Coastal, Small Island and Coral Reef Ecosystems in Papua New Guinea
This assessment is a national assessment of Papua New Guinea’s coastal zones.
PNG’s coastal zone is defined as the space that extends 10 kilometers inland
from a shoreline or 10 meters below mean sea level but within 10 kilometers of
a shoreline. Local assessments will be conducted in Cape Vogel, the Lihir
Island Group, Buka and surrounding islands, and the Calvados Island Chain.
The lead institutions involved in this assessment are the Resource Management in
Asia-Pacific (RMAP) Program in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies
(RSPAS) at the Australian National University (ANU), and the University of PNG.
They will work in collaboration with the MBCP Executing Agency, Conservation
International, and other parties as relevant.
Dr Colin Filer
Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program
Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies
Australian National University
Phone: 61 2 6125 3039
Fax: 61 2 6125 4896
The focus of this assessment has shifted from local scale to national scale due
to time constraints and delays in the funding of the original assessment. At
the national scale, the users of this assessment are still identified as the
organizations that originally endorsed the idea of conducting an assessment of
‘small islands under pressure’. Their needs are identified primarily in terms
of the sectoral resource management regimes in which they play an active role.
For example, the Department of Environment and Conservation has a need for
information that ought to be incorporated into the National Biodiversity
Strategy and Action Plan, which it has not yet been able to produce, despite
the fact that PNG was one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on
Biological Diversity. Likewise, the National Fisheries Authority has a need for
information pertaining to the refinement and implementation of its coastal
Ecosystem services being assessed
Food and drugs
Key features of assessment
Many of Papua New Guinea’s coastal and marine environments are amongst the
world’s most ecologically diverse and pristine. The chief habitats include an
extensive and complex system of submerged and emergent coral reefs, including
fringing reefs, platform/patch reefs, barrier reefs and atolls, as well as
mangrove forests, seagrass beds, lagoons and mud, sand, rubble and rocky sea
bottoms. The species richness of these ecosystems is extraordinarily high, and
besides displaying high levels of endemism, the area supports large populations
of threatened species.
It has been found throughout past interactions with communities that local
populations are far more interested in ‘development’ than in ‘conservation’,
because they can reasonably say that they have been conserving their ecosystems
for thousands of years, but are now lagging in their access to modern health
and education services because of their small and scattered populations. At the
same time, many local communities are also keenly aware of the limited capacity
of their terrestrial ecosystems to supply the services required by continuing
population growth. There is substantial scientific and anecdotal evidence of a
common link between rapid population growth, degradation of the local resource
base, and intensification of disputes over the ownership and use of terrestrial
and/or marine resources. This assessment is driven by both local and
This assessment is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and
co-financed by a number of institutions, including the United Nations
Development Program, which is the GEF Implementing Agency, and Conservation
International (CI), which is the Executing Agency. CI has been responsible for
the detailed design of the program over the past three years. The total cost
over a four-year period is projected to be about US$300,000.