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Papua New Guinea declares first national conservation area
Date:3/2/2009

land Park Zoo's Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP), with support from CI and National Geographic, has worked with PNG landowners and the PNG government for more than 12 years to establish the YUS Conservation Area, which is the first to be declared under the PNG Conservation Areas Act of 1978. The new protected area also represents the first time the more than 35 indigenous villages of the region have come together in joint action to protect their forest homeland and the wildlife and ecosystems so vital to their culture and sustenance.

While the land remains under local ownership, villagers have formally committed to prohibit all hunting and development such as logging and mining within the conservation area. Previous declarations of wildlife management areas in PNG have been less restrictive, allowing logging, mining and other destructive activities. Protecting the tropical forests of the YUS Conservation Area will prevent the estimated 13 million tons of carbon stored in the forest biomass from being released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

"This new conservation area shows how much good can be accomplished when governments and people work together," said CI President Russell A. Mittermeier, who visited the area last year. "Congratulations to Papua New Guinea and the communities of the YUS region for protecting such essential ecosystems and all the benefits they provide. Hopefully, other tropical forest nations will follow this example of simultaneously combating climate change and conserving the ecosystems on which people depend, and the international community will embrace a climate change treaty that compensates the carbon sequestration value of such protected forests."

Conserving PNG's biodiversity is complex, due to the country's unique social and geo-political circumstances. PNG has a land tenure system whereby nearly all the rural land is owned by clans and local landowners. Under Dabek's leadership, TKCP has gained
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Contact: Tom Cohen
tcohen@conservation.org
703-341-2729
Conservation International
Source:Eurekalert

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