World Tree Kangaroo Day was celebrated on 21 May, drawing attention to conservation action in Papua New Guinea to save this critically important species.
Papua New Guinea declares 21 May as World Tree Kangaroo Day
May 21, 2023
Officially declared by the Government of Papua New Guinea, World Tree Kangaroo Day recognises the importance of Tree Kangaroos as a keystone species, further drawing attention to country’s unique biodiversity, which the United Nations estimates represents approx. 7% of the world’s total biodiversity on less than 1% of the planet’s land mass.
Globally, the rate of species loss is hundreds of times higher than the average taken of the past 10 million years and unfortunately accelerating. Papua New Guinea remains one the few megadiverse countries where its natural environment supports the livelihoods of approx. 85% of its population.
There are 14 species of tree Kangaroos found in only three countries: Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia. Papua New Guinea is home to the majority of species, six of which are found exclusively in Papua New Guinea.
Fifty percent of all tree kangaroo species are classified as either ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered.’ Papua New Guinea is home to three endangered species (Matchies, Goodfellow’s and Ifola) and two critically endangered species (Tenkile and Golden-mantled). As a result, there is an urgent call for the global community to strengthen conservation efforts, particularly within Papua New Guinea to support local communities establish larger Protected Areas, along with livelihood opportunities for communities who are protecting these tree kangaroos.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) over the last decade to increase the total number and size of Protected Areas in the country, itself a critical step in protecting Tree Kangaroo habitats.
UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener said, “Papua New Guinea is a good example demonstrating that a strong focus on biodiversity protection is helping to achieve multiple Sustainable Development Goals, reducing the impact of climate change and land degradation, as well as providing nature-based solutions that drive a green and blue economic transformation."
World Tree Kangaroo Day helps draw attention to the country’s conservation efforts but also highlights the need for greater financial resources to support one of the last pockets of hope for the preservation of critically important species.”
The recent establishment of Papua New Guinea’s Biodiversity and Climate Change Fund (https://pngbcf.org/), closely supported by UNDP, aims to crowd-in financial and technical resources to enable present and future generations of Papua New Guineans to restore, protect, and enhance the country’s biodiversity and build resilience in the face of climate change. The Fund is currently supporting local communities who set aside protected areas, not just for tree kangaroos but for all biodiversity within Protected Areas and Papua New Guinea.