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Glaciers and mangroves in Asia-Pacific’s largest protected area

Imagine a park where you can feel snow crunching under your feet in one place, and witness a sunset over the Pacific Ocean in another. Where lowland forests meet alpine ecosystems and glaciers work their way down the slopes of the tallest peak in Asia-Pacific.
Stretching over 150 km, from the central mountains of New Guinea in the north to the Arafura Sea in the south, Lorentz National Park is a 2.5 million ha World Heritage Site - the largest protected area in Asia-Pacific.1

Few protected areas in the world can compete with the number of ecoregions that lay within Lorentz’ boundaries:


Not surprisingly, the biodiversity found in Lorentz National Park mirrors the amazing range of ecosystems that are found there. Local species include the mountain quail (Anurophasis monorthonyx), the snow mountain robin (Petroica archboldii) and the long-tailed paradiagalla bird of paradise (Paradiagalla caruneulata). One of the most threatened species is the southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius).

Here we also have the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), a species shared with Australia, and the long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijinii), endemic to New Guinea. They are both unusual in that they are mammals that lay eggs. Four species of cuscus, several species of tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus species) and the tiger cat (Dasyurus albopunctatus) are also found within the park boundaries.

Indigenous peoples

Over the course of more than 24,000 years, humans living in the region have developed complex and distinctive cultures. Indigenous groups include the Nduga, Amungme (Damal), Nakai (Asmat Keenok), Sempan, West Dani and Komoro.

Several tribes are found in the lowland rivers and swamps, where they still follow a semi-nomadic lifestyle, supplemented by basic agriculture.


As the forests of New Guinea are progressively opened up for exploitation, this has disrupted the lives of several tribes in the Lorentz area. Since the 1970’s, a massive mining operation has sprung from their land, with grim consequences on the surrounding environment.

According to Survival International, the activities of the giant Freeport gold mine on the slopes of the Carstenz massif near Mount Jaya has had a negative impact on the local indigenous Amungme tribe, many of whom have become displaced by the operation. Other threats include road schemes that could cut through Lorentz National Park.

What WWF does

WWF-Indonesia is helping implement the Lorentz Management Plan, which is based on collaborative management principles. Our staff are helping local actors such as communities, government, and local NGOs to participate effectively in park management, and are assisting with the revision of district spatial plans.

1 Indo-Pacific Conservation Alliance. Lorentz National Park and World Heritage Site. Accessed 12/2/05.
The Meren Valley in the Carstenz Mountains of Papua Province. Lorentz National Park. Indonesia 
The Meren Valley in the Carstenz Mountains of Papua Province. Lorentz National Park. Indonesia
Dani tribesman with a juvenile tree kangaroo <i>(Dendrolagus mbaiso)</i>. This is the ... 
© WWF / Gerald S. CUBITT
Dani tribesman with a juvenile tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus mbaiso). This is the first photo taken of this newly discovered species. November 1990, Lorentz National Park (Sudirman Mountains) at about 2,400 m. Papua Province. New Guinea. Indonesia.
© WWF / Gerald S. CUBITT