Lessons in conservation from traditional indigenous practices

What can we learn about contemporary conservation from indigenous practices? A West Papuan PhD candidate at James Cook University in Cairns is finding out.

In the Bird’s Head Peninsula region of Indonesia, Freddy Pattiselanno is researching how indigenous peoples’ traditional hunting patterns have adjusted in the face of societal changes.

He’s also investigating how natural resources have been used and protected in traditional practice, in the hope of identifying lessons that can be incorporated into Indonesian environmental policies.

“To date, there hasn’t been much research on wildlife and human activities in the large tropical forests of West Papua, particularly how animals are hunted for food and what this means for biodiversity and local food security,” Freddy says.

So far, he’s found a great variety of traditional approaches and knowledge regarding hunting, which need to be considered individually when looking to incorporate them into modern conservation or natural resource management programs.

Freddy is looking to extend his approach, to utilise the knowledge of indigenous Australians and apply this to the management of other protected areas, particularly in northern Australia.

He is connected with the School of Animal Science at Universitas Papua, and traveled to Australia to undertake a PhD at James Cook University with the help of the Indonesian Directorate of Higher Education and an AusAID scholarship (now an Australia Award Scholarship). Freddy has written about his research here.