Since 1996, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) has been working with local indigenous communities and government partners in the Yopno-Uruwa-Som (YUS) watershed of the Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea, to establish a community conservation area. The YUS conservation area provides crucial protection for pristine forests, critical habitat for the Matschie’s Tree-kangaroo. As indigenous communities own and control the use of land throughout YUS, the effectiveness of the YUS Conservation Area relies heavily upon the continued commitment of landowners, and the positive community perception of conservation. This includes, but is not limited to, harvesting of wildlife using sustainable practices.
With Taronga’s support, 13 YUS Conservation Area Rangers conducted 7-day patrols each month from January to April 2016 to record the presence/absence of key species and to look for signs of illegal human activities within the protected area. To raise the rangers’ profile and gain support from their communities, the team has even received new uniforms, head lamps and ID cards!
The rangers are also receiving training in Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tools (SMART) to improve methods for data collection, analysis, and on how to apply the findings in patrol planning. The overall aim is to allow effective decision-making for the YUS Conservation Area, whilst providing greater insight into the localized occurrence and abundance of target species.
Another great achievement for the team was the award of the 2016 Whitley Award to one of the project’s managers – Karau Kuna in recognition of his outstanding and innovative conservation work facilitating sustainable resource management through land-use planning with the communities of YUS conservation area. The Whitley award is a prestigious international nature conservation prize.