Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Talk by Paige West on Crater Mountain Wildlife Management (Pacific Magazine 2008)

The following article by Tereni Kens appeared in Pacific Magazine (13 August 2008) about a recent talk by Paige West of Barnard and Columbia University in Port Moresby about Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area and conservation.

Scientist Says 'Research Hot Spot' Can Benefit Villagers

Most of Papua New Guinea’s protected wildlife management areas are described as a sleeping non-extraction pot of gold “research hot-spot” markets. They have the potential to generate thousands of dollars in income on research work alone for the rural landowners from the rich natural biodiversity as compared to eco-tourism.Eco-tourism is widely promoted by the government but the benefits or the economic gains are far less then what it is expected.

Visiting American anthropologist and research scientist Dr. Paige West highlighted this after giving a public lecture yesterday at the U.S Embassy in Port Moresby concerning a crater mountain in Papua New Guinea’s Eastern Highlands Province.

The public lecture "The fate of Crater Mountain: Conservation, Politics, and Change in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea" touched on the recent history of the Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area (CMWMA) and focused on the lessons learned about conservation in PNG from the 2700 sq km wildlife management area.

The lecture in particular focused on the growth of national science and research that has come from the Crater Mountain project and how CMWMA has helped the indigenous people benefited by earning an income for them.

“At Crater Mountain, ecotourism has not been the kind of success that was hoped for by the project architects. What has been a success, in terms of generating income for the rural landowners, has been the marketing of the area as a ‘research hot-spot.’ By this I mean the discursive production of the CMWMA as a place that is understudied scientifically where scientists can come and conduct research through an already existing infrastructure provided by Wildlife Conservation Society-PNG (WCS-PNG),” West said.

In her research, West discovered that over the course of a recent year, between July 2002 and June 2003, a total of 21 people who identified themselves in the village guestbook as scientist passed through the project architect. They brought money to villages where there was not a market for traditional tourism or even ecotourism.

In the case of the villages whose lands make up the Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area, West noted that over the past 17 years, 512 outsiders have visited the area and brought thousands of dollars to the rural places in terms of payment for access, accommodation and labor.

“These 512 visitors have spent about 29,443 days in the CMWMA and spent over K20 per day, with a total income for CMWMA villages of K475,020 (US$164,094),” she said.

Since its creation, the CMWMA has become one of the most active areas for biological research in the country. There are over 50 peer-reviewed publications based on research in the CMWMA as well as five Ph.D. dissertations, five M.S. theses, and 12 Honours theses.

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