Lorentz National Park is located in Indonesia’s Papua Province, along the ‘Pegunungan Mandala’ range, whose Puncak Cartenz (4884 m asl) is the highest peak in Southeast Asia. The property covers an area of 2.35 million hectares, making it the largest conservation area in Southeast Asia and stretches for over 150 km from Irian Jaya’s central cordillera mountains in the north to the Arafura Sea in the south.
Designated as a National Park in 1997 under Decree of the Minister of Forestry the property contains an outstanding range of ecosystems, representative of the high level of biodiversity found across the region. It is one of only three tropical regions in the world that have glaciers and its mosaic of land systems ranges from snow-capped mountain peaks to extensive lowland wetlands and coastal areas. The property also contains fossil sites, a high level of endemism and the richest biodiversity in the region.
Thirty-four vegetation types and 29 land systems have been identified within the property along with some 123 recorded mammal species, representing 80% of the total mammalian fauna of Irian Jaya. Mammals recorded include two of the world’s three monotremes; the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), and the long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijinii) a New Guinea endemic. In addition it is also home to a large number of restricted range (45) and endemic (9) bird species. The property has remarkable, cultural diversity, with seven ethnic groups, maintaining their traditional lifestyles. The highland, communities include the Amungme (Damal), Dani Barat, Dani Lembah Baliem, Moni and Nduga, whereas in the lowlands there are Asmat, Kamoro and Sempan.
Criterion (viii): The geology and landforms of Lorentz National Park display graphic evidence of earths’ history. Located at the meeting point of two colliding continental plates, the area has a complex geology with ongoing mountain formation as well as major sculpting by glaciation and shoreline accretion. The dominating mountain range is a direct product of the collision between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates and the property contains the highest points of the mountains of Papua New Guinea and the only remaining glaciers on the island. There is also clear evidence of post glacial shorelines.
Graphically illustrating the geomorphological effect of the last glacial and post-glacial periods, the mountains show all the classical glacial landforms including lakes and moraines. Furthermore, there are five small remnant glaciers. While all five glaciers are retreating rapidly under present climatic conditions, no other tropical glacier fields in the world exhibit glacial evolution as well as those in Lorentz National Park. There is also no better example in the world of the combined effect of collision of tectonic plates and the secondary major sculpting by glacial and post-glacial events.
Criterion (ix): Lorentz National Park is the only protected area in the world that incorporates a continous ecological transect from snow capped mountain peaks to a tropical marine environment, including extensive lowland wetlands.The geophysical processes and high rainfall found along this transect are consistent with the development of significant on-going ecological processes as is the division of the property into two distinct zones: the swampy lowlands and the high mountain area of the central cordillera. The climatic gradient, the greatest throughout the island of New Guinea and the entire Australian tectonic region, extends from nival zones and glaciers to lowland equatorial zones with an associated extreme range of faunal and floral species and communities.
Lorentz National Park provides evidence of highly developed endemism in both plants and animals, especially for the higher altitudes of the mountains, as expected in a region combining on-going uplift and climatic warming.
Criterion (x): The mountain building processes that have occurred over time have provided temperate refuges in the tropics for ancient Gondwanan plant species during the climatic warming that has occurred since the last ice age. For example, Lorentz National Park’s Nothofagus beech forests are well represented, although their closest relatives are otherwise confined to the cool temperate regions of south-eastern Australia, New Zealand and the southern Andes. The property is more than just the habitat for many rare, endemic and restricted range species. Its large size and exceptional natural integrity makes it especially important for their on-going evolution as well as thier long term conservation.
The refugial effect or local genetic evolution, or both, are manifest as locally endemic species or restricted range species. Much of the rich biota of Lorentz National Park is new or of special interest to science. A number of mammal species, including recent discoveries like the Dingiso tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus mbaiso) discovered in 1994, have evolved to utilize the specialized habitats within the property.
