Steps Toward Species and Habitat Protection
For more than a decade, TKCP has approached the goals of species and habitat protection through a community-based approach, involving local landowners in decision-making and providing communities with benefits. When determining what approach to take towards protection of the Matschie's tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei), the YUS landowners decided upon establishment of a Conservation Area on the Huon Peninsula.
A Conservation Area is the highest level of protection offered under PNG National law, where pledged land is protected from any form of resource extraction, including hunting, mining and logging. With a cultural history of reserving areas of the forest as "tambu" for spiritual reasons, the idea of setting aside a "wildlife bank" area for regeneration of tree kangaroo populations was particularly resonant with the landowners of YUS.
Establishment of the Yopno-Uruwa-Som Conservation Area
2009 was a landmark year in the history of TKCP. On January 9th, the PNG National Government officially declared the gazettal of the Yopno-Uruwa-Som (YUS) Conservation Area. This milestone achievement for TKCP was made possible by dedication of people of YUS, and working closely with partners such as Conservation International and the PNG National, Provincial and Local Governments.
The new protected area encompasses core land parcels pledged by clans to conservation and buffer areas of mixed use, covering an area of over 180,000 acres in and around the YUS Local Level Government. The protected area also extends from sea level to 4,000-meter mountain ranges, thus preserving a complete altitudinal spectrum of Huon Peninsula habitats. This altitudinal gradient is an important component for species conservation, as species migrate and their ranges change in response to global climate change.
With the YUS Conservation Area (YUSCA) now established, TKCP is focused on sustainable management of the CA, through developing plans and resources to guide monitoring, use and enforcement of the CA.
To this end, TKCP is focused on three major conservation program components (in collaboration with partners at Conservation International and James Cook University):
YUS CA Landscape Plan
Working with YUS landowners to develop a community based approach to protecting the YUS CA and the surrounding landscape by encouraging landowners to zone their property in a more ecologically sustainable way, while maintaining their cultural use of the land.
Mapping the boundaries of the land parcels pledged to the YUS Conservation Area with GIS analysis, combined with active encouragement for landowners to let sections of their property naturally return to a forested state.
Managing a group of community based Conservation Rangers in YUS to collect environmental data and enforce YUS CA rules.
YUS CA Endowment
Paving the way for long-term sustainable management of the YUS CA by establishing the YUS Conservation Endowment, which will provide a reliable source of funding to cover partial operating costs for the PNG-based NGO.