Lush mangrove wetlands? Check. Alpine grasslands? Present. How about extinct volcanoes? They’re here too, along with vast plateaus and great rivers.
Kikori, a land of plentyThe Kikori Basin is all that, a river catchment area with a dizzying range of landscapes features that make for a complex identity.
Stretching over almost 23,300 km2 in Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Southern Province, this vast area ranges from sea level to over 3,000 m in altitude. It is remote from urban centres, densely forested but sparsely populated, with an intricate system of rivers but very few roads to talk about.
The Kikori Basin’s wide range of ecosystems is particularly broad because of the altitude range. In tropical contexts, there is usually limited altitudinal and habitat variation.
Here, with increasing altitude, both animal and plant species diversities decrease, to produce the striking contrast between the luxuriant growth of the lowland rainforest where species diversity is highest, to the scant, slow-growing vegetation of the high plateau where trees are stunted or absent.