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S epik W etlands M anagement I nitiative COMMUNITY-DRIVEN BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION & RURAL DEVELOPMENT in the Sepik River region Papua New Guinea Presented by: Benny Gowep © SWMI P. O. Box 81, Ambunti, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea ph : 675 8585 132 email : <[email protected] pg>.

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SepikWetlands ManagementInitiative

COMMUNITY-DRIVEN

BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION

&

RURAL DEVELOPMENT

in the Sepik River region

Papua New Guinea

Presented by: Benny Gowep

© SWMIP. O. Box 81, Ambunti, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea ph: 675 8585 132 email: <[email protected]>


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Background of SWMI

  • formed in 1998 as a CBO in Ambunti, PNG.

  • members are local people concerned with sustainable use of Sepik wetlands resources

  • funded by a UNDP-GEF Small Grant 2001- 2003; since then minor funding from the PNG crocodile industry and WWF-PNG


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SWMI’s Goal:

Establish and link

community-led conservation of wetlands

in the Sepik River region

with

Improvements inthe social and economic

welfare of local communities


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SWMI’s Objectives:

  • Develop a community-oriented, self-help approach to conserve wetlands, especially dense floating mats of herbaceous vegetation.

  • Stop degradation of locally important wetland habitats, especially crocodile nesting areas, and restore sites where feasible.

  • Use crocodile egg harvests to improve income generating incentives for sustainable utilization of wetland resources, and link earned income to conservation of crocodile nests, breeding crocodiles and biologically distinct nesting habitat (floating mats).

  • Prevent invasive species such as introduced fish (Pacu and Java Carp), Water Hyacinth and Bush Morning Glory from reducing local biodiversity, and threatening the economic benefits gained from sustainable use of crocodiles and other wetland resources.


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SWMI’s Main Activities

  • Coordinateannual crocodile egg harvests

  • Monitor habitat and crocodile populations

  • Strengthen conservation awareness

  • Help control introduced & damaging species

  • Assist community development activities


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SWMI’s Achievements

  • Efficient crocodile egg harvests conducted mainly by local landowners/communities.

  • ‘Spot checks’ conducted of unharvested nests; night counts of crocodiles and nest counts.

  • Upriver spread of water hyacinth stopped.

  • Conservation of wetlands biodiversity established in many upper and middle Sepik village domains.


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Middle Sepik: ‘Very High Priority’ biodiversity value

1.5 million ha

Population: 50,000people





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How Commercial Egg Harvest links toConservation of Crocodilesand Wetlands Biodiversity



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18,000

16,000

INFERTILE / DEAD EGGS

14,000

VIABLE EGGS

3515

4439

12,000

2444

2495

2540

10,000

NUMBER OF EGGS

1691

START OF CANOE HARVESTS

BY MHL AND SWMI

8,000

13491

6,000

11790

10946

10261

9787

AERIAL HARVESTS BY DEC

4,000

916

7817

577

410

181

392

289

2,000

3465

131

202

134

146

2145

1324

1591

1545

1656

1198

859

661

647

0

1985

1987

1989

1991

1993

1995

1997

1999

2001

2003

2005

2007

YEAR

Crocodylus porosus egg harvests in the middle & upper Sepik, 1985-2008


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200

180

N = 12 sites

160

N = 29

p=0.0001

140

120

Number of nests

100

80

60

p=0.000007

40

20

0

1981

1983

1985

1987

1989

1991

1993

1995

1997

1999

2001

2003

2005

2007

2009

Year

C. porosus nesting trend 1982-2008


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200

180

N=28 SECURE sites

160

N=13 DISPUTED

p= 0.000016

140

120

Number of nests

100

80

p= 0.43

60

40

20

0

1988

1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

Year

C. porosus nesting trend by landownership


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200

180

N=21 sites

N=33

160

p= 0.14

140

Number of nests

120

100

p= 0.32

80

60

1980

1982

1984

1986

1988

1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

Year

C. novaeguineae nesting trend 1981-2008


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200

180

N=24 SECURE sites

160

N=9 DISPUTED sites

P= 0.025

140

120

Number of nests

100

80

60

P= 0.01

40

20

0

1985

1987

1989

1991

1993

1995

1997

1999

2001

2003

2005

2007

2009

Year

C. novaeguineae nesting trend by landownership


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Introduced Species of Fish are destroying

large areas of floating mats: Primary sites

of Saltwater Crocodile Nesting Habitat


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Pacu Piaractus brachypomum


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Java carp Puntius gonionotus






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Impact of burning on nesting habitatat 41 survey sites by 1998:

  • >50% reduction at 11out of21 sites

  • >80% reduction at 5 out of 13 sites


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Challenges facing SWMI

  • Lack of substantial funding since 2003

  • (lack of basic equipment, lack of fuel for regular travel to villages and key wetlands).

  • No solution in sight for introduced fish which are increasingly destroying floating mats that saltwater crocodiles depend on for nesting.

  • Resolving land ownership disputes at some key wetlands sites in the middle Sepik.


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Acknowledgements

  • Participating local people

  • Mainland Holdings Ltd.

  • PNG Department of Environment & Conservation

  • UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme

  • Worldwide Fund for Nature –PNG Programme



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