The Asmat people of South Papua Province in Indonesia have a rich history of cultural practices including wood carving art and unique social systems. This culture is deeply entwined with the environment, from using natural resources like wood for their canoes, art, and building materials to depending on fish and forest game for sustenance. As the community relies heavily on the environment, climate change and environmental degradation threaten the Asmat people’s future, and solutions are urgently needed.
Economic valuation of ecosystem services can be a useful tool to recognize, demonstrate, and safeguard the rights of the Asmat indigenous community to autonomy over the natural resources they have been depending on for centuries. Through CSF’s inclusive and participatory approach, this economic valuation project not only educates the community about the economic significance of their natural resources but also can play a role in guiding policies and development that are in line with their local wisdom and aspirations. Respecting and understanding the context and the complexity of the economic and cultural values of the Asmat community is a crucial foundation for conducting meaningful and effective economic development.
Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) Indonesia together with WWF Indonesia, Musamus University, Asmat Indigenous People Association (LMAA), and Alfons Suada Foundation (YASA) is working together to estimate the values of the Asmat Indigenous community’s utilization of natural resources so that their contributions can be acknowledged and integrated with the regional government economic policy development. The economic valuation is being conducted in four villages in Asmat Regency: Sona, Er, Agani, and Magumu Satu, and includes members of the community in the data collection and analysis stages.
CSF Indonesia held an economic valuation training for lecturers from the Faculty of Agriculture and Faculty of Economics and Business, Musamus University, the WWF-Indonesia Papua regional team, YASA’s team, and representatives of the Asmat indigenous community. This training aimed to increase the capacity of participants to carry out studies related to natural resources economic valuation, in which if a similar study needs to be carried out in other locations in Papua, then participants can replicate this approach. Second, CSF will lead, conduct, and assist training participants in economic valuation studies in the four villages.
Photo: Asmat community, South Papua Province
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com