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The Raja Ampat Islands

In the Heart of the Coral Triangle

Cockatoo Leaffish, Raja Ampat - photo courtesy of friends of Pindito

The Raja Ampat, or Four Kings Archipelago encompasses more than 9.8 million acres of land and sea off the northwestern tip of Indonesia's West Papua Province.

The area includes the 4 large islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool, plus hundreds of smaller islands. The archipelago is part of an area known as the Bird's Head functional seascape, which also contains Cenderawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in Indonesia.

Located in the Coral Triangle, the heart of the world's coral reef biodiversity, the seas and dive sites around Raja Ampat are possibly the richest in the world. The area's massive coral colonies show that its reefs are resistant to threats like coral bleaching and disease - threats that now jeopardise the survival of corals around the world. In addition, strong ocean currents sweep coral larvae across the Indian and Pacific oceans to replenish other reef ecosystems. Raja Ampat's coral diversity, resilience, and ability to replenish reefs make it a global priority for marine protection.

Survey Confirms Highest Marine Biodiversity on Earth

In 2002, The Nature Conservancy and our partners conducted a scientific survey of the Raja Ampat Islands to collect information on its marine ecosystems, mangroves, and forests. The survey brought Raja Ampat's total number of confirmed corals to 537 species - an incredible 75% of all known coral species. In addition, 828 fish species were recorded, raising the known total for the area to an amazing 1,074. On land, the survey found lush forests, rare plants, limestone outcroppings, and nesting beaches for thousands of sea turtles. See the results from their more recent 2006 marine survey report.

Though human impacts here are less severe than elsewhere in Indonesia, Raja Ampat's natural resources are endangered by overfishing and destructive fishing, turtle poaching, and unsustainable logging. The Indonesian government recently established the region as a separate administrative unit, which will give communities a greater say in managing the natural resources upon which their livelihoods depend. This structure also offers an important opportunity to include conservation in the spatial planning of the newly formed local government.

Ensuring Conservation Through Partnerships

Dive the West Papua Province to see many different species of cardinalfish - photo courtesy of Richard Buxo

To address these issues, the Conservancy launched a new project to protect Raja Ampat, working in close partnership with the government and communities to:

  1. Contribute to a comprehensive conservation action plan to protect archipelago's reefs and forests;
  2. Help incorporate marine protected area management into long-term planning and policy; and,
  3. Establish a network of marine protected areas for the islands of Raja Ampat.

The Conservancy's ultimate goal is to protect these magnificent reefs while sustaining the livelihoods of local people.

For further information, please contact:

The Nature Conservancy
Coral Triangle Centre
Jalan Pengembak No. 2
Sanur, Bali, 80228
tel +62.361.287.272
fax +62.361.270.737
email | www.coraltrianglecenter.orgOpens in a new window |

The Nature Conservancy is a private, international, non-profit organization that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. To date, the Conservancy and its more than 1,000,000 members have been responsible for the protection of more than 14 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 80 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. On the web at

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