National Parks in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has a notable diversity of protected areas, according to the IUCN. In total, there are 57 protected areas covering 17,248 km², representing 3.69% of the national territory. Additionally, there are 3,344 km² of marine protected areas, constituting 0.14% of its 2,407,382 km² maritime extension. Among these protected areas are 4 national parks, 2 protected areas, 3 nature sanctuaries, 1 nature reserve, 1 standard reserve, 2 conservation areas, 33 natural management areas, 1 provincial park, 6 locally managed marine areas, 1 marine area, and 1 national reserve which is also a national park. Additionally, Papua New Guinea hosts 2 Ramsar sites, noted for their importance in wetland conservation and nature preservation in Oceania.

List of National Parks in Papua New Guinea

McAdam National Park

Located in Morobe Province, McAdam National Park is known for its abundant wildlife and flora, as well as its scenic landscapes including crystal-clear rivers and lush forests.

Varirata National Park

Near the capital, Port Moresby, Varirata National Park offers well-maintained trails, impressive viewpoints, and an excellent opportunity for bird watching, including birds of paradise.

Nature Sanctuaries

Crown Island

Located in the Bismarck Sea, Crown Island covers 589.7 km² (5.08’S,146.57’E). This volcanic island, with a height of 298 meters, is covered by dense rainforest and has narrow volcanic beaches. Bird species include the island collared dove and the pied cuckoo-dove. This island is part of the Ranba Nature Management Area.

Ranba Sanctuary

The Ranba Sanctuary, covering 157 km², is located on Long Island, northeast of New Guinea, separated by the Vitiaz Strait. 15 km southeast of Crown Island, Long Island is a volcanic island of 500 km² that hosts two stratovolcanoes: Mount Reaumur (1280 m) and Mount Cerisy (1112 m). About 300 years ago, the top of this volcanic complex collapsed, creating a large caldera of 10 by 13.5 km, at the center of which is Lake Wisdom (5°20′S,147°6′E). During volcanic activity in 1953-1954 and 1968, Mount Motmot formed in the center of the lake. Lake Wisdom has a surface area of about 95 km², a depth of about 360 m, and is located 190 m above sea level. The water, with a temperature of 28°C, is fresh and rich in oxygen at great depth, harboring mollusks at 360 m. Although there are no aquatic plants, there are benthic algae and various species of mollusks and aquatic insects. The lake is home to ducks, grebes, and waders, and it is believed to host one or more crocodiles. The Ranba Sanctuary includes all of Long Island and Crown Island, with vegetation ranging from forests to savannas, where the coconut tree is the main crop. Wildlife includes wild boars, two subspecies of marsupials of the genus Phalanger, dogs, cats, and about 69 bird species, including 11 pigeon species and the megapode. The coasts host green turtles, hawksbill turtles, and leatherback turtles.

Balek Sanctuary

The Balek Sanctuary, covering 4.7 km², is located in the north of the island, 10 km south of Madang, along the Gogol River. This site is known for having been the setting of the movie Robinson Crusoe, starring Pierce Brosnan. A sulfurous stream emerges from a large limestone rock, and it is said that the water has healing properties and is inhabited by spirits. The water is so clear that eels and turtles can be seen. The sanctuary is well-maintained for tourists and is an ideal place to observe birds of paradise and the southern yellow-billed hornbill.

Ramsar Sites

Lake Kutubu

Covering an area of 49.2 km² (06°25′S 143°19′E), Lake Kutubu is the second largest lake in Papua New Guinea. Situated at an elevation of 800 m in the Southern Highlands Province, it is surrounded by 100 ha of swamp forest and high hills. The lake is about 19 km long and 4 km wide, draining into the Soro River, a tributary of the Kikori River. It holds approximately 1825 km³ of water, with an average depth of 36 m. The lake is home to 14 fish species, ten of which are endemic. The surrounding villages practice a subsistence economy that does not impact the lake. The area has a climate with an average temperature of 23°C, ranging between 5°C and 39°C, and an annual rainfall of 4,500 mm, distributed throughout the year. Every 7 to 10 years, the region experiences droughts associated with the El Niño phenomenon. Northwest of the lake is Moro Airport, near the offices of Oil Search Community (OSL), which extracts gas and oil in the Moro Field and transports these resources to the coast via a 260 km pipeline. Residues from the exploitation have been detected in the lake.

