Want to contribute to the preservation of the incredible riches of Raja Ampat’s Bird’s Head Seascape?
Here are a few easy ways to lend a hand:
- Support local communities by always purchasing a Marine Park Entry Permit, supporting locally owned eco-tourism ventures and doing your best to minimise your personal impact.
- Use the Raja Ampat Environment Watch app to report any environmental concerns to the appropriate local authorities.
- Donate to established conservation and education programs working with the people of Raja Ampat to provide economic opportunities that won’t result in environmental damage.
Support local communities
The people of Raja Ampat are acutely aware of the value of their environment and the need to preserve it to support their way of life. Villages in the islands have always had a traditional system of resource preservation in place, but destructive practices like blast and cyanide fishing, shark finning and targeted hunting of endangered species can wreak havoc despite the restrictions of the sasi provisions of customary law. (For more about sasi, see this description of sasi in Maluku. It’s virtually identical to that of Raja Ampat)
Local communities have embraced the “no take” zones developed in conjunction with the declaration of the Raja Ampat Marine Park and are keen to secure an economic future based on eco-tourism rather than the unsustainable exploitation of their environment.
Staying in Papuan owned accommodation and employing local village guides and transport services will ensure the continued commitment of local communities to these ideals. Yes, Raja Ampat is expensive by Indonesian standards, but it’s a small price to pay to be a part of securing the preservation of one of the world’s most important wild places.
Setting a good example by minimising your own impact will help enormously too. Saying no to plastic packaging (including bottled water), refusing any suggestion to dispose of rubbish (including cigarette butts) over the side of your boat and taking your non-biodegradable waste home with you is a great start: See this article about the growing trash problem and lack of waste management infrastructure in the islands.
Other ways to help include:
- Never touching or walking on coral.
- Refusing to pay to see captive wildlife, buy wildlife products or disturb marine or terrestrial creatures.
- Using only fully biodegradable bathroom products.
- Sticking to the “take only photographs, leave only footprints” adage.
- Expressing your disapproval of any non-environmentally friendly actions you witness.
Support the work of Child Aid Papua’s Education Center
Yayasan Cahaya Anak Papua (Child Aid Papua Foundation) is a registered public benefit foundation with a proven track record of delivering an education that’s simply unavailable in Raja Ampat’s villages. Poorly resourced schools and a lack of suitably qualified teaching staff mean that many village schools are not much more than childcare centers.
The Child Aid Papua Education Center in Sawinggrai on Pulau Gam delivers a range of programs. In addition to teaching subjects like English, mathematics and geography, the Center delivers weekly workshops and special projects addressing environmental and conservation issues. The Center’s Ocean Warrior program focuses on raising awareness of and helping to address Raja Ampat’s growing trash problem.
Learn more about the Education Center and how you can help continue their invaluable work.
Support the One Reef at a Time project
Norm Van’t Hoff works with local communities to help them protect their reefs from fishing and the damage done by anchoring. The One Reef at a Time project provides marker buoys so local communities and homestay owners can delineate the reefs over which they have have used traditional sasi declarations to ban any kind of fishing or boat anchoring.
It’s worth noting too, that it was Norm’s work on the One Reef at a Time project that brought to light the potentially extremely serious Crown of Thorns starfish problem that Raja Ampat’s large conservation NGOs and government authorities were unaware of. Working to eliminate the outbreaks already discovered has added a whole new dimension and need for resources to the One Reef at a Time project.
So how can you help?
All the organisation, shipping of and labour to install the buoys is provided by Norm and the local community, but One Reef at a Time is dependent on individual donors for the funds needed to manufacture the buoys, and for the purchase of the materials needed to install and secure them.
Connect with Norm on facebook if you’re keen to support an effective, sustainable, local community initiative to protect Raja Ampat’s inshore reefs.