An urgent call to conservation

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Humans are the largest consumers of the natural environment’s sustainable food sources, yet many people are not aware of the impact their actions have on the environment.

Targeted awareness programs and conservation efforts in Kunua district, north Bougainville are part of Junior Novera’s (pictured above, front centre) plan for long-term biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change effects in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Junior is a conservation biologist and received an Allison Sudradjat prize. He is an Australia Awards alumni who studied for a PhD in Conservation Science, Applied Ecology, Pacific Indigenous Knowledge and Environmental Decisions.

Junior during a field study

The Allison Sudradjat prize is awarded to scholars to undertake additional activities related to their course of study and their intended contributions to their country. Junior is using his prize money to support urgent conservation projects in Bougainville.

One of these projects is a native tree nursery, cultivated primarily to restore degraded forests and floodways and to protect native trees. The habitat is used daily for sociocultural, health, spiritual, and economic means by the people of the Kunua Plains and Mt Balbi Key Biodiversity Area (KBA). The native animals are also at risk if their natural habitats are destroyed. They depend on the forests for food, shelter, development, and reproduction. Vice versa the natural habitat depends on animal inhabitation for expansion. The native fauna spread seeds, help plants pollinate and feed on insects that destroy edible plants. Junior’s conservation effort will encourage native flora and fauna to thrive and offer healthy, organic and sustainable food sources for the local people.

By replanting native forests, Junior and his team are also protecting the wildlife and plants from climate change effects such as frequent inland flooding caused by altering weather patterns and habitat protection from extreme weather conditions like cyclones and heat waves.

By replanting native forests, Junior and his team are also protecting the wildlife and plants from climate change effects such as frequent inland flooding caused by altering weather patterns and habitat protection from extreme weather conditions like cyclones and heat waves.

While Junior’s main focus is long term biodiversity conservation, re-planting the rainforest will encourage carbon absorption in forested Bougainville and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on the island. Junior and the local communities in Kunua are working together to establish the Kunua Conservation Network and plan to declare the Kunua Plains and Mt. Balbi KBA as protected areas by the year 2030.

 

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