Marine Natural Values Atlas of Eastern Indonesia
A friend, ecologist and accomplished statistician who worked in New Guinea once told me he disregarded scientific models to spend time with local people, often village elders, seeking advice on the effect that similar changes in the past, had had to their livelihoods and the environment around them. Years of intrinsic understanding, interpreted through an ecological mediator, would prove more valuable than any rapid survey or assessment by an outsider.
Eastern Indonesia is an amazing world within itself and takes more than a few visits to behold its wealth, scale and diversity of natural wonders. For starters where else do you find three-quarters of the world’s coral species in an area just one-tenth of the size of the Great Barrier Reef?
As ecologists we are trained to think at the ecosystem level, from the tiniest plankton to the largest whale, all connected on a physical, chemical and biological basis to the rest of the planet. So how far along the value chain do you go before drawing a line? The ‘economy’ that drives any ecosystem is more advanced and complex than anything science can ever explain fully.
Everyone shares the right to a clean and healthy environment. Most of us understand and protect the places we live and work and know the best environmental outcomes are achieved when we are well-informed; understand how our lives connect to the natural world; and can articulate this to our community’s leaders.
In Eastern Indonesia marine value is on a scale like almost nowhere else on Earth and important enough that change will be felt globally.
Its custodians are also among the poorest in the world but their livelihoods and our future are connected. The ecosystem here may be worthy of the title ‘Cradle of Life’, because if we want future generations to share in the oceans we have now, we must protect this valuable 25 million year-old ecosystem.
This publication is based on the experiences we have in this region and is given to supporting the voice of Indonesians advocating the region’s value. It is also offered as a way to support conservationists and youth ambassadors who represent their communities, to lobby for, motivate and support the protection of the world’s most important marine ecosystems.