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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Conservation leader from Papua New Guinea wins 2016 Whitley Award

Conservation leader from Papua New Guinea wins 2016 Whitley Award Photo : supplied thorugh picasa
London, UK: 27 April 2016 – HRH The Princess Royal will today present a Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize worth £35,000 in project funding, to Karau Kuna at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society, London, in honour of his work that is bringing together local landowners to ensure protection of the YUS Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea, which is home to a plethora of endangered species including tree kangaroos and birds-of-paradise.

Situated on the Huon Peninsula and named after the three main rivers in the area, the Yopno, Uruwa and Som, the 1,500km2 YUS conservation area harbours more endemic birds and mammals than any other like-sized area in mainland New Guinea.  It is one of only three major Tropical Wilderness areas worldwide.  It is so remote that it can only be reached by foot or boat and extends from spectacular mountain ridges to dazzling coral reefs.

For over a decade Karau and the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Programme have been working with villagers who own this land. Together they have developed resource use plans that are now recognised in national policy. With his Whitley Award Karau will create community plans to manage and carry out conservation actions in the YUS landscape to 2020. Pressure from logging and mining companies is threatening the traditional culture of indigenous people and the project is working to help them to conserve their rich natural heritage for future generations and act as a beacon for other communities to emulate.

Edward Whitley, Founder of the Whitley Fund for Nature, said: “WFN focuses on conservation success stories and the progress that’s being made. The Awards Ceremony is about recognising and celebrating that – winning those small battles which cumulatively add up to significant change at the national level. In addition to the financial benefit of winning an Award, our winners receive professional communications training to turn scientists into ambassadors, so they’re able to communicate what they’re doing to the public and to policy makers.”

Karau is one of seven individuals to have been awarded a share of prize money worth £245,000, winning the Whitley Award donated by The William Brake Charitable Trust in memory of William Brake.  Other winners in the 2016 Whitley Awards are:

Gilbert Baase Adum – Ghana
Saving Ghana’s frogs: a giant leap forward for biodiversity conservation
The Whitley Award donated by Sarah Chenevix-Trench

Farwiza Farhan – Indonesia
Citizen lawsuits: defending local livelihoods and Sumatra’s iconic species in the Leuser Ecosystem
The Whitley Award for Conservation in Ape Habitats donated by the Arcus Foundation

Makala Jasper – Tanzania
Forest stewardship: community conservation of coastal forests in the greater Selous Ecosystem, Tanzania
The Whitley Award donated by WWF-UK

Muhammad Ali Nawaz – Pakistan
Snow leopard conservation: a landscape-level approach in the mountains of northern Pakistan
The Whitley Award donated by The Shears Foundation in memory of Trevor Shears

Alexander Rukhaia – Georgia
Magnificent migrants: safeguarding birds-of-prey negotiating the Batumi Flyway, Georgia
The Whitley Award donated by the Garfield Weston Foundation

Juliette Velosoa – Madagascar
Saving the Critically Endangered side-necked turtle and its freshwater habitat, Madagascar
The Whitley Award donated by the Garden House School Parents’ Association

Sir David Attenborough, a Trustee of the Whitley Fund for Nature, added:
“Empowering local people, who understand what the problems are, and who have the local knowledge, determination and vested interest to find the solutions is the very best way to ensure long term protection for the natural world.”

HRH The Princess Royal will also present the 2016 Whitley Gold Award - a prestigious profile and funding prize awarded to a previous Whitley Award winner in recognition of their outstanding contribution to conservation. The Whitley Gold Award is donated by The Friends and Scottish Friends of the Whitley Fund for Nature and is worth £50,000.

This year’s recipient is 2011 Whitley Award winner, Hotlin Ompusunggu for her project – ‘Dentistry and reforestation: scaling up models to protect orangutans and improve health, Borneo’. Unusually for a conservationist, Hotlin is a dental surgeon. Her NGO, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) is providing healthcare incentives for local people to reduce the need to exploit rainforest habitat in Indonesia.

Since Hotlin won a Whitley Award in 2011, the project has seen a significant decrease in illegal logging whilst improving the health of 24,000 people living around Gunung Palung National Park - home to 10% of the world’s orangutans. Hotlin’s Gold Award will enable her to work with Park authorities to manage this important habitat, as well as establish Indonesia’s first ‘conservation hospital’ and explore expansion of the model to other potential sites across the country. Joining the Judging Panel to assist in winner selection, the Gold Award winner also acts as mentor to the new Whitley Award winners.

Visit www.whitleyaward.org to find out more.

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 8:19 PM. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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