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JAKARTA, Indonesia (August 31, 2000 – Indonesian Observer/Kabar-Irian)---The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has urged the West Papua (Irian Jaya) administration to ensure that development projects in the province do not harm the environment.

"WWF feels some development projects in the province do not pay much attention to the environment," WWF official August Ramansara was quoted as saying by Antara on Tuesday.

Citing an example, Ramansara said the construction of a road in the Cyclops Mountains Reserve, being handled by the provincial public works department, has badly damaged the environment.

He said the mountainous parts of West Papua are the main source of fresh water for people in various areas of the province.

The environmentalist warned that the plywood industry on Yapen Island has resulted in considerable destruction, even in a preservation site that is home to various species of birds of paradise.

He said if there are no efforts to prevent further environmental damage, the province will suffer from natural disasters in the future.

According to Ramansara, the government and local residents are largely responsible for protecting the environment.

However, he stressed, the provincial administration should exercise more prudence before giving official approval to development projects and forest management.

Four mammals

WWF researchers have spotted four mammal species living at a conservation site on Misool Island in West Papua’s Sorong district, Antara reported yesterday.

Also found in the area were 159 species of birds and 5 species of bats with large populations.

U.S. researcher Ronald G. Petocz listed the species in a report presented to West Papua’s provincial administration earlier this week.

The four indigenous mammals are the bandicoot (echymipere), flying opossum (petaurus breviceps), gray tree kangaroo (dendrolagus inustus), and the wallaby (dorcopsis veterum).

The 125,300 hectare (313,250 acre) preservation site is comprised of salty swamps, savannas and hills, and has the potential to become a tourist destination, said Petocz.

He said most of the area consists of hills with carbonate stone layers.

Misool Island is home to a mix of Oriental and Australian animals, he noted.

Apart from the 159 bird species, it is also home to small birds of paradise, red birds of paradise, and long-tailed birds of paradise, which cannot be found anywhere else.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

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