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GeoStory Camps - Lovongai

In partnership with the Lovongai community.

The GeoStory Camps - Lovongai were carried out in the New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea, with the Lovongai Indigenous community in March-April 2023.  From 2006, the island has seen a civil war across the twelve different Indigenous clans, stemming from land disputes exacerbated by extractive companies (logging and mining) who have practiced inadequate (or non-existent) consent processes. With 7+ different clans represented, the GeoStory Camp was the first joint project since the civil war.

People's Planet Project has partnered with Ailan Awareness (the representative organization of the Lovongai community). With little government intervention and no programs aiding the peace process, Ailan Awareness is the primary leader of traditional peace-building initiatives. Recently, the organization has seen inspiring success in collaboration across clans, with 16 participants attending an intensive month-long filmmaking and GIS mapping workshop. This project includes 16 people who have been identified as potential future community leaders, and those who are equipped with the skills to begin Indigenous-led documentation.

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Lovongai's biodiversity

Bismarck seascape coral triangle.

Due to its remote location, the Lovongai island is one of the most unspoiled and biologically diverse place in the world. Home to twelve different Indigenous clans, Lovongai has a rich and thriving spiritual, expressive, and lingual culture.

Lovongai’s surrounding ocean forms part of the Bismarck Seascape, a cornerstone of the Coral Triangle, which contains more than 75% of known coral species and 3,000+ species of reef-associated fish.

In the past, the elders of communities across this island exercised the right to manage resources through a variety of traditional measures that demonstrate a local understanding of conservation practices. Currently, local Indigenous resource management and traditional practices are being eradicated by national policies that priorities foreign extractive industry, however communities across the island are pushing for Indigenous rights and land attainment to manage their marine and terrestrial resources.

Videography and cartography combined. 


Participants of the GeoStory Camp started to learn a variety of technological, media, and narrative skills through different modules covering the basics of filmmaking including storyboarding, producing shotlists, and other pre-production activities. Following the first days, students started to learn the important functions of a 4k video camera and supporting equipment. 


Participants learn how filmmaking tools, such as interviews, B-roll or drone footage and spatial data, can be used to strengthen Indigenous rights claims and serve as powerful evidence in court against deforestation. By the end of the GeoStory Camp, Lovongai participants produced and edited a short video covering a social topic of their choice using Adobe Premiere. We also facilitated lessons on operating a drone, collecting B-roll footage, and delved into activities focused on ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and other technical skills to create professional film content.

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GIS mapping 

Cartography and videography combined. 

The cartography students started to learn basic mapping skills, including the use of GPS devices and spatial databases, and understand their use through documenting lines, boundary area (polygons), location of traditional houses (waypoints) and shoreline erosion (graphic buffer). 


This has been foundational for the remaining lessons as participants started to learn the use of ArcGIS mapping software to create a base map and digitized maps to define their territories and map land change and shoreline erosion over time. 

Participants became confident in using ArcGIS, as well as Excel, as an advanced process of data collection and map creation. We saw engagement from women: two women in the GIS mapping group (the most female engagement we have seen in GIS mapping across all GeoStory Camps delivered so far). We see this as success in the context of Papua New Guinea and the country’s gender norms.

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Impact in numbers

The change we want to see.


Lovongai members are trained in filmmaking


Lovongai members are

trained in geospatial mapping


Hectares of forest within the Lovongai territory will be preserved through litigation

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Evidence-based storytelling 

The fight for climate justice continues.

Phase I : Skill-based 

As the GeoStory Camps include different interwoven methodologies, it is therefore initiated in different phases. The first phase is structured through a skill-based curriculum covering the basics of filmmaking and geospatial mapping. Currently this stage has been finalized in the Lovongai island, with the Lovongai Indigenous community. 

Litigation phase

The finished film and mapping content created by the Indigenous participants of the GeoStory Camps will be used as proof of evidence in court cases to protect Indigenous land with the help of local environmental lawyers. Following the lead of the partner Indigenous communities, we help identify the parameters and goals of the legal case to be started. We support in gathering and filling out paperwork, and ensuring all the film and mapping content is powerful and relevant.

Phase II: Evidence-based 

The second phase continues with an advanced workshop, which provides context to the previously learned film and geospatial mapping through evidence-gathering techniques and local human rights and environmental law. This phase is structured through a human rights toolkit, which links filmmaking and mapping to human rights in concrete terms. It provides participants with the key rights through which storylines can be defined to create impactful evidence-based stories that tie directly back to the Indigenous rights and claims that have been violated. 


Successful court cases that use film and mapping content created during the GeoStory Camps and after by GeoStory Camps participants will preserve around 118,000 hectares of forest and marine resources within the Lovongai Indigenous territory. 

Project progress 

Seedlings sprouted. 

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Phase I

Phase II



Working group

Indigenous-led multi-stakeholder working group. 

Together with our local partner, Ailan Awareness, we have established an Indigenous-led multi-stakeholder working group. This working group will lay the basis for the remaining phases of the project that endeavors to find the best strategy to use the skills in mapping and videography as effective and successful tools to be used in future litigation. Through this community organizing framework with clear community leaders, participants developed a thorough and clear plan of action for the coming year, built around the documentation and mapping of clan areas and conservation sites, Indigenous land and coastal conservation management, inter-clan peace-building, and land titling.


The working groups consist of multiple stakeholders and experts within the realm of filmmaking, geospatial mapping, environmental and criminal law and Indigenous leaders who are able to work on even footing and will assure that the introduction of film and spatial technologies unfolds in a truly participatory manner, that the content produced will successfully serve as evidence in courts against environmental destruction, and that the impact process is being continuously assessed and monitored.  People's Planet Project acts as a backbone support organization for this working group. 

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Monitoring, evaluation, and learning

We learn as we grow.

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Monitoring, Evaluation, & Learning

GeoStory Camps - Lovongai


Local Partner

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Ailan Awareness 

Funding Partners


Weeden Foundation

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F5 Tech For Good

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