Tonda Wildlife Management Area

Covering an area of 5,900 km² (08°45′S 141°22′E), this area is located on the plains of the Bensbach River basin, southwest of the main island, bordering Papua Province, Indonesia. The region, varying in altitude from 0 to 45 m, has its northern limit in the Morehead Range and features a coastline of marshes and low ridges. The plain is seasonally flooded, and the area includes riverbanks, mangroves, grasslands, and wooded savanna. The main river basins are the Bensbach River to the west, the Morehead River in the center, and the Wasi Kusa and Mai Kussa estuaries to the east. The rivers meander and overflow during rains, although permanent swamps are scarce. Annual rainfall ranges between 1500 and 2000 mm. The wetland is home to 63 fish species and about 250 species of waterbirds that find refuge during droughts. This area is adjacent to Wasur National Park in Western New Guinea. Endemic animals include the New Guinea marsupial mouse, the wallaby, the Brun’s wallaby, and the bronze quoll. Notable birds include the Fly River grassbird and the spotted kookaburra, while among amphibians is the Papuan snapping turtle. Vegetation includes forests, shrubs, savannas, grasslands, and aquatic vegetation.

Managed Reserves

Zo-oimaga Managed Reserve

The Zo-oimaga Managed Reserve is a protected area where traditional owners maintain the management of their lands, ensuring the conservation of local biodiversity and the sustainability of natural resources.

Wildlife Management Areas

In Papua New Guinea, a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is the simplest form of protected area. These areas protect land or water while maintaining full power for customary landowners to manage their lands. WMAs are managed by an elected committee composed of traditional landowners.

Tonda Wildlife Management Area, Western Province

This extensive management area is located in Western Province and is known for its rich biodiversity and importance in wildlife conservation.

Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Eastern Highlands Province

Located in the Eastern Highlands, this area includes significant mountain ecosystems and is home to various endemic species.

Kamiali Wildlife Management Area, Morobe Province

Situated in Morobe Province, this area protects a variety of habitats, from coastal forests to mountains.

Lake Kutubu Wildlife Management Area, Southern Highlands Province

This area includes Papua New Guinea’s second largest lake and is crucial for the protection of endemic fish species and other aquatic organisms.

Oi Mada Wara Wildlife Management Area, Goodenough Island, Milne Bay Province

It protects the biodiversity of Goodenough Island and is managed by the island’s traditional owners.

Sulamesi Wildlife Management Area, Mount Bosavi, Southern Highlands Province

Situated on Mount Bosavi, this area is known for its rich biodiversity and importance in conserving mountain species.

Maza Wildlife Management Area, Western Province

This area is vital for protecting various aquatic and terrestrial species in Western Province.

Aramba Wildlife Management Area, Western Province

Aramba is known for its conservation efforts and the sustainable management of its natural resources.

Wereaver Wildlife Management Area, Western Province

This area protects important wildlife habitats and is managed by local communities.

Lebanon-Arisai Wildlife Management Area, Mount Bosavi, Southern Highlands Province

Located on Mount Bosavi, this area is key for conserving endemic species and mountain habitats.

Lebanon-Hose Wildlife Management Area, Mount Bosavi, Southern Highlands Province

Similar to Lebanon-Arisai, this area protects significant mountain ecosystems and endemic species.

Neiru (Aird Hills) Wildlife Management Area, Gulf Province

This area in Gulf Province protects a variety of habitats and species, managed by local communities.

Baiyer River Wildlife Sanctuary, Baiyer, Western Highlands Province

This sanctuary is known for its biodiversity and the protection of important riverine habitats and aquatic species.

How many national parks are there in Papua New Guinea?

Papua New Guinea has four national parks, each with its own unique characteristics and biodiversity. These parks are vital for the conservation of local fauna and flora, and offer significant opportunities for scientific research and ecotourism.

Map of the location of national parks in Papua New Guinea

Map of protected areas, reserves, and national parks of Papua New Guinea

The map of the location of national parks in Papua New Guinea shows the distribution of these important protected spaces throughout the country. From the highest mountains to the coasts, national parks like Jimi Valley, Mount Wilhelm, McAdam, and Varirata stand out for their diverse landscapes and rich ecosystems.

See also