The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program aims to reduce human and environmental impacts on habitats in the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea. Community-managed conservation, forest management, and organic coffee farming have been implemented to reduce pressures on local wildlife while also ensuring the stable and sustainable livelihoods of local communities.
The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) in the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea works to protect the local watershed and provide the local population with sustainable livelihoods. Mainly, the community manages a conservation area and forest that covers 78,729 hectares of habitat in total. Mapping and land-use planning has enabled local communities to identify agricultural areas, riparian areas, and sites slated for restoration. The area is of critical conservation importance due to the habitats it provides for endemic and endangered wildlife species, including the Huon tree kangaroo, that are traditionally hunted as bushmeat. Rather than banning hunting outright which would likely not have been supported by local communities, local groups designated several parcels of land as off-limits to hunting. Conservation livelihoods programs have been created to both encourage buy-in from local communities and boost their livelihood opportunities. For example, a coffee harvesting project using organic agricultural methods was implemented. Coffee is shade grown in already existing family gardens along with other native trees and food crops. Participation in the coffee farming initiative is conditional on supporting the conservation area. Furthermore, local communities have pledged to discontinue various fishing practices that have proven damaging to local ecosystems. Signage has also been posted to identify sensitive reefs and turtle nesting sites to fishers.
The TKCP keeps one of the largest forest carbon datasets in the region. This dataset suggests that the conservation area stores an estimated 44.6 millions tons of carbon, equivalent to 163.6 million tons of carbon dioxide.
The improved connectivity of forest in the area is reported to play an important role in mitigating flooding impacts. Food security is reported to have improved, with conservation activities improving the ecosystem service provisioning of wild game and non-timber forest products. Water security is also reported to have improved as the conservation area supports the provisioning of fresh water.
Anecdotal evidence from local community members reveal a perceived return of wildlife including tree kangaroos, cassowaries, and possums.
Since its inception, the coffee farming project is reported to have helped farmers export 14 tons of coffee worth USD$ 75,000, USD$ 30,000 more than they would have been estimated to earn otherwise. The additional income has reportedly been used to pay for school fees and health expenses in the community.