Integrated Conservation and Development (ICAD) in Papua New Guinea


The Programme’s principal aim was to expand the country’s protected area system in order to establish a representative system that provides for the management of PNG’s considerable biodiversity endowment.


Papua New Guinea

Problem Overview:

Papua New Guinea may contain between 5-7 per cent of the world’s species. As a result of isolation and evolutionary radiation, a significant proportion of species are endemic to the region. But the country is fast becoming a conservation “hot spot’ as its biodiversity endowment faces accelerating pressures from logging, agriculture, subsistence activities and infrastructural development. Lacking a protected area system that is representative of its diverse habitats, PNG urgently requires specific conservation interventions.


The Programme’s principal aim was to expand the country’s protected area system in order to establish a representative system that provides for the management of PNG’s considerable biodiversity endowment.

The immediate objectives were:

-Establish pilot ICADPs to develop innovative methodologies for the conservation of biodiversity

-Provide institutional strengthening to DEC for conservation of biodiversity

-Establish an institutional, legal, financial, and policy framework for the expansion and future maintenance of the conservation system.

The Lak area of southern New Ireland island in the Bismarck archipelago north-east of the PNG mainland in was selected as project site. The Lak’s area is over 80,000 hectares of making it a substantially large area to conserve biodiversity

Partners: Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG), GEF/UNDP


Project field operations began in earnest in the New Year of 1994. A multi-disciplinary Biodiversity Rapid Survey (BIORAP) was carried out in the Lak over a 5 week period. Initial indications from the survey suggested that biodiversity levels were not as high as had been expected but that there was a high degree of endemism, important tracts of unique montane forests and a unique island ecosystem.

The project faced many challenges due to the community’s perception that logging is providing it with good financial resources. The community entered into a logging and marketing agreement with Niguini Lumber Merchants Pty Ltd (NGL). This agreement was the main hurdle for Lak, the project was never able to break it and to convince the local community to embrace more sustainable logging practices for their longer-term benefit.


Constraining Factors:

The community’s perceived economic advantage in cooperating with logging companies. Lak landowners had been campaigning for a logging project for at least 8 years prior to the actual start of harvesting. They perceive payment given by logging companies as an easy financial windfall.

-Weak infrastructure coverage

-Market fragmentation for products from Lak

-Low skill base

-High labour investment needs

Results and Replicability:

A critical lesson learned from Lak is that though biological criteria may be used as a basis for identifying broad areas of interest (of high conservation value) for conservation interventions, social criteria must dictate the choice of specific sites.

-The style and substance of an ICAD project’s initial contact with local communities will have implications for its subsequent ability to handle the issue of “dependency”. Many communities equate projects with opportunities for gaining rent; projects that obviously display wealth are likely to reinforce these ideas. ICAD projects must aim at building self-reliance at the local level. Rather than “doing” development, they must provide catalytic support for it. Initial contact with villagers – community entry – is vital as it is the entry point for trust building, information gathering, awareness raising, education and most other project activities.

-ICAD projects are based on the notion that by providing local communities with support for development, a direct link between conservation goals and community welfare objectives can be made. But there are problems with providing material incentives within an ICAD framework. Successful community-based income-generation projects require a wide range of ingredients; many of these may be absent locally. Community expectations of “quick fix” development, and their ability to obtain it (by charging resource rents to loggers), may preclude the search for solutions. The problem is that conventional logging may destroy the very resource base required by the alternatives. ICADPs must invest heavily in education to transform communities’ ideas about development. Unless communities come to redefine their strategies for seeking development in ways that ICAD projects can support, then "conservation through development" initiatives will continue to fail.

Submitted by:

Contact: Nikhil Sekhran
Tel: (212) 906-6033

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