About the Project
The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program uses a community-based strategy to document the natural history and conservation status of tree kangaroos through scientific research and interviews with local landowners and villagers. The program identifies and maps critical habitat; expands health care for villagers including vaccinations and midwife training; improves schools through support of teachers and curriculum development; implements and maintains conservation education programs; and empowers local villages to manage natural resources by training Papua New Guinea university students and local landowners as field research assistants and conservation advocates.
The Papua New Guinea Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program is based at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, and has offices in Lae, Papua New Guinea and Cairns, Australia. Under the direction of Dr. Lisa Dabek, a National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program grantee, the program has been working in Papua New Guinea since 1996. Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program works in close partnership with Conservation International and other conservation organizations and universities in Papua New Guinea and throughout the world. A major funder for this field initiative is the German Ministry for Environment (BMU) and its International Climate Initiative, managed in cooperation with the German Development Bank (KfW).
Papua New Guinea, particularly the Huon Peninsula, is considered a high-priority area for conservation efforts due to the significant amount of intact rain forest, high species endemism and lack of protected areas for wildlife. Destruction of the rain forest by mining, logging, and development threatens the continued existence of Papua New Guinea’s unique fauna and flora, including the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei), a flagship species for Papua New Guinea’s people.
It is estimated that close to 80% of Papua New Guinea citizens rely directly on the environment for sustenance, and over 95% of the country’s land remains in customary clan ownership. Consequently, the people of Papua New Guinea have a unique opportunity to chart a course towards stewardship of their natural resources—a movement that is intrinsically connected to their present and future self-sufficiency, dignity and self-empowerment. The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program works towards this goal in a region of the Huon Peninsula known as the YUS area, named for its three main rivers: Yopno, Uruwa and Som. As an international community-based program, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program works with Papua New Guinea village landowners and families, university students and faculty, government officials and many Non-Government Organizations. Investment in communities has fostered trust in Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program and its goals, and has been vital to the development of conservation awareness in local communities.
The 2009 Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program goals include:
- Create the first officially recognized Conservation Area (CA) on the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea.
- Establish a Community-Based Organization, the YUS Conservation Organization, which provides long-term management for the CA and improves the livelihood opportunities of the local communities.
- Support long-term management and financial sustainability of the YUS Conservation Organization.
- Facilitate ecological and social monitoring of the CA and promote scientific research.
- Build local capacity to address conservation, education, healthcare, and other community needs.
- Disseminate lessons learned through a global network to support community-based conservation and act as a model for other conservation programs.
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Listen: Explorer Interviews
Listen to Nat Geo Explorer Interviews
Fascinating Conversations From Our Weekly Radio Show—Nat Geo Weekend
00:11:00 Bob Ballard
Boyd heads out of the studio to join National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Bob Ballard aboard his vessel the E/V Nautilus. Currently in Turkey, Ballard tells Boyd about the many shipwrecks he is finding in the Mediterranean. You can follow Ballard and his team, live as they explore the ocean at www.nautiluslive.org.
00:06:00 Valerie Clark
National Geographic grantee Valerie Clark licks frogs for a living. As Clark tells Boyd, she’s not looking for Prince Charming. Instead, she is studying how the diet of frogs in Madagascar relates to the toxicity of their skin.
00:11:00 Lee Berger Audio
National Geographic grantee and paleoanthropologist Lee Berger has been searching for the fossils of human ancestors, but it was his 9-year-old son who stumbled upon the find of a lifetime: a partial skeleton that may very well change our understanding of the genus Homo.
00:07:59 Brad Norman
Some go swimming with dolphins or stingrays, Brad Norman, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and marine conservationist, talks about swimming with the largest fish in the world: the whale shark. Norman speaks with Boyd about his research concerning whale shark habitats, tracking and conservation.
00:11:00 Losang Rabgey
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Losang Rabgey has found her life's work in strengthening rural communities on the Tibetan plateau, which includes building schools to educate local students. Rabgey joins Boyd with updates on the successful work of Machik, the non-profit she founded and now directs.
00:11:00 Dereck and Beverly Joubert
National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert capture astounding images of African wildlife in their beautiful films. The Jouberts live in the African bush alongside the lions and other animals they profile. They explain to Boyd that, because big cats are in such danger, their work is now focused on conservation projects such as the Cause an Uproar program.
00:11:00 Nathan Wolfe
National Geographic Emerging Explorer and virus hunter Nathan Wolfe says there is a disease pandemic lurking just around the corner. But, we can prepare ourselves. Wolfe says there are even ways to harness and use the power of viruses. Wolfe joins Boyd to talk about his new book, The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age, which is changing the way we think about viruses.
00:09:00 Joshua Ponte Audio
National Geographic Emerging Explorer Joshua Ponte was a successful young English entrepreneur when, over breakfast one morning, his eye fell on a newspaper ad that said "Gorilla Reintroduction Program, Gabon." His life has never been the same since. Pursuing his passion for conservation, Ponte moved to a central African forest where 13 orphaned gorillas were being studied. Boyd talks with Ponte about the joys and dangers of raising young gorillas.
00:11:00 Wade Davis
How did the death and destruction of World War One lead young British climbers to attempt an epic conquest of Mount Everest? National Geographic Explorer in Residence Wade Davis answers that question in his new book “Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest.” Davis joins Boyd in the studio to chat about the book.
00:11:00 Sylvia Earle
National Geographic Explorer in Residence Sylvia Earle has been deeper undersea than any other woman. Earle is an oceanographer, explorer, author, lecturer, field scientist, and an inspiration to women around the world. She recently received the Royal Geographic Society’s 2011 Patron’s Medal. Boyd talks to Earle about some of her early dives in the Jim Suit.
00:11:00 Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner(blurb here)
00:08:00 Bruce Bachand
Many people picture archaeology as the swashbuckling adventure portrayed in the Indiana Jones trilogy. But in reality, it can be much more tedious than discovering the Holy Grail and fighting Nazis. National Geographic grantee Bruce Bachand has been meticulously sewing a 3,000 bead necklace back together in Mexico after discovering a pre-Olmec burial site that housed a tribal chief and his wife, undisturbed for several centuries.
00:09:00 Catherine Jaffee
Turkey is famed for its honey, which is music to Boyd's ears—he has a notorious sweet tooth. He visited National Geographic grantee Cat Jaffee, a beekeeper who left her job in Washington, D.C. to make honey in rural Turkey. She says that bees harvest pollen from their surroundings: the best honey comes from bees with natural surroundings, large meadows, rather than urban environments. Most people, Jaffee says, eat honey that is basically a synthetic mix of sugars from all over the world.
00:09:00 Elizabeth Lindsey
Most of human history existed before the advent of GPS technologies that can pinpoint where we are at any time. National Geographic Fellow and ethnonavigation expert, Elizabeth Lindsey has taken it upon herself to understand what it was like for Polynesian explorers to colonize tiny, remote islands across the south Pacific Ocean. To better appreciate the skills it takes to study the clouds and winds in search of land, Lindsey plans to join a team of Polynesian women who are island-hopping using traditional methods: no GPS, no cellphones and no compass.
00:11:00 Lucy Cooke