PAPUA ISLAND - INDONESIA
The Richest Marine Habitat in the
The Raja Ampat, or “Four Kings,”
archipelago encompasses more than 9.8 million acres of land and sea
off the northwestern tip of Indonesia’s West Papua Province. Located
in the Coral Triangle, the heart of the world’s coral reef
biodiversity, the seas around Raja Ampat possibly hold the richest
variety of species in the world.
The area’s massive coral colonies show that its reefs are resistant
to threats like coral bleaching and disease —threats that now
jeopardize the survival of corals around the world. In addition,
Raja Ampat’s strong ocean currents sweep coral larvae across the
Indian and Pacific Oceans to replenish other reef ecosystems. Raja
Ampat’s coral diversity, resilience to threats, and ability to
replenish reefs make it a global priority for marine protection.
Survey Confirms Highest Marine
Biodiversity on Earth
In 2002, The Nature Conservancy and its
partners conducted a scientific survey of the Raja Ampat Islands to
collect information on its marine ecosystems, mangroves, and
forests. The survey brought Raja Ampat’s total number of confirmed
corals to 537 species— an incredible 75% of all known coral species.
In addition, 899 fish species were recorded, raising the known total
for Raja Ampat to an amazing 1,074. On land, the survey found lush
forests, rare plants, limestone outcroppings, and nesting beachesfor
thousands of sea turtles.
Though human impacts here are less severe than elsewhere in
Indonesia, Raja Ampat’s natural resources are endangered by over
fishing and destructive fishing, turtle poaching, and unsustainable
logging. The Indonesian government recently established Raja Ampat
as a separate administrative unit, which will give communities a
greater say in managing the natural resources upon which their
livelihoods depend. This structure also offers an important
opportunity to include conservation in the spatial planning of the
newly formed local government.
Ensuring Conservation through
To address these issues, the Conservancy
launched a new project to protect Raja Ampat, working in close
partnership with the government and communities to: 1) contribute to
a comprehensive conservation action plan to protect Raja Ampat’s
reefs and forests; 2) help incorporate marine protected area
management into long-term planning and policy; and, 3) establish a
network of marine protected areas for Raja Ampat.
The Conservancy’s ultimate goal is to protect Raja Ampat’s
magnificent reefs while sustaining the livelihoods of local people.
Raja Ampat includes the four large islands of Waigeo, Batanta,
Salawati, and Misool, plus hundreds of smaller islands. The
archipelago is part of an area known as the Bird’s Head functional
seascape, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine
national park in Indonesia.