Host Country Recognized in Three-Nation Efforts to Preserve
5 June, BALI, Indonesia Indonesia, together with
Australia and Papua New Guinea, today received the World Wide Fund for Nature's
highest award, the "Earth Certificate of its "Gift to the Earth," programme,
for efforts to protect important and threatened wetland areas in the three
The three nations signed a new memorandum of understanding
yesterday to continue and intensify their joint programme, the "Tri-National
Wetlands Initiative," which is working to preserve over three million hectares
of wetlands through the joint projects, shared skills and the exchange of
At an awards lunch today, Indonesian Minister of Forestry, Dr.
Ir. Muhammad Prakosa, hailed the initiative as a collaborative approach to
address the problems faced by the wetlands. The initiative, he said, allowed
all stakeholders, including governments, community groups, non-governmental
organizations, researchers, and universities, to participate in activities
aimed at achieving wetland management. .
The wetlands include Kakadu
National Park in Australia, Wasur National Park in Indonesia, and the Tonda
Wildlife Management Area in adjacent Papua New Guinea.
Speaking at the
awards ceremony today, Australian Minister of Environment and Heritage Dr.
David Kemp announced that the Australian Government will increase its
contribution to the Initiative by a $250,000 over a five year period.
"This is a very appropriate way to observe World Environment Day," Kemp
said. One of the world's great natural phenomena, Kemp said the wetlands were
part of the Australasian Flyway, the route taken by millions of birds on their
semi-annual migration. But the wetlands, he said, were threatened by intrusive
weeds, fire, and feral animals.
"We have a great deal to learn from
each other," Kemp said, adding that the WWF award was important in building
support for these types of projects in Australia and in other
"Papua New Guinea recognizes that this is the beginning of a
new challenge and not the end," according to Dr. Wari Iamo, Secretary of the
Department of Environment and Conservation for Papua New Guinea, and added that
it was significant that the award was presented during the PrepCom for the
World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The Initiative recognizes the
rights of the local people and communities to serve as custodians of the
wetlands, and utilizes their traditional knowledge and methods as primary tools
to preserve the landscape. Still, new ideas and technique are also put to
All three wetlands suffer from an invasion of water hyacinth, a
weed with a beautiful flower that chokes waterways that people rely on for
transport, and crowds out other native plant species. But Jamie Pittock, WWF
Programme Director, says that a beetle can play a major role in eliminating the
nasty weed, and now local communities are growing the beetle.
According to Pittock, the Earth Certificate is the highest accolade issued
for achievement in the Give to the Earth Programme. "We want to recognize
outstanding achievement and we also seek to mobilize funding for this and other
He said the Tri-National Initiative is a practical example
of a government commitment that leads to a systematic result. In this case, the
Initiative is a direct result of government commitments to the Ramsar
Convention on Wetlands, which provides the framework for national action and
international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and
According to Delmar Blasco, Secretary-General of the
Ramsar Convention Bureau, there are presently 131 Contracting Parties to the
Convention, and 1173 wetland sites, totaling 101 million hectares, have been
designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International
"This is a very significant example of conservation in
action," Blasco said. Calling the Initiative "impressive," he said the
programme was noteworthy for the work that had already been carried out and
would continue into the future.
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Department of Economic and
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24 August 2006