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Equator Initiative Case Study - Conservation Melanesia

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Since 1995, the biologically diverse Collingwood Bay area on the coast of Oro Province, north-eastern Papua New Guinea, has been the setting for a conflict between the province’s 3,000 indigenous Maisin people and proposed commercial logging and palm oil development within the community’s 262,000 hectares of ancestral lands. In 1998, 38,000 hectares of tropical forest were fraudulently signed over to a foreign investor; since then, Conservation Melanesia, a local environmental NGO, has been a critical ally in publicizing the community’s plight and building capacity to resist the proposed development.
In 2002, after a three-year battle, the Papua New Guinea National Court ruled in the Maisin’s favour, returning the title of their land back to them. Since then, Conservation Melanesia has worked to develop a sustainable, long-term resource management strategy that effectively conserves the Maisin’s traditional forest land and supplies the community with a means of supporting themselves. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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