Community-based Conservation at Scale

A Marine Protected Area in the Bird's Head Seascape. Copyright Conservation International, photo by Laure Katz.
Publicado: 04 Agosto 2015
Última edición: 30 Septiembre 2020
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The Bird’s Head Seascape (BHS) addresses habitat destruction from overfishing and resource exploitation in West Papua, Indonesia, through a large-scale ecologically-connected and community-driven Marine Protected Area (MPA) network to preserve biodiversity and regenerate local fisheries.


Sudeste Asiático
Scale of implementation
Arrecifes coralinos
Ecosistemas marinos y costeros
Pradera marina
Actores locales
Financiación sostenible
Gobernanza de las áreas protegidas y conservadas
Pesca y acuicultura
Pérdida de ecosistemas
Extracción de recursos físicos
Cambios en el contexto socio-cultural
Falta de capacidad técnica
Falta de conciencia del público y de los responsables de la toma de decisiones
Deficiente vigilancia y aplicación de la ley
Deficiente gobernanza y participación
Aichi targets
Meta 6: Gestión sostenible de los recursos vivos acuáticos
Meta 11: Áreas protegidas y conservadas
Meta 12: Reducir el riesgo de extinción
Meta 18: Conocimiento tradicional


Bird’s Head Seascape, West Papua, Indonesia


Papua is undergoing rapid change. Over the last two decades interest in Papua’s natural resources has led to destructive and overfishing by outside poachers, oil and gas exploration, and nickel mining, all of which were impacting both marine biodiversity (the richest in the world) as well as the food security, livelihoods and traditional values of indigenous Papuan communities.


  • Indigenous Papuan communities
  • Local regency governments
  • Eco-tourists

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The BHS strategy progressed through four distinct phases, each with a unique focus. The first phase focused on the scientific characterization of the seascape (building block 1), and the cultivation of social and political support for conservation (building block 2). This bottom up approach led to the development of the jointly declared MPA network by local communities and government (building block 3) The second phase focuses on the development of an MPA management system with adequate co-management institutions (building blocks 3 and 4) to empower local communities which actively lead planning, management, and program implementation, developing zoning and management systems. To reinforce cultural identity, traditional and modern concepts of no-take zones are combined. The third phase and fourth phases are focused on expanding support through strong legislation and effective governance systems and less dependence on the NGO coalition and donor funding. This includes building local co-management bodies, private sector engagement (building block 5) and developing a sustainable financing strategy (building block 6).


The BHS includes Indonesia's first effectively managed MPA network, its first legally established co-management system, and has the highest MPA management effectiveness scores in the country with an average score of 73%. Threats have been reduced. MPA patrol teams were able to reduce destructive fishing practices to less than 1% of fishers in Raja Ampat MPAs. Illegal overfishing from outside poachers was reduced by over 90%. The government banned both mining and shark and ray fishing, and as a result, Raja Ampat has become a world-class tourism destination with an average annual tourism growth rate of 30%. Ecosystem health and local fisheries have started to recover. In Raja Ampat the average increase in live coral cover across MPAs has been ~12% since MPA establishment. The average increase in fish biomass across MPAs is ~114%. Local fishers are now catching more fish with the same level of effort. Ultimately, the goal is for local Papuan communities to have enhanced food security, livelihoods, cultural heritage and rights. Evidence on the ground shows significant results, with communities catching more fish, revitalizing traditional practices, and finding new livelihood opportunities in the growing tourism sector.


Raja Ampat – which literally means “four kings” consists of four big islands: Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool, and hundreds of smaller ones. It covers an area of 4.5 million hectares and is home to 60,000 people. Raja Ampat is home to 75 percent of all known coral species, 1,470 reef fish, eight types of whales and seven types of dolphins. The mangrove forests boast uniquely soft corals, while its beaches are hatching grounds for green turtle and the endangered hawksbill turtle. Purwanto, Bird’s Head marine protected area technical advisor from TNC, said marine over-exploitation reached Papua while demand for fresh seafood increased worldwide. Luckily, a joint conservation effort had been set up by the local administration, local communities and environmental organizations to protect 4.5 million hectares in the Raja Ampat zone. In 2006 a network of Raja Ampat marine protected areas (MPAs) was established, covering a total of 1 million hectares of coastal area and sea. MPAs have implemented a zonal system that regulates which spots can be used for fishing and which ones are completely closed to all activities but scientific purposes. “Through the zonal system we set aside 20 to 30 percent of critical habitat to be protected and that can guarantee the sustainability of fisheries throughout Raja Ampat,” Purwanto said. The MPA included sasi, the traditional local conservation measure that closes damaged areas until recovery. TNC and CI recruited local people to work with them and training them. Some reach out to villagers to raise awareness and educate children about conservation through fun learning, some take part in marine patrol squads, while others join the underwater monitoring team. Lukas Rumetna, the Bird’s Head portfolio manager of TNC, said that after years of building the skills and commitment of local people, they are ready to continue the conservation efforts on their own. “Most of them have understood their role in managing the MPAs. Some tasks may still need our assistance, but overall they have all been equipped with the know-how,” he said. “And as we’re leaving soon, local people will then work together with the technical control unit from the local administration that will replace our work here.”

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Laure Katz Conservation International

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