Mr. Gideon Warite. ©UNDP/C.Hawigen

 

Gideon Warite is from the Koiari Tribe of the Sogeri Plateau. He is one of 10 National United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Community Rangers at the Varirata National Park, situated about 48km east of Port Moresby.

He sees himself as a custodian of the environment and has a deep connection with his land.

“I grew up in this area. My parents told me of the many tales of the land and how our ancestors lived in harmony with nature,” Mr. Warite recalled vividly.

In 2019, Gideon joined the UNV programme.

Varirata National Park is managed by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) and was acquired from the Koiari people. Officially opened in 1973, it is one of the first national parks in Papua New Guinea.

Gideon encourages younger Rangers to learn about traditional systems to manage the land. When explaining the Koiari Tree House, Mr Warite speaks with great enthusiasm and pride.

The Koiari Tree House is a main attraction for visitors, signifying the traditional knowledge and culture of the local community. Other activities at the Park include research, hiking, bird watching, camping and site seeing.

“My knowledge of the environment and the Koiari culture was taught to me by my parents. I have to pass it down to younger generations. I am always eager to share my knowledge of the history of this place,” Gideon said.

The community rangers were recently introduced to an innovative smart phone app, called ‘Lukim Gather.’ It was developed by UNDP to allow Gideon, other rangers and communities to quickly record and report harmful activities, such as illegal logging, bush fires and other harmful human activities in protected areas. For Gideon, this is a novel approach to conservation.

“The smart phone application is new to me and I am now using it to collect data that can be used by CEPA and others for research purposes.”

The application was piloted in the Park and will soon also be rolled out at Tenkile Conservation Area in Lumi, West Sepik Province, with plans to upscale it nationally.

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