New Guinea Montane Forests

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A spider in it's web, Arfak Mountains, West Papua, Indonesia.
© WWF-Canon / Ian CRAVEN

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 4 terrestrial ecoregions: Vogelkop montane rain forests; Central Range montane rain forests; Huon Peninsula montane rain forests; and Southeastern Papuan rain forests.

New Guinea is the largest tropical island in the world, and contains an extraordinary diversity of ecosystems. It is an active tectonic area with a complex geologic history, which is represented by the presence of sandstone, limestone, and volcanic rocks.

Forests cover 65% of the land area and sustain many organisms found here and nowhere else. More than 6,000 species of plants, 44 species of birds, and 38 species of mammals enjoy the tropical wet climate of this ecoregion.

The Vogelkop montane rain forests are composed predominantly of tropical montane evergreen forest and tropical wet evergreen forest, with lesser amounts of tropical montane forest on limestone, limestone forest, and tropical semi-evergreen forest.

The Central Range montane forests contain some of the spectacular arrays of vascular plants and herpetofauna in Indo-Malaysia. It also has high endemism rates for mammals, birds, and vascular plants. Southeastern Papuan rain forests are extremely rich because of a diverse range of habitats including coastal, lowland, and montane.

Size:
288,000 sq. km (110,000 sq.miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
The island of New Guinea, north of Australia

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact
Local Species
Look out for fascinating small mammals such as the Doria's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus dorianus) - brown, furry marsupials with soft, yellow tails, the only member of the kangaroo family that climb trees, the striped bandicoot (Microperoryctes longicauda), long-tailed pygmy possum (Cercartetus caudatus), the endemic coppery ringtail (Pseudochirops cupreus), mountain cuscus (P. carmelitae), the endemic Telefomin horseshoe-bat (Hipposideros corynophyllus), and the long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni).

Echidnas are unusual egg-laying mammals that shuffle about searching for ants, termites, and other invertebrates, which they capture with their long tongues. Bird species include the king bird of paradise (Cicinnurus regius), the rare black sicklebill (Epimachus fastuosus), and the endemic blue bird of paradise (Paradisaea rudolphi). The Huon tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) is found nowhere else on Earth and is considered endangered.

Featured species

The Telefomin roundleaf bat is a brown, long-haired, medium-sized species of its type, with a long forearm and short tail.  It weighs approximately 16 g and its head-body length is slightly less than 60 mm (2.4 inches). Found in mountainous areas at altitudes from 1500 - 1800 m, this bat is exclusively a cave-dweller, roosting deep in limestone caves, and is insectivorous.  It is solitary or lives in small groups. Both males and females have been found in the same cave.

It is named after the Telefomin area of Papua New Guinea where this bat appears to be concentrated.  The name ‘horseshoe’ bat is derived from the fact that the lower part of the nose-leaf, which covers the upper lip and around the nostrils, is horseshoe-shaped.

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Threats
Logging, road construction, shifting cultivation, agricultural expansion, sawmilling and related livestock activities all threaten the integrity of these forests. Montane tree kangaroos are sensitive to over-hunting.

WWF’s work
WWF has a large programme based in Papua New Guinea dating back to 1990 when the South Pacific Programme was established in the region. PNG was the first country in the world to adopt the WWF ecoregions as the basis for its environmental planning systems, which it termed Conservation Planning Regions. WWF works closely with PNG's Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) on its national planning framework for biodiversity strategy and action planning, ensuring the necessary resources are in place to implement sustainable use and managed protection programmes.

The government has insufficient resources to support widespread wetland conservation and sustainable use programmes. WWF is currently the only NGO in the region addressing freshwater conservation at country and major catchment level. WWF PNG's Freshwater Programme is now underway with strong links to WWF’s Forests, Marine and Species.

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 / ©: WWF-Canon / Ian CRAVEN
Hatams are unrestricted for traditional hunting with bow & arrow. This man has caught a Vogelkop tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus ursinus). Arfak Mountains Nature Reserve, West Papua, Indonesia.
© WWF-Canon / Ian CRAVEN

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