The Raja Ampat Islands are an Indonesian archipelago off the northwest tip of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua. The islands contain globally important coral reefs and are an Endemic Bird Area, home to threatened species such as the endangered Waigeo brush-turkey, and two near threatened birds-of-paradise (Wilson’s and red). To safeguard Raja Ampat’s magnificent forest biodiversity and ecosystem services, FFI developed a collaborative project in order to promote sustainable forms of development in four communities on Waigeo Island (Kalitoko, Warimak, Saporkren and Wawiyai) as well as improving rural livelihoods and planning for climate change adaptation.

This project aims to conserve the ecosystem from ‘ridge to reef’ with support from communities, government and other stakeholders. The impact of destructive fishing practices has been successfully addressed in Raja Ampat and FFI is now supporting sustainable land management along the upper stream (or ridge) to prevent further damage to the reef. We are also supporting the implementation of a SMART patrol using community rangers and working with a network of local informants to tackle illegal activities such as logging and poaching.

FFI has proposed a Locally Managed Marine Area to conserve coastal and marine ecosystems in Raja Ampat – in particular for Waigeo and Misool. The beaches of both these islands are known nesting sites of green sea turtles and Misool’s coastal area has been identified as a crucial feeding ground for the dugong, a threatened marine mammal.

Illegal wildlife trade poses a serious threat to parrots and birds-of-paradise. FFI is addressing this issue through awareness raising, collaborative patrolling and development of alternative livelihoods, particularly related to birdwatching and broader eco-tourism activities. Additionally, we are working with communities to secure their customary rights to use natural resources in a sustainable manner.

We are grateful for financial support from the UK government’s Darwin Initiative and Oroverde-Die Tropenwaldshiftung.