The Future Indigenous Guardians of Science (FIGS) Club is an afterschool science and environmental education program for the youth of Wanang Conservation Area (WCA). 20 years ago WCA turned to conservation after rejecting loggers. Since then research at WCA has brought sustainable development for the whole village. Each year the FIGS Club will lay the foundations for 30 Wanang youth to pursue careers as local research assistants and conservationists bringing personal and community development.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) contains 5% of the world's biodiversity, but unfortunately this is disappearing quickly. Most conservation areas here are community led because 97% of land is owned by indigenous groups. The Wanang Community support research as a way of funding conservation, but this innovative development model relies on community training. The FIGS Club will provide the next generation of local research assistants with all the skills they need to protect and understand their forests.
The FIGS Club teaches science and technology in a fun and engaging after school program. The students will go on guided forest walks with scientists and local research assistants, carry out biodiversity surveys and learn how to identify plants, insects, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. They will have lessons on using scientific and conservation equipment including Computers, GPS trackers, Cameras, and Biodiversity Monitoring Equipment.
Each year 30 FIGS Club graduates will have new skills needed for research and conservation. They will be gifted a rare opportunity for rural communities in PNG, a chance to pursue a career offering huge personal development. In turn, each individual success story drives community development. For two decades this work has sustained the community and brought substantial benefits such as schools, medical care, vehicles and electricity. The FIGS Club helps secure the future of Science in Wanang.