An indigenous group reforests its corner of coastal New Guinea

first_imgArticle published by mongabayauthor Residents of Yepem on the Indonesian half of New Guinea island are undertaking a reforestation project with the local government.Respect for nature is a fundamental part of the worldview of the local Asmat people.Locals’ biggest problem is a lack of clean water. Located on the Siretsy river delta in Papua’s Asmat district is the picturesque hamlet of Yepem, the 655 residents of this coastal enclave on the shore of the Arafura Sea continue to eat traditional foods and practice cultural arts despite the rest of Asia’s gallop into the 21st century.In Yepem, meals are composed of fish, coconuts, bananas and starchy roots like cassava, taro and sago. Residents harvest shrimp at the nearby Yomot streamlet with nets and fishing poles. The village is dotted with jeuws, or traditional Asmat houses. The structures have high vaulted ceilings held up by poles planted in the earth. Mangi-mangi wood and sago leaves top the roofs. One jeuw is set aside as the town “carving studio.” The place is filled with carvers and weavers. There is even a little child learning from his dad. The leader of this initiative, Paskalis Wakat, explains that the Asmat people have a philosophy that they must be one with god, the ancestral spirits and the forest. Yepem residents young and old have a deep respect for the forest and see the duty of preserving the environment as one with respecting god and their ancestors. Kaspar Mamnak, a member of the Asmat Traditional People’s Foundation (LMAA) says locals are not allowed to debark trees. There is a ban on tree cutting along the banks of the Yomot river.  It is also forbidden to shoot – with arrow, catapult, or airgun – shore birds. “ They, like us, are utilizing nature and the forest,” he explained.Given this nature-bound worldview, it is unsurprising that Yepem residents and the local forestry office have a reforestation program going.A house in Asmat district, made from ironwood. Photo by Agapitus Batbual for MongabayA big signboard on the edge of the thicket of mangroves on the way into town announces the program. Topping the board are the insignia of two government outfits and three conservation groups: Asmat regional government, the national forestry ministry, USAID, WWF and Blue Forressis. Below are instructions to visitors: “No tree chopping. Please let us protect the mangrove and river, as per Spatial Bylaw No. 6, 2012, Article 21 on Protected Areas.”The carving teacher Wakat explains that locals have planted a variety of trees including pit trees, salt trees and mangroves. Deeper in the forest, there was also high-value ironwood. Salt and pit trees have not always existed in the vicinity of Yepem village, according to LMAA’s Mamnak said they arrived in his lifetime. Locals requested saplings of the tree species from two American catholic missionaries, Alfons Sowada and Uskup Agats. Salt and pit trees are renown for preventing soil erosion. Today, the offspring of those original saplings grow abundantly in the area.A carving from Yepem. Photo by Agapitus Batbual for MongabayYosep Ker, the Yepem village head, says that the traditional culture of the Asmat is still strong. They still understand and abide the concept of karuu or sacred ancestral sites. They mark locations that have been deforested with young sago leaves. They do not drink the water in old village sites or ironwood groves. Sacred sites are recognized and ratified by joint treaties. “Those who violate [these agreements] will die sooner or later,” says Ker.Wakat, the carving teacher, says the village plans to develop itself as a tourist destination. Yepem’s idyllic setting could be a showcase of Asmat tradition, he argues. They still have a lot of sago, forest and sealife. In the morning, ladies paddle their boats to sea with poles, nets and buckets to gather baby shrimp. On the land, guavas, rubber, rambutan, durian and papaya grow abundantly. Despite the chalky local soil the color and texture of wood pulp, the village is filled with groves of coconut, bananas, beans, eggplant, leafy greens, sugar cane and even coffee.The biggest problem in Asmat lands is the lack of a regular source of fresh water. Locals collect rainwater with 11-liter tanks. The water source for Agats city (20 miles away) is the Yomot river. A machine at the river’s headwaters sucks water out with a big pipe. “This is a restricted forest,” carving teacher Wakat explained from his speedboat during a recent visit to the intake site. The Asmat see this as a protected forest, filled with huge ironwood trees – so wide that two grown ups linking arms could not wrap their arms around a single tree. The local public works office had built a shed to store the machine. There was also a long-abandoned guardhouse next to the facility, standing on swampland. Furnaces in the house had long stood un-used. Oil from the machine spilled into the surrounding ecosystem – so much for clean water. When asked about the oil leak, the head of public works Melianus Jitmau evaded the question.This piece was first published on Mongabay’s Indonesian sister site on Oct. 30, 2016.Banner image: Paskalis Wakat, a carver from Yepem. Photo by Agapitus Batbual for Mongabay Agriculture, Community Forestry, Community-based Conservation, Conservation, Ecotourism, Environment, Forestry, Forests, Indigenous Cultures, Indigenous Peoples, Protected Areas, Rainforests, Reforestation, Tropical Forests, Water, Water Scarcity center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

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