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
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 staff.
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 countries.
"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 use.
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 their resources.
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 Importance.
"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