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9316 ha of primary rainforest protected due to a stable vanilla market

22nd April 2022

Primary rainforest protected due to stable income from vanilla

To mark “Earth Day” on 22nd of April and celebrate environmental protection, 20 clans gathered dressed in their traditional attire, and performed customary songs and dances to mark the protection of their land from logging and other unsustainable activities. By declararing and signing conservation deeds these remote forest tribal people chose to protect their land instead of signing clear-fell logging contracts because they had secured alternative sources of income. Sustainable production of high-quality vanilla enabled rural farmers to choose rainforest protection in partnership with Kamapim Ltd and its international market.


PNG forests form part of the third largest tropical rainforest on the planet, yet are threatened by increasing logging, agroforestry-related land clearing, mining activities, as well as population growth that increases pressure to clear land for by subsistence agriculture. 


In PNG, tribal clans own their land and can decide how to use, develop and work it. Here, 

3,775 hectares are now protected by a conservation deed, a binding contract regulating the use of natural resources, signed by 12 clans. Today another 8 neighbouring clans will sign a second conservation deed to protect a further 5,612 hectares. These deeds legalize local rules governing how resources are used and set penalties for infringements.





Kamapim Ltd., a subsidiary of the international Envirium Life Sciences Group, has provided a sustainable agriculture model which generates good income to farmers while keeping the primary forest intact. Yikmol landowner group, a consortium of 96 clans happy with their income then invited the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to help formalize the protection of their land. 


“With 8% of the world’s diversity in less than 1% of its landmass, the country is remarkably diverse in terms of species, landscapes, ecosystems and culture”, explains Dr. Adrian Tejedor, Country Director at WCS PNG. “WCS has been supporting landowners to develop land use mapping and conservation deeds to preserve, protect and manage their land in a traditional based system for 20 years. We were thrilled to be invited to be part of this work, where the landowners were genuinely worried their forests would be taken from them without their consent”


“Kamapim was founded to develop sustainable businesses that would contribute to the protection of biodiversity. We agreed with farmers to develop revenue driven activities, while they would keep away exploitative logging or mining activities. I asked them to give me three years to see if we could make a difference to their lives before, they choose which direction they would like to go, logging or conservation”, says Dr. Nancy Irwin, Managing Director- Kamapim Ltd. “People know the benefits of keeping their land intact because it makes it more fertile, they have clean water, food, forest products, but they need income. Vanilla has enabled them today to unanimously choose conservation.”


Bryan Lavate, secretary of Yikmol association explains how farmers lives have improved,

“Since we started working with Kamapim we have bank accounts, phones, and our businesses included women who were usually left out of cash crop sales. We now have money to send our children to school. We are building better houses, buying solar panels... We know how to increase the quality and quantity of our vanilla without the need for more gardens. We get a good price at our house door and no longer travel hours to find a market. For boundary mapping we were trained to use GPS and take the coordinates ourselves. Our people are proud, not only do we have market, but we are also getting knowledge that is already changing our community in many positive ways” 


Pias Muri, Chief of Bema of Kumbu and Chairman of Yikmol, added “We are watchmen of our forest, it doesn’t belong to us, but to our future generations, our ancestors gave it to us, and we must give it to our children. It’s easy not to think and chop it down for quick money as we have so much forest. Our land is now protected for our children and their children. We understand that the world needs our forests for the climate and clean air, saving our forest saves everybody. Kamapim are teaching us to develop without destruction and we are already living better than before!”  




“With the business model developed in Congo (DRC) with Virunga Park and here in PNG, we demonstrate that people earn more money by keeping their land. They create more value in developing sustainable agriculture and protecting their biodiversity than through the alternative of letting others exploit their land”, explains Dr. Christian Van Osselaer, co-CEO of Envirium Life Sciences. “We prefer to work with small-holder farmers, sharing good land management practices and product processes, which leads to higher quality and productivity. With access to international markets, products are sold at a better price, which increases farmer income. Consumers can choose to support such value-chains when they purchase their goods”. 



Market Development Facility (MDF) has supported Kamapim, funding agricultural training, Agri-tech and microloans to be delivered in Madang Province allowing the partnership and vanilla market for the landowners to flourish. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the Lukautim Graun Programme (To look after the landscape) have funded WCS work in this project and agreed the fund the extension of conservation deeds across the forests of Yikmol and Kokomav Landowner groups. This will put 150 000 ha of the Adelbert Mountain range into conservation deeds. With a strong partnership between Kamapim Ltd., the landowners, WCS and their donors, biodiversity will be protected while income is guaranteed from high-quality vanilla production. 

This work was achieved through a collaboration of partners and donor funding:

Yikomol Landowners Association, Kamapim Ltd, MDF, WCSPNG,USAIDLGP


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