Papua: Sarmi Landscape

Sarmi District is located in the northern part of Papua Province.Almost all of its area – ranging from the low coastal land up to the Foja Mountain in the hinterlands – is covered with natural forests.This includes extensive areas of lowland peat swamp forest as well as mangrove forests along the 200 km coast. 97% of the landscape is still forest covered, with 74% of that amount in a pristine state.The region is known for its rich biodiversity in all forest types including tree-kangaroos, the enigmatic Northern Cassowary, 16 species of parrot and cockatoos, and 6 species of birds of paradise – all of which are relatively common throughout the landscape.

At present, Sarmi’s emerging economy relies on the development of large- scale palm oil and some mining of iron sands. Although historical deforestation and degradation rates have been low, the accessibility of Sarmi and Papua in general through ever-improving infrastructure could lead to rapid and unsustainable expansion in areas designated for development, especially in the palm oil sector. The entire northern coastline has been designated for industrial activities. If not managed carefully, these developments will pose a threat to biodiversity, the loss of large tracts of currently intact forest, and local community livelihoods.

Key Activities in Sarmi Landscape

The core initiative in the Sarmi Landscape is to ensure high conservation value (HCV) and high carbon stock (HCS) conservation. Historical deforestation and degradation rates are relatively low and 70% of the landscape is currently within natural forest timber concessions. These companies are therefore important managers of the northern Papua low- land forests and the adoption of Best Management Practices (BMPs) could further minimize GHG emissions and forest loss. Potential large-scale deforestation and associated GHG emissions will come from future development of industrial scale plantations. As such, the primary LESTARI initiative in the landscape is to improve environmental governance and ensure that impacts of these developments are mitigated.

LESTARI encourages the revision of public policy on land use that allows for deforestation and degradation while promoting low emissions development strategies that balance conservation and development objectives.

LESTARI aims to strengthen and improve spatial planning implementation. In the Sarmi Landscape, this focuses on supporting the Sarmi District government to operationalize Strategic Environment Assessments (SEAs) and Land Conservation Plan (LCPs) by integrating their recommendations into district spatial plans, development plans, and budgeting processes, while ensuring that development respects local communities’ livelihood needs and areas of importance for climate change mitigation and biodiversity conser vation.

Additionally, opportunities to work with community smallholders and the private sector to develop sustainable green enterprises will be explored. By applying this approach, it is expected that there would be shared responsibility in conserving the area and maintaining a balance between development and conservation objectives.

Map of Sarmi Landscape