Seven new species of frogs have been uncovered during recent surveys of Manus Island, the fifth largest island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) at 2,100 km2. All are endemic to the remote Manus group of islands that are under threat from rising sea levels and logging, making this a candidate Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site. According to a recent MacArthur Foundation funded analysis in Melanesia by the Bishop Museum, the high beta diversity of the New Guinea herpetofauna and uncertainty over the impacts of climate change on local biota make it difficult to assess site-specific effects or identify specific areas of low risk to climate change. The report recommends a priority on maximizing ecosystem resilience to climate change through the protection of as much intact natural habitat and their accompanying ecological processes as possible, and a need to improve our understanding about species behavior and physiology, ecological requirements, or physiological thresholds. Protecting the elevational range on Manus Island from “ridge to reef”, up to the island’s highest point at just 800 m, is critical to ensure that the potential for species movement in response to a changing climate is maintained. Manus Island has high densities of a Callophyllum tree species that is in high commercial demand and, as a result, logging companies have already destroyed much of the forest on the west of the island. Local scientists, partners and communities have identified an urgent need to protect remaining forests for the benefit not only of biodiversity but also for the well being of the communities.
Seven new frog species are the target of the project’s conservation initiative.
We will partner with a local NGO, PNG Institute for Biological Research (IBR), to start working with local communities on the development of a Community Conservation Area (CCA) in Manus Island, encompassing an altitudinal gradient that spans from sea level to 800 m asl. The CCA will serve as a base for the long-term monitoring of climate change impacts on focal amphibian species, and frog call loggers will be installed to facilitate audio monitoring. Manus Island provides an ideal location within PNG for developing capacity for amphibian monitoring due to good education and awareness levels of local communities.
GWC and partners will support the implementation of the conservation area in PNG that offers multiple benefits for both wildlife and people. The area consists of land pledged by more than 35 villages, forming a continuous stretch from coastal reefs to the 4,000 m peaks. The PNG Minister for Environment and Conservation publicly declared his support for the YUS Conservation Area in the context of formally launching PNG’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in October 2007 at the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) conference in Alotau and encouraged other projects in which ‘Conservation Serves Communities’ will be developed.
We will work with local communities on the development of a Community Conservation Area (CCA) in Manus Island, encompassing an altitudinal gradient that spans from sea level to 800 m asl.
The CCA will serve as a base for the long-term monitoring of climate change impacts on focal amphibian species, and call loggers will be installed to facilitate audio monitoring.
The implementation component of the project will be modeled on the concept of the conservation area as a sustainable model for community-based conservation in PNG by seeking to conserve forest carbon, endemic biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to benefit local rural communities by providing income streams from activities that have low impact on traditional ways of life.
The process of establishing a CCA will require an investment that is beyond the three-year timeframe of this project; however, during the course of this project we aim to make demonstrable progress in building a constituency for conservation in the area and in laying the foundation for the establishment of a CCA to protect remaining forest on Manus Island. In addition to building capacity for the long-term monitoring of amphibians that will inform the stewardship of the conservation area and feed into an adaptive management strategy.
© 2012 Global Wildlife Conservation