Tree Kangaroos in Tambu Places

08 May 2013 | Fact sheet

YUS Conservation Area and Landscape, Papua New Guinea

Background

Located in the north-eastern corner of the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the YUS Landscape straddles multiple administrative boundaries, and is home to a culturally diverse population estimated at around 12,000, speaking six local languages and dialects in addition to English and Tok Pisin. Emerging from the Bismarck Sea, the landscape extends across a narrow coastal plain (2-5km) to foothills, and then rises over a distance of 40 kilometres to altitudes in excess of 4,000 metres in the Sarawaget Range. The Category VI Protected Landscape encompasses a forested core zone known as the “YUS Conservation Area”. Established in 2009, YUS is the first Conservation Area (CA) established in Papua New Guinea, and is named after the three rivers, the Yopno, Uruwa and Som, that start in the cold high mountain reaches of the Sarawaget Range, and flow out into the Bismarck Sea.

The YUS Landscape has significant conservation value. The rugged landscape is characterised by a low human population density (~6.2 people/km2) and a large unbroken tract of rainforest (both within and outside the core area, from zero to over 4,000 metres) that occupies 70 percent of the land area. Although difficult to quantify precisely, permanent human communities occupy around 6 percent of the landscape, and since no roads currently dissect or enter YUS, the landscape has been afforded some protection from large-scale development and resource extraction that threatens biodiversity nationally. The YUS Landscape, with its intact natural environment, fringed by a small human population, is therefore well positioned to conserve complete ecological communities for both biodiversity and utilitarian value.

The overall planning, management, oversight and reporting of activities across the YUS Landscape falls to a range of community and technical organisations and elected representative bodies. These include: the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Programme—PNG, YUS Conservation Organization, YUS Conservation Area Management Committee, and the Woodland Park Zoo from Seattle, USA, which provides technical oversight and long term managerial and financial support to the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Programme.

YUS is also becoming recognised regionally as a leader in protected area planning and management. Key programmes where YUS continues to lead the way at the site level include those in the areas of land use planning, ecological monitoring of hunted species, YUS rangers, management planning, carbon research and alternative livelihoods. The YUS Landscape Plan will be publically released in June 2013. The most comprehensive protected area management plan of its kind in PNG, the Landscape Plan is in both document and poster form, and is a first in the region.

View photos of the park

Size and Location

The YUS Landscape is located in the north-eastern corner of the Huon Peninsula in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The Landscape covers a total area of 158,271 hectares, which includes a forested core zone known as the “YUS Conservation Area”, totalling 78,729 hectares.

Flora and Fauna

Flora: The overall forest vegetation for the landscape falls within the Finisterre-Huon Forest classification that encompasses the Huon Peninsula. Vegetation analysis in 2011 showed that the landscape is made up of around 76% of pristine ecosystems – including tropical alpine grasslands and cloud forests. Detailed carbon analysis has also shown that the landscape currently stores around 44 million tons of carbon (the equivalent of 163.6 million tons of carbon dioxide) (Table 1).

YUS land cover class

Notes

Area in 2012 (ha)

% area of landscape

C density (t/ha)

Stored C (Mt)

Grassland; exposed soil; burned

Mostly anthropogenic, includes some scrub, exposed soil from erosion, bare gardens, burned areas and land slips.

28,535

18%

119

3.4

Gardens / regrowth forest

Mostly anthropogenic; no established canopy; includes gardens; includes wind and fire damaged forest; open canopy forest and dry scrub.

9,885

6%

226

2.2

Lowland rainforest

0 – 1,000m

26,360

17%

357

9.4

Montane rainforest

> 1,000m

84,952

54%

 

28.0

Lower montane rainforest

1,000 – 3,000m

73,390

46%

326

23.9

Cloud forest

> 3,000m

11,563

7%

358

4.1

 

Alpine grassland

 

Mean elevation 3,110m

 

8,540

 

5%

182

1.6

 

 

TOTAL

 

158,271

 

 

44.6

 

 

 

 

 

163.6

 

 

 

 

(Mt CO2 equivalent)

Fauna:

Extensive faunal research and biodiversity surveys have been, and continue to be, conducted across the landscape, and regular discoveries of species as yet unrecorded hint that much of the faunal biodiversity and ecology remains poorly understood. The YUS Landscape is home to 13 endangered or threatened species (Table 2).

Family

Latin / scientific name

English name

IUCN Status

Avian fauna

 

 

 

Casuariidae

Casuarius bennetti

Dwarf Cassowary

Near Threatened

Accipitridae

Harpyopsis novaeguineae

New Guinea Harpy Eagle

Vulnerable

Scolopacidae

Scolopax saturata

Javan Woodcock

Near Threatened

Psittacidae

Psittrichas fulgidus

Vulturine Parrot

Vulnerable

Paradisaeidae

Parotia wahnesi

Wahne's Parotia#

Vulnerable

Paradisaeidae

Paradisaea guilielmi

Emperor Bird of Paradise*

Near Threatened

Mammalian fauna

 

 

Tachyglossidae

Zaglossus bruijni

Western Long Beaked Echidna

Critically Endangered

Dasyuridae

Dasyurus albopunctatus

New Guinea Quoll

Near Threatened

Macropodidae

Dendrolagus matschiei

Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo*

Endangered

Macropodidae

Dorcopsulus vanheurni

Small Dorcopsis

Near Threatened

Macropodidae

Thylogale browni

New Guinea Pademelon

Vulnerable

Muridae

Paraleptomys rufilatus

Northern Water Rat

Endangered

Pseudocheiridae

Pseudochirops corinnae

Plush-coated Ringtail Possum

Near Threatened

Notes: * - endemic to Huon Peninsula; # - endemic to both Huon Peninsula and Adelbert Mountain Ranges.

Recent community surveys in the coastal zone have also highlighted the presence of additional threatened or endangered species. Extent, local status, home range, local use and actions in response to these identifications have yet to be developed. The species include:
 

  • Olive Ridley turtle, Lepidochelys olivacea, Vulnerable.
  • Green turtle, Chelonia mydas, Endangered.
  • Loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, Endangered
  • Leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, Critically Endangered.
  • Dugong, Dugong dugon, Vulnerable.

The ecosystems of the YUS Landscape are valuable as they serve to both mitigate and help adapt to climate change. The landscape contributes to mitigation by sequestering and storing carbon within natural ecosystems, and to adaptation by providing and maintaining ecosystem services vital for community development and wellbeing, and biodiversity conservation. The greatest enabling factors for YUS to contribute to mitigation and adaptation to climate change are the large intact contiguous tropical ecosystems.

Challenges

The richness of biodiversity in the YUS Conservation Area has led to the discovery of many threatened or endangered species. Understanding these species better and their role in the ecosystem is important for their future conservation. As much of the area is still undiscovered, it will need to be better researched and documented to arrive at solutions for its conservation. Though population density is low, providing solutions for sustainable community development remains a priority. Coordination between the various stakeholders and management groups also is important, with capacity development for better management an important goal.

Contact:: Mr. Ashley Brooks Ashley.brooks@treekangaroo.org