A community driven process
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CTA. 2006. A community driven process. Rural Radio Resource Pack 06/1. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57420
Using three dimensional models to help communities in Papua New Guinea to map forest resources and traditional land rights.
A community driven process Cue: The Pacific island of Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources, and also enjoys a very rich cultural heritage. Over 85 per cent of the population live in rural areas, and for generations people have co-existed with their environment. ?Melanesians? is a not-for-profit Conservation and Community Development NGO, which works with marginalised communities in the province of Oro. Due to a volcanic eruption in 1953, the soil in Oro is very fertile, and supports a dense forest. This has served local tribes very well. It is rich in materials used by local communities for every day supplies and resources. But the rich resources of the area have also attracted the attention of the government, of large scale forestry developers, and of gold and nickel mining industries. In response, staff from Melanesians have been working with a community of people called Malagalas, to prevent them and their land from being exploited. The organisation has helped to make the community more aware of their rights, and to protect their environment. One method tried in the past was making maps of the forest areas using satellite technology. However, because of the density of forest canopies, it was difficult for the communities to obtain map readings. So how can the people who live in these forest areas defend their land and tribal heritage? Ken Mondaii, the Director of Melanesians, spoke to Susanna Thorp. IN: ?Papua New Guinea is unique ? OUT: ?. all this way along.? DUR?N 5?01? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Ken Mondaii, Director of Melanesians, an organisation helping communities in Papua New Guinea to map their forest land using three dimensional models. Transcript Mondaii Papua New Guinea is unique in one sense because the constitution of this country says that the land belongs to the people and the total land of Papua New Guinea is about 46 million hectares and 97% of that is customary land and the constitution already very clearly states in terms of the ownership of the land, the land still belongs to the people. When we?re talking about oil palm development and all the other developments, there is a process in which the government will have to firstly obtain the approval and consent of the people in order for these developments to take place. With current situation now, there?s a lot of planning that is taking place away from the people, and so the people are not fully informed of what sort of development is going to take place, and we have occasions in other parts of the country where the Forestry Officials appear in the village and say ?We want your signatures because your area going to be developed with the forestry and logging operations?. And from this experience we are very very scared and we want to ensure that we don?t want mining officials to appear in the village, we don?t forestry officials to appear in the village, we don?t want oil palm planters to appear in the village to just collect the signatures of the people. That is why the people have been mobilised and the people are fully aware of their rights, there is no way these development projects are going to come in and just bulldoze the people?s rights away and take over their land. Thorp Now the community decided to take very positive action a few years ago now, just tell me what they decided to do and why they decided to do it? Mondaii A lot of the current maps that the government has produced does not recognise the traditional land ownership boundaries, what they have done is they have placed administrative district boundaries which goes beyond tribal land boundaries. So the idea of the mapping came about in 1998 that the area has been proposed by the government for logging and oil palm expansion. The people became fully aware of all these plans that were taking place without their knowledge, without their approval, as a result of that, the people through consensus decided to go into mapping. Everybody in the community respects that decision, and so that has been the major driving force in which the community decided to go into the process of having the area mapped. The area that has been mapped is off-limits for oil palm development, for mining and for forestry development. Thorp This all sounds very positive, but I know that this process has taken a number of years and that you?ve had to go through some struggles really to get that mapping process done as the community wanted. Mondaii The idea of mapping was not very easy. The terrain is very, very rough, the forest is primary forest, very, very huge canopies, and in order for the mapping team to collect the GPS points, it?s very difficult because we have very high canopy of forest which the GPS machine cannot read the satellite location points. We did not have the capacity to generate map points using the information that was collected on the ground. This is a tribal society, and people from a different clan, a different tribe cannot go into any other tribal land because they are scared of tribal problems and conflicts. And so faced with a lot of these problems, it took us four years to realise that technology was not possible for us. Thorp So although the idea was a good one to map the area, the technology in this case wasn?t appropriate to their needs. So what is the option that you?ve now come up with that you think might provide a solution? Mondaii The community told us ?Well look around, look around for what is available, what is appropriate to our requirements.? And so finally I got up with this idea of doing a three dimensional model in a participatory way, involving the communities and all the other stakeholders, I realised that this was the way in which we could overcome all the other problems that we faced in trying to map our area in Malagalas. I went to the community, informing them about this new approach, getting their input and feedback. Some of the comments initially were not happy with this process, they said ?that?s a process that is foreign?, finally they are agreed that, ok, if there is no other way then that?s the only way that we will be fully involved in trying to generate a model that is going to be used to extract information to create a map. Thorp Just looking back at all the processes that you?ve gone through what are the key messages that you would give to other communities or other projects that are working with communities when they try and undertake something like this? Mondaii Firstly you have to get to understand the issues and it has to be the priority of the communities, if it is a choice that is made from outside, in the end the project will not work. The whole project and the whole agenda is driven from the community, by the community using their traditional system of making decisions. We were only facilitating the process all this way along. End of track.