Manus Island’s Great Central Forest Under Threat

By Nathan Whitmore | December 10, 2019

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Admiralty cuscus clings to tree branch in logging area. Photo credit: Elodie Van Lierde
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Manus Island logging road under construction. Photo credit: Elodie Van Lierde

“The forest boasts many species found nowhere else, including the Admiralty cuscus, the Superb Pita, and the Manus melomys. Scientists still routinely uncover new forest creatures.”

While villagers understand the value of the forest, they also yearn for basic community and household infrastructure that the forest can’t adequately provide. Amongst their priorities are: schools, community halls, water tanks, footbridges to safely navigate crocodile-infested rivers, sturdy roofing materials, and solar panels to provide household light and charge mobile phones. Because there has been little support from the national or provincial government to support these basic needs, local people feel pressure to cash in on their one tradeable commodity — trees.

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South coast of Manus Island. Photo credit: Elodie Van Lierde
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Conservation planning on Manus Island. Photo credit: Elodie Van Lierde

“Due to concerns that communities sometimes enter into logging agreements without full understanding of their rights, WCS joined with a local organization to guide better environmental decision-making.”

As part of this initiative, WCS is also providing support to local farmers to develop a conservation-compatible livelihood centered on vanilla production. The increased income generated from the vanilla initiative should lessen local demand for additional income and consequently reduce the economic pressure on indigenous landowners to engage with unsustainable logging.

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WCS is providing support to local farmers to develop a conservation-compatible livelihood centered on vanilla production. Photo credit: Elodie Van Lierde

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

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