Sign up for our Free email Newsletter
and get all the latest wildlife news!

Browse Old Articles


Papua New Guinea declares first National Conservation Area to protect tree kangaroos

22/04/2009 14:05:06

A juvenile Matschie's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei), which is listed as an Endangered species by the IUCN, in the tropical forest of the newly created YUS Conservation Area of Papua New Guinea. Copyright: CI/ photo by Russell A. Mittermeier.

Villagers Pledge Land to Protect Tropical Forest Habitat of Tree Kangaroos

April 2009. A recent landmark decision by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government to approve the Conservation Area has come to fruition with the declaration of the YUS Conservation area.

Named for its three main rivers - the Yopno, Uruwa and Som - the YUS Conservation Area covers 187,800 acres (76,000 hectares or 760 square kilometres) of tropical forest stretching from coral reefs off the northern coast to the 4,000-metre peaks of the western Saruwaged Mountains.

Huon (or Matschie's) tree kangaroos
A hallmark of modern conservation, the newly protected area offers multiple benefits for both wildlife and people. The lush forest ecosystem teems with life and provides countless resources that sustain the 10,000 villagers living in the surrounding YUS region. In particular, the forest is critical habitat for Huon (or Matschie's) tree kangaroos, an Endangered species that is one of Earth's unique creatures with a bear-like head, strong arms for climbing and marsupial pouch.

"By creating the country's first national conservation area, the PNG government and people have taken a step forward for both Papua New Guinea and conservation worldwide," says Environment Minister Benny Allen. "I congratulate the YUS community and its partners on their efforts and hope others will follow their example."

Yawan village has a high-altitude waterfall supplying its fresh water from the tropical forest of the newly declared YUS Conservation Area of Papua New Guinea. Copyright: CI/photo by Bruce Beehler.

Yawan village has a high-altitude waterfall supplying its fresh water from the tropical forest of the newly declared YUS Conservation Area of Papua New Guinea. Copyright: CI/photo by Bruce Beehler.

Ban on hunting, logging and mining
While the land remains under local ownership, villagers have formally committed to prohibit all hunting and development such as logging and mining within the land that has been pledged to the conservation area. Previous declarations of Wildlife Management Areas in PNG have been less restrictive, allowing logging, mining and other development activities.

Woodland Park Zoo and CI understand that conservation should address the needs of the local people as well as protecting habitat and species, so are working with community leaders to increase access to education, college scholarships, teacher training, health clinic improvements, midwife training, and other investments to support sustainable and healthy village life.

"The conservation area will help the people of YUS better manage their natural resources," said Karau Kuna, Jr, a PNG national and GIS Mapping Coordinator for TKCP. "The YUS Conservation Area is part of PNG's contribution to the worldwide community in the fight against global warming and other environmental issues we are all facing."

Partners in the years of effort that culminated in creation of the YUS Conservation Area include the YUS communities, TKCP and its international staff, CI, the Morobe Provincial government, PNG National Executive Council and PNG Department of Environment and Conservation. TKCP and CI will continue to work with the PNG government and local communities to seek creation of additional conservation areas in the country, using the YUS Conservation Area as a model.

Woodland Park Zoo's Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) has worked with YUS landowners and the PNG government for more than 12 years to establish the YUS Conservation Area, which is the first to be declared under the PNG Conservation Areas Act of 1978. TKCP is supported by CI, National Geographic, and BMU (German Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety) through KfW (German Development Bank) as part of the International Climate Change Initiative. The new protected area also represents the first time that more than 35 indigenous villages of the YUS region have come together in joint action to protect their forest homeland and the wildlife and ecosystems so vital to their culture and sustenance.

Courtesy of Conservation International

Aerial view of the tropical forest carpeting the newly declared YUS Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea.

Copyright: CI/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier


Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

To post a comment you must be logged in.

New user? Register here


Click join and we will email you with your password. You can then sign on and join the discussions right away.