Traditional leadership and the structure of governance is critical for sustaining community conservation in Bougainville.
In February 2019, a roundtable discussion was conducted in the Kagalalo conservation area to bring community members, including chiefs, women, and youth to come together and talk about leadership and the role of women in conservation.
We found that storytelling was a powerful tool to raise education and awareness, not just about conservation and also other topics of economic and social interest. One of the critical findings we had was on the power of local language in transferring knowledge and ideas across communities. As part of the leadership training, we talked about the values of honesty, trustworthiness, accountability, responsibility, respect, and wisdom, and what they meant in the local vernacular.
With storytelling and use of local language, the chiefs were able to discuss leadership in ways that were aligned to the local culture and social context.
The Kagalalo conservation community is currently building its traditional governance systems so that the community leads in all conservation, research, and livelihood projects in the coming years.