Every year the amount of forest protected by Cool Earth’s partners grows. That’s because good ideas spread fast, and because people like you are providing support.
In Peru, neighbours have learned about Cool Earth at volleyball matches, chatonka tournaments, and vaccination drives. In the Congo, it’s usually at a wedding. In Papua New Guinea, where the rainforest meets the sea, how better to spread the word than a sailing race?
At the very first Cool Earth regatta, 28 outrigger canoes with tarpaulin sails turned up at Gadaisu for a day of racing and dancing. People came from far and wide to compete, and the news about Cool Earth travelled back to a remote village called Wabumari, who sent Basil Matasi to ask if we would come for a visit.
Wabumari means ‘morning dew’ and lies about an hour’s boat ride from Gadaisu. Houses constructed from sago poles with screens woven from coconut sit along a muddy, sheltered shore. Situated just behind is a shallow basin covered in pristine flat rainforest that is, unfortunately, ideal for palm oil production.
Wabumari is actually made up of ten little hamlets. Together there are 69 families here who are struggling to defend their forest. Like everywhere in Papua New Guinea, there’s an amazing variety of languages which are spoken. As well as the local language, Lausaha, most people speak English and at least one other. Some speak as many as six. But no matter the language, they are all united by a common goal – to protect their forest.
Whilst it is a beautiful place, poverty makes the community vulnerable. Three-quarters of families earn less than £10 a month, with most scraping together a living by selling betel nuts or fishing. Offers from palm plantation owners for their forest are difficult to resist.
That is why Wabumari village contacted Cool Earth to ask if we would form a partnership with them. They want to develop sustainable incomes which can out-price loggers. They also want to address immediate concerns like lack of access to education and good healthcare.
Thanks to you, we were able to say ‘yes’ right away.
It’s not all been plain sailing. It’s taken months just to open a bank account for the community association due to the yards of red tape. But it’s one of the few things we insist on, so we can give funds to a separate entity, not a single person, and this way the community stays in control. This month Wabumari has officially become our second partner village in Papua New Guinea bringing a total of 40,000 acres into community protection.
Needless to say, Wabumari is looking forward to hosting next year’s regatta.