Conservation Deeds in Papa New Guinea are the result of a community-driven process that creates a locally managed conservation area, and a long term community stake in the protection of natural resources in ways that also meet the economic and social needs of the community.
Robert H. Horwich in "A Landowner's Handbook of Relevant Environmental Law in Papua New Guinea" states that "The Conservation Deed is a recent innovation which might be considered something like a 'People's Conservation Area.'…[S]ome lawyers feel it may be the strongest kind of legal land protection…"
Conservation Deeds are a relatively new innovation in PNG, spearheaded by the work of the Bismarck Ramu Group (BRG).
The first ever Conservation Deed was signed by eleven clans of Wanang Village in the Sogeram region, of Madang Province, PNG. That event, which was the culmination of two years training and community facilitation by BRG, took place at Wanang village on June 1, 2000. Activities leading up to and following that event contributed toward the blocking of the operations and expansion of Madang Timbers in the Sogeram Forest Management Area. For the past seven years, there has been no logging in the area.
We are now applying this model coastal/maritime communities. We envision a maritime conservation process planned and implemented by the partners: each local (coastal) community, Gildipasy Planning Committee (local CBO), STRP and facilitators. Community members will be the ones to actually set up their marine conservation areas and eventually sign conservation deeds.
We have heard personally from leaders and people in coastal village who know in their hearts that they have to do something about the decline, not only in the number of sea turtles frequenting their beaches, but also the decline in the entire fisheries resources. They are beginning to realize that they themselves had been and still are one of the causes of the decreasing fish stocks (and sea turtles). They also know that outside interests such as commercial fishing are also causes of the decrease. Our goal is to get them through a process to think and work out what they can do to address this issue and to develop actions plans to move forward.