The island country of Papua New Guinea is rife with tropical rainforests and considered to be one of the last places on Earth where the majority of these vast landscapes remain intact and untouched by deforestation. In the eastern part of the country, the Huon Peninsula’s rainforests and adjacent shores are home to some of the most biodiverse ecosystems and unique species in the country, including the Endangered Huon Tree-kangaroo (also known as the Matschie’s Tree-kangaroo).
These woolly, chestnut-colored kangaroos have evolved to live in the dense tree canopy of the area’s mountainous cloud forests. Unfortunately, untouched forests in the region are a high profile target for palm oil and timber companies, threatening the limited range of habitat the Tree-kangaroo needs to survive.
Rainforest Trust’s local partner, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP-PNG), has been working for over 20 years to ensure the survival of this, and many other imperiled species in the region. In 2009, TKCP-PNG and indigenous landowners established the YUS Conservation Area, the country’s first-ever nationally-recognized protected area.
Years later in 2016, TKCP-PNG recognized the need for expansion as threats to the region increased and teamed up with Rainforest Trust on a four-year project to increase the size of the protected area. And just last month our efforts were successful–– the YUS Conservation Area now protects 401,998 acres of threatened rainforest.
In addition to the Huon Tree-kangaroo, the Eastern Long-beaked Echidna, New Guinea Pademelon, New Guinea Quoll all benefit from this protection. Three endemic Birds-of-paradise––the Emperor Bird-of-paradise, Wahnes’s Parotia, and Huon Astrapia–– can also be found in the reserve. Additionally, the protected beaches adjoining these forests are homes to Leatherback Sea Turtles and Dugongs.
This project is completely dependent on the local indigenous communities. With 50 remote villages in and around the protected area, the only way to create lasting protection was in accordance with the people who know these forests best. Indigenous landowners and community members will monitor and guard the reserve, safeguarding resident species in perpetuity.
This project is a huge success, not only for Rainforest Trust, TKCP-PNG and the local communities, but for the future of conservation efforts in Papua New Guinea. And by conserving hundreds of acres of intact rainforest, you have helped store 42,606,349 metric tonnes of carbon in the Earth, which will help stabilize the global climate and keep our planet healthy.