Papuan Bird’s Head Seascape: Emerging threats and challenges in the global center of marine biodiversity
The Bird’s Head Seascape located in eastern Indonesia is the global epicenter of tropical shallow water marine biodiversity with over 600 species of corals and 1,638 species of coral reef fishes. The Seascape also includes critical habitats for globally threatened marine species, including sea turtles and cetaceans. Since 2001, the region has undergone rapid development in fisheries, oil and gas extraction, mining and logging. The expansion of these sectors, combined with illegal activities and poorly planned coastal development, is accelerating deterioration of coastal and marine environments. At the same time, regency governments have expanded their marine protected area networks to cover 3,594,702 ha of islands and coastal waters. Low population numbers, relatively healthy natural resources and a strong tenure system in eastern Indonesia provide an opportunity for government and local communities to collaboratively manage their resources sustainably to ensure long-term food security, while meeting their development aspirations.