Forests, including all biodiversity and non-biodiversity, are valuable assets for the Kamoro tribe, including the indigenous people of Nayaro Village. For them the forest is like a “mother” who provides food for her children.
Nayaro is one of the villages included in the administrative area of the Mimika Baru District, Mimika Regency, Papua. This village can be reached in about one and a half to two hours by bus. Nayaro Village is somewhat unique because it is in the contract area of PT. Freeport Indonesia (PTFI).
The Importance of Forests for the Nayaro Community
The area that is traditionally owned by the indigenous people of Nayaro Village extends from the southern coastal region of Papua to the highland region at Mile 50 of PTFI. The area of 190,000 hectares (based on the Participatory Mapping of Traditional Natural Resource Utilization Areas) includes mangrove forests, sago swamp forests, lowland forests to mountain forests. Nayaro community call it Tapare or land for food. That is why this region is so important to them. Forests, sub-villages, and rivers in it are used traditionally by the community for the fulfillment of food and the family economy such as sago, preys, fruits to traditional medicines.
This region is also very important for the Lorentz National Park (TNL) Conservation Area. Although it has not been established by the government, Nayaro Village can be said to be a buffer zone west of the TNL. Maintaining the natural quality of Nayaro Village means good news for the preservation of the TNL. Conversely, the area degradation that occurred in Nayaro Village is a threat to the existence of the largest national park in Southeast Asia.
Samuel Betaubun, a young man from Nayaro Village since 2017 was involved in the LESTARI program in Nayaro Village realized that. “We own this region. We find food, sago farms in villages, hunt wild boar and fishing nets at times. This is important for us to protect. If it’s not us, who else wants to protect? Later, if the forest is damaged, where will our children find the food?” said Sam, who was born in Merauke on May, 1st 1989.
[Photo] Samuel Betaubun explained the community traditional natural resources area and the importance of forests for the Nayaro community at the Nayaro Forest Protection Group Work Plan Preparation Workshop.
Mame Airafua, Nayaro Forest Protection Group
At the beginning of 2018, the village government, traditional elders, and the Nayaro community agreed to form a group that could conduct surveillance for the nature preservation in Nayaro. This group consists of 19 young people who are tasked with conducting routine monitoring and patrols in the Nayaro forest area, with six indigenous elders representing each Taparu in Nayaro acting as the council of supervisors. Sam was later appointed as the group leader. This group was named the Airame Mame Forest Protection Group of Nayaro Village. ‘Mame Airafua’ is taken from the Kamoro language which means “let’s look together,” as well as monitoring and patrolling, looking at the condition of the forest and reporting on the findings.
[Photo] The Nayaro Forest Protection Group is writing the findings on the monitoring sheet and picking up the monitoring location using GPS.
With a simple participatory monitoring method adopted from the Forest Integrity Assessment (FIA) method combined with local community knowledge, the Airafua Mame Group conducts monitoring and patrol activities in areas that are considered important and represent zones that have been contained in map of Traditional Natural Resource Utilization Area Nayaro Village. These areas are within the area of the Sacred Historical Protected Zone, the Fishery / Mangrove Product Utilization Zone, the Sago and Hunting Utilization Zone and the Forest Products Utilization Zone (near the settlement).
Nayaro Forest Resources Sustainability Thread
After several times of monitoring, the group discovered the fact that the forest area which is a sacred place (Historical Sacred Protection Zone) is still maintained well and has a very high level of biodiversity. This is inversely proportional to areas close to community settlements (Forest Product Utilization Zone) where this area is very easily accessed and is not an area that is sacred by the Nayaro people. Based on the results of monitoring, several important animal species such as cassowaries and wild boar have been very difficult to find, both directly seen, sounds, tracks, dirt and nests. It is allegedly because of the high activity of hunting in this region. Realizing this, the group then initiated the formulation of the Nayaro village regulation on Forest Utilization and Protection to regulate the use of natural resources in Nayaro. “If we don’t regulate it, it is dangerous. Indeed we, Kamoro community, live from nature by hunting. But if everything from the big to the small ones, the young ones are also taken, after a long time they can run out too,” explained Sam.
The group’s proposal to formulate village regulations was welcomed by the village government and Nayaro traditional leaders. “This is a good thing. We as the traditional elders are very supportive of the village regulations,” said Paulinus Mapuaripi, Chairperson of Bamuskam and Traditional Council of Nayaro Village.
Starting from Ourselves
[Photo] Rufus Tumuka, a member of the Nayaro Forest Protection Group, found traces of the KKMB found during monitoring.
Until now group members continue to carry out the socialization and awareness raising of the conservation importance to the community. Moreover, now the spawn season of Pig Snout Turtles / KKMB (Carettochelys insculpta) is already in season. At times like this, people usually take eggs and KKMB mother as an additional source for the community protein. The group realizes that taking eggs and KKMB broodstock is not limited, it is not impossible, in the future KKMB will become extinct. Although it is not easy, the presence of the group has now been heard by the community. “We are slowly trying to make the community aware. We start with ourselves and our family members. Yesterday Kris Mepere’s father, one of the members of the group netted fish in Kali Kopi, and after being lifted it turned out that there was a KKMB caught in his fishing net. Without long thinking, Kris asked that the KKMB be released, finally he set it free, “said Sam.
Through a persuasive approach, group members continue to spread the spirit of conservation to the community, especially school-age children. The result is that people are now gradually understanding and caring for the environment. “In the past, those small children when they walked, they all held a slingshot. They shot birds using slingshots. But now because they know that we are a forest protection group, finally they think again if they want to slap a bird, “Sam said.
It is indeed not easy to carry out conservation advocacy efforts to the community, especially because the community uses natural resources to meet their daily needs. It needs the support of all parties starting from the Customary Elders, the Village Government, the District Government, the Forest Service Branch, BBKSDA, and PTFI as those who have been granted a permit to manage the area by the government. Through the Forest Protection group, natural resources need to be ensured in a wise management based on the values of the local wisdom of the community.