Rethinking Papua New Guinea's Forests: Teachers’ Conservation Resource book calls on future leaders to sustainably manage PNG’s high value biodiversity forests.
Recognising the impact young students play in the promotion and protection of their natural resources, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Education Curriculum Division approved a teacher’s resource guidebook as a way to raise awareness and promote environmental education.
Through the guidebook, teachers can engage students in a variety of activities, such as nature walks, field trips, and hands-on projects, that allow them to explore and learn about their local environment. By doing so, students can develop a sense of appreciation for the natural world and become more conscious of their own impact on the environment.
The environmental education resource book titled; Conservation of the Kikori River Basin: A Teacher's Resource Book for Primary Schools, will be used as a national teachers’ guide for primary school students from Grade 3 - Grade 8 in the five provinces of the Kikori River Basin.
The five provinces namely the Gulf, Enga, Southern Highlands, Western and Hela are located within and around the river catchment area and boasts a unique array of ecosystems and vegetation types which covers approximately 2.3 million hectares.
As the third largest intact tropical rainforest in the world, after the Amazon and Congo, the Kikori River Basin is considered a high value biodiversity area and is home to an extremely rich array of birds of paradise, cassowaries (Casuarius species), New Guinea harpy-eagles (Harpyopsis novaeguineae), and vulturine parrots (Gypopsitta vulturina).
A high biodiversity value area denotes an ecosystem that exhibits a rich and diverse array of flora and fauna, comprising a significant number of species, complex food webs, a diverse range of ecological niches, heightened genetic diversity, and abundant resources.
The region, also boasts one of the world's rarest birds, the greatermelampittas (Melampitta species), the world’s largest butterfly- the Queen Alexandria birdwing and the world’s longest lizard-Salvadori’s monitor lizard measuring 2.5meters.
The teachers’ guide showcases the important conservation work WWF and its partners are actively engaged in with communities by promoting its ecological significance and iconic endemic species.In 1998, Lake Kutubu (a natural fresh water lake) which lies in the heart of the Kikori Basin was designated a RAMSAR site, highlighting its international significance as an important wetland.
The First Assistant Secretary of the Curriculum and Measurement Unit for the Department of Education Mr Steven Tandale thanked WWF for their commitment towards providing in-depth opportunities for PNG’s students.
“I am thankful for the invaluable support received towards the publication of the Kikori River Basin teachers guide, since it will be used to instil a sense of pride and responsibility by actively engaging our students to understand the vital link tropical forests play in sustaining life,” said Tandale.
“As beneficiaries, students will learn the important services Forests provide, the vital linkages between Watersheds, the impact of changing weather patterns, how these factors are connected to the ocean and their role as custodians.” he added.
Tandale said, the teachers’ guide further highlights the other significant drivers of change that students and communities are witness to within the Kikori basin such as logging, agriculture mining, oil extraction, overfishing which is changing the landscape.
“It provides students with real life scenarios on which to base their learning and apply skills and knowledge that encourages them to take environmental action and voice their concerns while participating in local restoration.”
The WWF Pacific Office in PNG’s Forest Programme Manager Kenn Modiai thanked the Ministry of Education for the partnership adding that the guide equips students with an early insight into conservation.
“Incorporating theory and field visits at an early age builds problem solving skills to some conservation issues,” he said.
Support towards the compilation and publication of the teachers’ guide was provided by the Innovation Fund and Silent Foundation through the WWF Singapore Office.
WWF PNG’s programme focuses on strengthening and promoting sustainable conservation measures in both its marine (seascape) and forest (landscape) areas in two priority landscapes- the Kikori River Basin and the Madang Lagoon.