In the centre of the Coral Triangle lies Kawasan Konservasi Perairan Kepulauan Raja Ampat (the Raja Ampat Islands Marine Conservation Area), a network of protected areas within the Bird’s Head Seascape of Indonesia. Established to conserve the heart of global biodiversity in West Papua, it currently includes seven marine protected areas (MPAs) spread across the Archipelago of over 1400 islands.
In shallow waters, the network protects vast and diverse fringing, barrier, patch, and atoll reefs that contain at least 488 species, representing 75% of coral species known worldwide. An extensive variety of branch corals, hard corals and soft corals create the perfect habitat for marine life to thrive. More than 1000 fish species roam around the corals forming brightly coloured aggregations including parrotfish, tangs, and rainbow runners. Dense schools of snappers, sweetlips and barracuda hang in the current whilst tunas and sharks cruise by.
In addition to the expansive reefs, some of the MPAs contain mangrove forests that provide crucial habitat for juvenile fish and macroinvertebrates such as snails, crabs, and shrimps. Vast seagrass beds gently follow the seascape’s bathymetry until deeper water. Here, in the deep channels between islands, the network protects a variety of unique deep-sea habitats, including seamounts, pinnacles, and undersea canyons.
The Raja Ampat network is strongly linked to the local indigenous communities, which are spread across more than 100 villages in the Archipelago. The local communities have traditional ownership rights over the territory, and the MPA network integrates traditional management practices such as Sasi, traditional spatial and temporal closures determined by the local community to allow for ecosystem recovery. Local community members monitor fishing practices together with the official patrol team, and the MPA Management Authority is primarily comprised of local personnel. Moreover, money made from the tourism entrance fees not only goes towards conservation and management funds but to the needs of each respective village, thus highlighting the strong collaborative spirit between conservation and community.
Kawasan Konservasi Perairan Kepulauan Raja Ampat
- Award Year
- Western Papua Provincial Government, Maritime and Fisheries Service, Technical Implementation Unit
- 13,550 km²
- Other Awards and Designations