The Huon peninsula's landscape is a mosaic of human settlements, grasslands, agricultural gardens, fringing reefs and rainforest and encompasses an uninhabited forested core conservation zone, gazetted as the "YUS Conservation Area". This extensive forest is home to a rich faunal biodiversity, with 268 bird species including at least five endemic species and 44 mammal species, amongst which the endemic and endangered Matschie's Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei).
The main threats to endemic species are forest clearing and over-hunting, which are increasing as local human populations continue to rise. In many areas, there is an observed decrease in threatened species targeted by the project: in particular, the population of Matschie's Tree Kangaroos is now estimated to be fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, while the number of Western long-beaked Echidnas (Zaglossus bruijni) has decreased by over 80% over the last 10 years.
The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Programme (TKCP) has expanded from its initial species-specific conservation programme to one that also employs skilled local landowners while improving their livelihoods. TKCP indeed aims to create a healthy community of people who have the ability to help conserve the unique wildlife found on the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea.
TKCP developed a pioneering land-use planning programme, empowering local communities through local management groups who implement, monitor, and enforce the plans. Programmes include a teacher scholarship program placing a dozen teachers in remote YUS schools with Government salaries; a YUS health immunization initiative; a coffee programme that already has exported two premium, conservation coffee shipments to the United States; and a National model ecological monitoring programme utilizing the country's first Conservation Area Rangers (CA Rangers).
Desired outcomes include:
- A 5% increase in protected areas for targeted threatened species.
- More sustainable terrestrial and marine resource management by local people.
- Better prices for conservation-dependent commodities, mainly through a 25% sales increase of premium conservation coffee. Such support of community livelihoods will empower communities to protect the YUS CA ecosystem and the wildlife that uses it.
- Developing model mechanisms for monitoring and reporting and communicating on globally threatened species internationally.