Tree-kangaroo Conservation Program
Zoos Victoria is partnering with Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, USA, Papua New Guinea communities and the Papua New Guinea Government to support the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program.
The community-based recovery program is based on the remote Huon Peninsula on the north-eastern coast of Papua New Guinea, the only place in the world where the Matschie’s Tree-kangaroo is found. This species of tree-kangaroo has suffered a marked decline from hunting and habitat loss, prompting research which began in 1996. The species is currently classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with a total wild population of just over 2,000 individuals.
The forests of the island of New Guinea comprise one of only three large areas of remaining tropical forest in the world and are identified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a biodiversity hotspot, rich in unique flora and fauna that requires protection.
The country’s wildlife and its people face growing threats from unregulated development, particularly logging and mining; high levels of poverty; limited access to health and education; and the absence of sustainable alternative incomes.
Protecting PNG’s magnificent communities and wildlife
On the Huon Peninsula, the Tree-kangaroo Conservation Program is addressing these pressures through combining local community development with biodiversity conservation. Local communities have partnered with the program to establish PNG’s first ever Conservation Area called YUS – named after the area's three main rivers and their local communities (Yopno, Uruwa and Som) working together to protect the land and wildlife, including halting further decline of the Matschie’s Tree-kangaroo.
The Recovery Program
The Program’s mission is to “foster wildlife and habitat conservation and support local communities in Papua New Guinea through global partnerships, land protection and scientific research”. It is a world-leading example of culturally-sensitive biodiversity conservation through sustainable community development and enhancing local skills and knowledge.
How are we helping?
Zoos Victoria has partnered with the Tree-kangaroo Conservation Program to enable delivery of the YUS Conservation Coffee Project as a key element of the Community Livelihoods Program. This eco-social project allows farmers to access sustainable agricultural projects that benefit both wildlife and people by securing land and generating a sustainable income for families; increasing their food security and access to health and education services. The program also emphasises the relationship between conservation coffee and wildlife conservation for local community members.
“I have seen tree kangaroos, cassowaries and lots of possums, and I am happy that my Sapun Clan made the right decision to pledge land to the YUS Conservation Area. My income from export of 50kg of coffee parchment beans last year supported my 3 kids in primary school and 2 kids attending high schools." (Fifu Kuyo, Saburong Village).
More coffee farmers means more protected land and increased protection for populations of tree-kangaroos, cassowaries, cuscus and many other species.
- More than 180,000ha of habitat protected
- The county’s first Conservation Area officially declared by the PNG Government in 2009 – 76,000ha
- 16 YUS Conservation Area Rangers appointed, trained and operating
- YUS Conservation Coffee Cooperative officially established with 620 registered farmers
- Almost 90 tons of coffee beans exported since 2011, including 10 tons into Australia in 2016
- Establishment of an Australian market for YUS Coffee through Jasper Coffee and facilitated by Zoos Victoria
- YUS Coffee on sale at Zoos Victoria as a retail item
- Junior Ranger program established for post-primary-aged youth, which has already strengthened participation and motivation of young people in upholding cultural values and conservation outcomes
- Local YUS Conservation Organisation established
PNG Departments of Environment & Conservation, and National Planning & Monitoring
Yopno, Uruwa and Som communities