New Guinea

Few places on Earth rival the diversity of New Guinea. From dense tropical rainforest to coastal mangroves, the island is home to some of the world's most unique plants and animals. WWF's conservation efforts across this vast island are making a difference.

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The rainforests of New Guinea are the 3rd largest in the world after the Amazon and Congo. East Sepik, Papua New Guinea.
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF-UK

Biodiversity hotspot

After the Amazon and Congo, New Guinea is home to the 3rd largest rainforest in the world.

Shared by 2 countries – Papua New Guinea to the east and the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Irian Jaya to the west – the island covers just 1% of the world's land area but harbours at least 5% of its animal and plant species; 2/3 of which are found only in New Guinea.

Such unique wildlife includes kangaroos that climb trees, carnivorous mice, giant pigeons and rats bigger than domestic cats. And more orchid species than any other place on the planet.

Island conservation

Despite their remoteness, New Guinea's forests face growing threats from logging, mining, wildlife trade and agricultural plantations, particularly oil palm.

WWF has a long history of conservation efforts in New Guinea.

Whether conducting wildlife studies in the depths of the Kikori River Basin and Upper Sepik, assisting with the management of Lorentz National Park or promoting cross-border cooperation in the TransFly ecoregion, WWF is working to preserve New Guinea's forests and wildlife for generations to come.
 / ©: Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF
Blyth's hornbill, Papua New Guinea
© Brent Stirton / Getty Images / WWF

Up in the trees

 / ©: Chris Martin Bahr / WWF-Canon
Matschie's tree kangaroo, one of Papua New Guinea's unique wildlife species.
© Chris Martin Bahr / WWF-Canon

Unlike their Australian cousins, kangaroos in New Guinea are found in trees.

Although their bodies are designed to hop along the ground like other kangaroos, tree kangaroos have adapted to life in the rainforest.

These macropods climb with agility and speed, and can easily make 10-metre downward leaps from tree to tree.

All 6 species of tree kangaroo in New Guinea are at risk from habitat loss and hunting. As a WWF priority species, we are concentrating our conservation efforts to ensure that they can thrive in the wild.
 / ©: Lydia Kaia / WWF PNG
Village girls in traditional dress at the Sepik Crocodile Festival. Ambunti, Papua New Guinea.
© Lydia Kaia / WWF PNG
 / ©: WWF / Wayne Harris
One of eight new orchid species (Cadetia Kutubu) recently discovered in Papua New Guinea.
© WWF / Wayne Harris

Where is New Guinea?

New Guinea is highlighted below in red.


View WWF Critical Regions of the World in a larger map

Facts & Figures

    • Covering an area of 786,000km2, New Guinea is the 2nd largest island in the world.
    • The island is home to largest rainforest in the Asia-Pacific region, and the 3rd largest rainforest in the world.
    • It covers less than 0.5% of the world's land area yet contains at least 5% of the world’s species; 2/3 of which are unique to the island.
    • More orchid species are found here than any other place on Earth.
    • Rising at more than 5000m, New Guinea's Puncak Jaya (Mt Carstensz) is the highest point in the southwest Pacific.
    • The island receives an average 2,500-3,000mm of rain per year.
    • More than 1,100 different languages are spoken in New Guinea.

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