by Rachel Shisei – EM TV News, Madang
The Wanang Conservation, in the Sogeram District of Madang Province, located in an area surrounded by heavy logging activities, has been recognised and awarded the United Nation’s Equator Prize.
Through the Binatang Research Centre, in collaboration with the people, Wanang has been highlighted from more than a thousand nominations from 26 different countries, for saving its forest from destruction, and protecting its endangered species.
The Madang Provincial Administrator, Daniel Aloi in response to this news says, Wanang’s recognition is an intervention that shows the government’s concern has been implemented.
“Wanang has very much affirmed what we have been doing at the policy level, it is really the implementation of what’s happening at the policy level. There are some other interventions as well, especially from the NGOs focused on environment,” said Aloi.
The administrator added that this will see Wanang added to the development plans of Madang.
The Binatang Research Centre (BRC) is an NGO that studies the relationships of insects and plants, and in the process, its scientists have found, millions of insects, more than the estimate made by scientists globally, in just 10,000 hectares of the area.
“Scientists globally have made estimated predictions that there are around 60million species of arthropods, but through our researches, in collaboration with scientists from around the world, we have proved them wrong with 6 to 8 million more species,” said Bradley Gewa, a moth specialist with the Binatang Research Centre.
Back in Wanang, Philip Damen, the founder and village leader of the Wanang Conservation area, is getting ready to travel to Paris in France, to collect the prize on behalf of his people.
“I’ve heard of the prize, and I am ready to travel to collect the prize. I will represent my people to collect the prize but whatever the prize is, belongs rightfully to the people of Wanang, and I will deliver it to them upon my return,” said Damen.
Wanang is likely to be the only village left with forest growth, after all the logging is done.
“The logging companies are logging the districts all around us, and with the talk of another road to be constructed around us, our land will be the only one with trees and looking green,” said Jonah Damen, Philip’s son, representing the youth, who supports his father Philip, and all the village elders.
This is the first time Papua New Guinea received the Equator Prize, and that is because of the Wanang people, in collaboration with the Binatang Research Centre in Madang.