Acoustic survey conducted on ecosystems in PNG
Scientists are surveying conservation areas in a Papua New Guinea mountain range to gauge the impact of 15 years of conservation effort.
Scientists are surveying conservation areas in a Papua New Guinea mountain range to gauge the impact of 15 years of conservation efforts.
A Nature Conservancy scientist, Eddie Game, says the surveys are to assist communities in the Aedelbert Mountains of Madang to understand the effectiveness of their conservation initiatives.
The survey involves recording the soundscape in the area.
Mr Game told Koroi Hawkins the soundscape surveys will show whether the designated conservation areas are large enough preserve the environment and the key species.
EDDIE GAME: We've worked with them for about 15 years, essentially to help them design a set of land uses that enable them to concentrate their gardening in one area, their logging in another area and their conservation in another area. Then we look at alternate streams of income to offset any lost revenue from logging. That's the basis of the conservation project but like most places in Melanesia it is really based on local tenure and it happens within the boundaries of a local community. So the communities essentially decide what areas they want to set aside and one of the things we didn't know was that whether the conservation areas they were setting aside were actually large enough to protect the sorts of species they were interested in, essentially to protect their natural heritage. This acoustic monitoring we are doing is really aimed at looking at the bio-diversity that is being protected inside community conservation areas in the Aedelbert mountains.
KOROI HAWKINS: Monitoring via sound, how does that work?
EG: The concept is that in a reasonably intact forest or landscape, all the different creatures have evolved to communicate at slightly different frequencies and with different patterns and so you can sort of look at how full the soundscape is. As a forest is degraded and the landscape is changed we lose some of those species and we lose some of the corresponding niches if you like, some of the corresponding places in the soundscape. If you were to compare the sound in a really intact forest and the sound of a really degraded forest we would expect for them to look different but also to hear different but the important thing is that by analysing the sound we can pick up differences that might not be easily detectable by just listening to the sounds.
KH: How do you translate the soundscape results and analysis to real world actions?
EG: A very tangible outcome is we look to offer guidance to communities about whether the size of the conservation area that they are proposing would be big enough to retain all of the species that they care about in those forests so we look at the relationship between conservation area size and how intact the acoustic landscape is.
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