Mappi-Bouven Digoel is a new landscape for USAID projects. It covers a large undeveloped expanse of lowland forest on a lowland mineral terrace and extensive peat lands, swamps, and some mangrove in the lower reaches towards the coast.The landscape is characterized by Papua’s largest river, the Digoel, which forms the eastern boundary of the landscape.
Southeast Papua has long been the focus of large development plans for the expansion in agricultural and land-based energy estates.The MIFEE (Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate) project that was initiated under the SBY government has been revisited and supported by the Jokowi administration. The actual impact of MIFEE spreads beyond the Merauke District, as large parcels of land have long been designated for conversion to oil palm and pulp plantations in Bouven Digoel and Mappi Districts. 2015 fires indicate rapid expansion of plantations in Mappi and Bouven Digoel districts. LESTARI aims to take this opportunity to inform local stakeholders as well as developers of the consequences and impacts of plantation/ concessions development in this area.
The core initiative in the Mappi-Bouven Digoel Landscape is to rationalize current and proposed plantations to ensure conservation of high conservation value (HCV) and high carbon stock (HCS) forest. In addition to introducing peatland management and efforts to reduce deforestation, LESTARI will also work with the private sector to assist in investment screening for companies that have yet to start operation in the landscape. Information provided through LESTARI includes land use and tenure patterns, community and biodiversity values within the license areas, and proposal development scenarios that aim to mitigate GHG emissions and the loss of biodiversity while directing development towards areas where socio-economic and cultural impact is minimized. LESTARI will encourage the development of a multi-functional landscape, which is a foundational principle of its landscape approach.
Advocacy and communication is also an important initiative in this landscape to mitigate the impact of oil palm plantations and paper/pulp companies. As this is a new area for USAID project implementation, establishing MSFs, creating a sustainable landscape vision, and improving spatial planning through a foundational SEA-LEDS will be key activities throughout the districts.