Tag Archives: REDD

Mpur Peoples and development: a film by Mnukwar


with support from DownToEarth

This new film explores the views of the Mpur community, West Papua, on development plans for their region which will affect their land, livelihoods and culture.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/32076025]

Mpur Peoples and Development from Down to Earth on Vimeo.

About Mnukwar: bringing about change through film-making

Armed with medium-size video cameras and other film-making paraphernalia when they are out and about making films in different areas of West Papua, the Mnukwar crew often attracts local people’s attention. Knowing their background in environmental activism, some people think they are just showing-off with expensive gadgets and their interest will wane once the novelty wears off.

Set up in 2007 by several environmental and social justice activists, Mnukwar (a type of the Bird of Paradise as well as the name of the old capital of Manokwari) focuses on facilitating change through making film. Mnukwar staff are not too bothered by such cynical comments because the target for Mnukwar is not the film itself.

Being grassroots activists, the Mnukwar crew are very much aware of the urgent need for local people to be able to express themselves freely and without fear of intimidation. For many years, Papuans have been living under the threat of being stigmatized as rebels, making communications  with communities difficult. Communication, as the communities know from previous experience, can sometimes mean interrogation.

Mnukwar uses a variety of methods to build a rapport with a community, including showing other films to villagers as a way of introducing what can be done in film. More often than not, once a rapport is built, curiosity about the gadgets and the process of film-making itself overcome people’s anxiety about talking. Then people start to engage.

Working with people is never easy. On a number of occasions, villagers have turned NGOs away from carrying out any activity in their place because, based on past experience, ‘NGOs do not keep their word’, ‘NGOs are good at taking data but never share it with the villagers, let alone giving anything back or being accountable for what they do’, ‘ NGOs who come to villages with short-term or one-off projects with no future perspectives only make villagers confused’.

Mnukwar has learned a great deal from others’ experiences. At the beginning of any programme, Mnukwar always tries to make it clear that they are not organisation which provides grants or income generation projects, but a group of people who are attempting to facilitate learning about peoples’ rights and citizenship through film-making. During the film-making, the Mnukwar crew works closely with the people involved, to avoid the situation where the people are only the object of the film. Knowledge is reproduced in film format and the people are consulted. Film is also a powerful form of communication and an important means of learning in a society where interest in reading is very low.

Films about Climate Change

Through various work and activities on the issue of climate change, the Mnukwar crew has learned that climate change is not a phenomenon that is easy to capture on film. When asked straight questions such as “what is climate change or what signs of climate change have you observed?”, people are puzzled. Climate change is simply a foreign idea.  The observations about climate people can share are about the inconsistency of the seasons and the impact of this on their livelihoods.

What about ‘global warming’ and ‘climate justice’? For many communities, these are just sound bites with little meaning.

There is a long way to go before we will be able to see people in Papua linking global phenomena to their day-to-day living. And yet, it is never too late to learn and one can start using whatever tools are to hand. This is the principle of Mnukwar in making-film too: there is no need to wait until you have the proper equipment, which is often expensive, to make a film. The Mnukwar crew have been teaching people how to use any media able to record moving images, such as a simple mobile phone, to create a film. Empowering people does not need to be expensive.

Website: www.mnukwar.or.id

Pictures: Turquoise ‘dragon’ among 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea

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Pictures: Turquoise ‘dragon’ among 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea
mongabay.com
June 27, 2011

Varanus macraei © Lutz Obelgonner
Varanus macraei monitor lizard © Lutz Obelgonner

Scientists discovered more than 1,000 previously unknown species during a decade of research in New Guinea (slideshow), says a new report from WWF.

Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998 – 2008) (PDF-4.7MB) is a tally of 10 years’ worth of discoveries by scientists working on the world’s second largest island.

While the majority of 1,060 species listed are plants and insects, the inventory includes 134 amphibians, 71 fish, 43 reptiles, 12 mammals, and 2 birds.

Among the most notable finds: a woolly giant rat, an endemic subspecies of the silky cuscus, a snub-fin dolphin, a turquoise and black ‘dragon’ or monitor lizard, and an 8-foot (2.5-m) river shark.

Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998 – 2008)
Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998 – 2008)
Spilocuscus wilsoni © Tim Flannery

Spilocuscus wilsoni cuscus, a type of marsupial © Tim Flannery
Litoria sauroni © Stephen Richards
Litoria sauroni tree frog © Stephen Richards
Chrysiptera cymatilis © Gerald R Allen

Chrysiptera cymatilis damselfish © Gerald R Allen

WWF released the report to showcase New Guinea’s biodiversity, which includes more than 800 species of birds and more than 25,000 species of vascular plants in New Guinea ranges. New Guinea’s rainforests — the third largest after the Amazon and the Congo — and its coral reefs are astoundingly rich, yet still poorly studied relative to other places in the tropics. The dearth of information is a concern because New Guinea, which covers less than 0.5 percent of the Earth’s landmass, but is thought to be home to 6–8 percent of the world’s species, is facing an onslaught of threats from logging, large-scale industrial agriculture, and mining.

“This report shows that New Guinea’s forests and rivers are among the richest and most biodiverse in the world,” said Neil Stronach, WWF Western Melanesia’s Program Representative, in a statement. “But it also shows us that unchecked human demand can push even the wealthiest environments to bankruptcy.”

Varanus macraei © Lutz Obelgonner
Click map to enlarge.

Ecosystems, especially forests, are threatened on both halves of New Guinea. On the western half — controlled by Indonesia — illegal logging is rampant and the government has granted, or is planning to grant, hundreds of thousands of hectares’ worth of forests for conversion to timber and oil palm plantations and large-scale rice and sugarcane operations. On the eastern part of the island, the Papua New Guinea government recently stripped communities of traditional land rights in favor of big business, especially foreign agricultural firms, which have been winning Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) to develop forest lands (a moratorium on SABLs was put in place last month). Meanwhile industrial logging has degraded large tracts of rainforest. Both sides of New Guinea have been affected by mining operations, which at times have caused pollution and exacerbated social conflict.

Chilatherina alleni © Gerald R Allen
Chilatherina alleni rainbowfish © Gerald R Allen
Melipotes carolae © Bruce Beehler

Melipotes carolae © Bruce BeehlerDelias durai © Henk van Mastrigt
Delias durai buterfly © Henk van Mastrigt

According to WWF, environmental degradation is already taking a toll in New Guinea, with the incidence of forest fires increasing, coastal erosion worsening, and depletion of forest resources for local use. Since 1972 a quarter of Papua New Guinea’s rainforests have been lost or degraded, while 99 of the island’s species are now listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, including 59 mammals, 34 birds and 6 frogs.

But WWF says there is still time to protect New Guinea’s flora, fauna, and incredible cultural richness (New Guinea is home to 15 percent of the world’s spoken languages). It highlights the potential to boost the capacity of local communities to use legal mechanisms to protect their lands and resources from expropriation and expresses optimism that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism could generate revenue to support conservation activities (although the report fails to note the widespread corruption associated with early REDD efforts in Papua New Guinea). Final Frontier concludes by arguing that certification schemes for timber and agricultural commodities could help maintain New Guinea’s biodiversity in the future.

“It’s vital that New Guinea’s forests, rivers, lakes and seas are managed in a way that ensures they’ll continue to sustain economic and social development – and support the island’s fabulous wildlife,” states the report. “If we’re to safeguard this ‘final frontier’, it’ll require active partnerships between New Guinea’s communities and a wide range of stakeholders.”


New Guinea Slideshow