Our Program


The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) began in 1996 as a conservation research study to determine the status of the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo. One of Papua New Guinea’s longest-running and most successful conservation efforts, TKCP works with local communities to establish and manage the YUS Conservation Area (YUS CA), named for the Yopno, Uruwa, and Som rivers, in Morobe Province. A Category VI IUCN Protected Area, the YUS CA is the first and only protected area of its type in PNG –providing protection at the landscape scale, wholly owned by local people, and with the support of the PNG Government for long-term protection. The Matschie’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) remains the flagship species for the overall conservation program, while TKCP has expanded to support the needs of the wildlife, habitat, and communities throughout YUS. The YUS Landscape, consisting of land pledged for conservation as well as buffer areas of mixed use, encompasses over 158,000 hectares (390,000 acres) ranging from coastal reefs to 4,000-meter peaks. Nearly 70% of the YUS landscape is covered by a large unbroken tract of rainforest and home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna.

TKCP’s community-based strategy helps provide benefits and improve the standard of living for the more than 12,000 people in 50 villages throughout YUS. Indigenous landowners and community members participate in TKCP’s work, including scientific research, land mapping, education, health, sustainable livelihoods, and conservation outreach activities. Under PNG’s unique land tenure system, more than 90% of all land in the country is held and controlled by customary landowners. As such, the sustainability of the YUS CA depends upon the commitment of the local landowners. TKCP is truly about empowering the local stewards of the environment.



Papua New Guinea is host to an estimated 5% of the Earth's species within some of the world's most unique and biologically diverse ecosystems. The country is home to approximately 20,000 plant species, more than 700 bird species, and more than 230 mammal species, many of which are found only on the island of New Guinea




Defined together with communities and landowners, the five strategies of the YUS Landscape Plan guide the conservation and socioeconomic development efforts of TKCP and our partners to ensure the sustainable health and prosperity for the living YUS landscape, its biodiversity, people, and culture.


Managing the YUS Conservation Area

TKCP works alongside government and community partners through the Conservation Area Management Committee (CAMC) to manage the YUS Conservation Area. Conservation Area Rangers conduct patrols and ecological monitoring, and check for violations within the YUS CA. Core protected areas are mapped by Mapping Officers. Local communities are informed and engaged in the protection of the YUS Conservation Area.

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Applying Our Research

A broad range of research topics are investigated by TKCP, partners, and outside researchers to inform the direction of conservation efforts across the YUS landscape. In addition to TKCP’s ongoing studies of tree kangaroo home range and behavior, other research studies examine ecological and social questions to assess needs, define responses, evaluate impact, and contribute to the global scientific knowledge of the species, ecosystems, and anthropology of YUS.

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Planning for a Sustainable Future

Protecting the biodiversity and habitat of YUS requires coordinated commitment and action across the entire landscape, both in and around the Conservation Area. To sustain the needs of local communities, the natural resources and services provided by the environment beyond the protected area must be maintained for the benefit of current and future generations. Managing the responsible use of the forest products, wildlife, and water in these areas will ensure the YUS communities’ continued commitment to protecting the YUS Conservation Area.

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Supporting the Communities

The people of YUS rely on the natural environment for their day-to-day needs. TKCP works with communities to address their need for sustainable livelihoods, access to health, education, and skills training. In partnership with the government, businesses, and other NGOs, TKCP builds connections to provide YUS communities with alternative opportunities which build local resilience and reduce the threat of short-term financial gain through large-scale resource extraction.

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Operating the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program

The YUS conservation initiative attracts substantial worldwide attention and support. Managing such a program requires robust planning, administrative capacity, and highly competent staff. TKCP remains committed to building the resources and staff capabilities to maintain long-term support for the landscape and people of YUS.

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The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program was awarded the prestigious United Nations Equator Prize in recognition of its holistic, community-led approach to habitat conservation.