In 1998 a Dutch NGO collaborated with the Village Development Trust (Lae) to construct an ecotourism lodge at Kamiali. This facility provides accommodation and meals for visiting scientists and ecotourists. The future Kulindi research facility will be constructed about 100 m to the west and will provide a base for studies in the nearby lowland rain forest and adjacent coral reefs. It will be constructed to the highest possible sustainable building standards. Our preliminary design is for a 15 x 30 m solar-powered building, with a two-tiered roof for ventilation. While initial planning involved the construction of the facility from locally-sourced timber using a portable sawmill, such a building may be too susceptible to damage by termites, and other materials or a pre-fabricated may be used. The interior of the facility will be basic but operational – several rooms for offices and storage and a large commons area with laboratory benches for microscopes and analytical equipment, processing samples, writing up notes, etc.
Bishop Museum in PNG
Today, we are building on the direct relationship between economic incentive and environmental conservation by developing a biological field station at Kamiali. A properly equipped field station, in combination with properly managed tropical forest and coral reef ecosystems and their high regional biodiversity, will draw scientists to the region. Laboratory and accommodation fees paid by researchers will cover the station’s operating costs and generate modest surplus revenue that will go into a trust fund managed by the landowners for use in development initiatives and to pay school fees for village children, and providing direct economic benefits for conservation efforts. This arrangement will ensure protection of the area in perpetuity. Local landowners have enthusiastically supported this effort by formally protecting (through government gazettal) 47,000 ha of rain forest and adjacent marine habitat. They have indicated interest in expanding the protected area to 300,000 ha, equivalent to 2.5 times the area of Okinawa. Constructing a field station at the site will open the area to a wide range of biological research, particularly long term ecological studies, and provide an important and urgently needed site for training PNG undergraduate and graduate students. The major objectives at Kamiali are to:
- Protect and manage in perpetuity a globally significant expanse of species-rich rain forest and adjacent marine habitat;
- Construct a world-class field station that meets the highest possible sustainable building standards and is a model for such a facility at a remote site;
- Train local villagers to manage and operate the field facility; and
- Demonstrate that biodiversity conservation can be accomplished in PNG by bringing science and scientists directly to the people and working in partnership with landowners to meet their modest development needs.
The Kamiali Biological Field Station addresses an acute need in PNG to sustainably use and not squander biological wealth – the forests and marine resources on which much of the population subsists. The project demonstrates that conservation can be accomplished at globally significant levels by working directly with landowning groups; it brings science to the people and international scientists into direct contact with local scientists, students and landowners as trainers and mentors; it demonstrates that a research station can operate at a remote site using sustainable technology; and it facilitates long-term ecological studies that focus on such globally important issues as climate change, amphibian declines, coral bleaching, and sustainable and cultural use of natural resources.
Allen Allison, PhD – Senior Zoologist
Dr. Allen Allison has worked for the Bishop Museum for 35 years. He has conducted field work in Papua New Guinea since 1973, with support from the National Science Foundation and other sources, and has discovered more than 100 new species of amphibians and reptiles. In 2001 he established the Kamiali Biological Station on the north coast of New Guinea to advance research, conservation, and training in the Pacific region.
Kenneth Longenecker, PhD – Assistant Zoologist
Dr. Ken Longenecker is an associate researcher and a 10-year staff member of the Bishop Museum. His work focuses on generating biological information that promotes conservation and sustainable use of marine animals. He has been working in Papua New Guinea for six years.