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Paying it forward in Papua New Guinea

After attending Conservation Strategy Fund's Economic Tools for Conservation course in 2009, Theresa Kas visited the small village of Sohoneliu in her home country of Papa New Guinea. Once she arrived, she realized much of the forest had been depleted to the extent wild animals were no longer hunted and the river was full of sediment and pollution from the local quarry. Theresa took the initiative and began meeting with the local community where many had converted precious forests into farmland. Using the skills she had acquired from the training course at CSF, she conducted a Cost Benefit Analysis to evaluate the true cost of these unsustainable practices. They soon realized that the true economic cost was far greater than the benefit of the harvest and quarry development. In addition, the villagers realized that prior to the degradation of the forest, their quality of life and diversity of diet were much healthier. As a result, the costs of health care as well as various illnesses related to their current diet had increased.

In response, they have made a decision to allocate all of the community forest and land they own into proper land use and management plans. Today, the people of Sohoneliu community are developing management plans for about 10,000 hectares of forest. Their lessons and experiences have now influenced villages beyond their own. Inland communities of Papua New Guinea have now allocated an estimated 100,000 hectares of traditional land and forest into a proper land use and management plan. Theresa concludes, “They now realize that a healthy environment will lead to healthy people.”