Conserving unique biodiversity in Papua New Guinea

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PNG_Elodie_VanLierde00220
Mount Wilhelm National Park, PNG
Conserving unique biodiversity in Papua New Guinea
Elodie VanLierde/WCS

Objective 

To reduce deforestation and conserve the biodiversity within a 45,000 ha section of the Bismarck Range by promoting improved agricultural techniques, community management of forest resources and reforestation.

Project description

The Bismarck Range mountains support richly biodiverse Papua New Guinea oak and beech forest, and are home to the Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo (an Endangered species) and many bird of paradise species.

However, the expansion of agriculture is driving forest loss. Although commercial scale industrial agriculture has not yet penetrated into the mountainous heart of Papua New Guinea, population growth is driving the expansion of smallholder agriculture, resulting in forest loss. The Daulo district and much of the Bismarck Range are the most vulnerable portions of Eastern Highlands forest due to their comparative small size and the gradual loss of forest cover from the surrounding lowlands. Maintaining connectivity across the Bismarck Range to Mt Wilhelm is of critical ecological importance for the long term conservation of the region’s biodiversity. Yet very little of the existing forest land has any formal protection, so the stewardship of PNGs forest resources is in the hands of the rural communities at the forest frontier.

This project uses four strategies to restore trees and forests.

  • Enrichment planting of degraded natural forest, using native forest tree species to restore degraded montane forest ecosystem functions, water catchment protection, and create a future resource of high value timber
  • Planting native trees in riparian areas for the protection of water courses, attract wildlife, and yield useful products such as nuts, fruits and edible leaves
  • Rehabilitation of degraded land, through the planting of nitrogen-fixing species which help to restore soil quality to degraded agricultural land
  • Creation of community woodlots to provide an alternative, high quality, source of timber for community construction

Restoration target

The Government of Papua New Guinea has recently highlighted the priority of piloting forest restoration activities in Eastern Highlands and Chimbu provinces[1]. WCS is working with four community groups in the Bismarck Range where restoration activities are underway. Community level land-use planning is conducted with community members to identify and map areas suitable for forest restoration. The planning exercises completed to date suggest there are over 1000 hectares of community land with potential for restoration, where the community members are keen to engage with WCS to plant trees and bring back forests.


[1] https://www.thenational.com.pg/png-plans-to-plant-10mil-trees/
forest degradation
PNG tree nursery
tree kangaroo
PNG tree planting
Kwiop community
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Image credits: Elodie VanLierde/WCS