The Wau Ecology Institute (WEI), Papua New Guinea's only environmental organization involved both in research and education, began in 1961 as field station of the Bishop Museum. In 1973, WEI became a registered non-governmental organization. The Bishop Museum remains a sponsor, but WEI is now independent, with internally generated projects, often funded by outside sources.
WEI maintains a small natural history museum and a larger environmental museum; the latter will have permanent exhibits installed in late 1991.Laboratory space for in-house staff and visiting scientists is supplemented by an herbarium and zoological reference collections of local specimens. WEI also supports a library. Other facilities include a small zoo, dehumidified storage space, microscopes, and computers.
In 1990, WEI launched an environmental monitoring program, with special concentration on heavy metal pollution from nearby mines. Also that year, WEI established two educational departments, one focusing on landowner awareness (making village landowners aware of the value of protecting their native forests). The other educational program is the site-stable garden and training area to teach villagers about alternatives to shifting cultivation.
WEI is expanding its natural history collections and survey programs. It now stores the largest collections of moths in Papua New Guinea, some12,000 specimens. This is being developed as a reference collection, that will eventually be split up with vouchers going to the National Insect Collection(Port Moresby), the University of Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby), and the Forest Research Institute (Lae). A related program deals accumulating traditional knowledge of medicinal plants.
WWW page of the Wau Ecology Institute