that the real work has just begun and that the success of Conservation activities will depend entirely on the goodwill of the community. These sentiments were also expressed by Trans-Gogol LLG President, Mr. Morris Bann who was present to sign the Deed on behalf of the local government.