The property covers substantial areas of two identified Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) with a total of 45 restricted range birds and nine endemic species. Two of the restricted range bird species, Archbold’s bowerbird (Archboldia papuensis), and MacGregor’s bird-of-paradise (Macgregoria pulchra), are considered rare and vulnerable. Mammals recorded within the property include two of the world’s three monotremes; the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), and the long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijinii) a New Guinea endemic. Lorentz National Park will become increasingly important for long term conservation of the species already recorded and the many that remain to be discovered.
One of the outstanding features of the property is its large size, stretching for over 150 km from Irian Jaya’s central cordillera mountains in the north to the Arafura Sea in the south and covering 2.5 million ha, it is the largest protected area in Southeast Asia, making it a globally significant large tract of intact tropical forest. It is the only protected area in the world that incorporates a continous ecological transect from snow capped mountains to a tropical marine environment, including extensive lowland wetlands and protecting a complex of river catchments that extend from the tropical ice-cap to the tropical sea. The extensive size of the property is one of the guarantees ensuring the integrity of the habitats it hosts, ranging from glaciers, alpine vegetation, montane forest, lowland wet forest, freshwater marsh, to the coastal mangrove forests in the Arafura Sea. The large area included within the boundaries also assists in maintaining the high level of biodiversity found in the park including numeorus endemic species.
Several threats need to be addressed to ensure the integrity of the park including; development pressures, road construction, boundary demarkation, mining activity, petroleum exploration, illegal logging, impacts from human residents and limited management capacities and resources. There is a need to develop a comprehemsive management plan for the property which addresses the issue of limited effective field management as well as long term protection of the property from on-going threats. The size of the property, while providing an inherent degree of protection, also greatly influences the level of funding, staff capacity and technical expertise required to effectively manage. These issues and threats need to be addressed in more detail to ensure the outstanding universal value of the park remains intact and its stewardship is assured. Previously identified threats, such as unclear boundaries of the property and illegal fishing activities, are no longer considered as major threats, but require continued monitoring to ensure the maintenance of the integrity of the property.
Protection and management requirements
The management of Lorentz National Park World Heritage Property is under the authority of the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation, Ministry of Forestry, Republic of Indonesia. The first formal protection offered to the property covered a core area of the Lorentz landscape and was applied in 1919 by the Dutch Colonial Government and removed as a result of conflict with local people over land ownership. A Strict Nature Reserve was subsequently established in 1978 with Lorentz National Park (2,505,600 ha) established by Ministerial Decree in 1997 under Law No. 41 on Forestry, 1999. The property is also covered by Law No. 5 of 1990 Concerning Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystems.
Responsibility for management of protected areas in Indonesia sits with the Directorate of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) within the Department of Forestry in the Central Government. Operational management has been conducted by Lorentz National Park Bureau (Balai Taman Nasional Lorentz) since 2007 under the Minister of Forestry regulation 29/2006 which established the management structure for the property.
The Strategic Plan, the long term management plan and the zoning system are under development through broad and participatory processes involving related stakeholders. Long-term management tools address current and future threats including the estabilishment of new districts and road development within the property. Despite limited technical and financial resources, regular patrolling activities carried out to detect and halt illegal activities in the park.Nevertheless, additional resources are needed. To assist in addressing and overcoming this problem, the “Friends of Lorentz” initiative has been endorsed by a broad range of national and international partners, and aims to mobilize long term financial and technical assistance, as well as much needed capacity building for the effective management of the property.
The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry has requested the local government to monitor and halt continued work on a number of developments, including the existing and planned road developments within the boundaries of the property.In addition, the World Heritage Working Group under the Coordinating Ministry of Social Welfare as the national focal point for World Heritage is establishing an intergovermental coordination unit to address this issue and ensure continued monitoring of road developments.
International experts are being identified by the National Park management authority to proivde advice and technical assistance to combat forest die-back caused by Phytophora disease in Nothofagus forests. The private sector is also engaged providing necesary financial support. In addition, acknowledging the importance of involving indigenous communities in the effective protection of the park, communication channels are being forged with local indigenous organizations. This collaboration is key to facilitating negotiation and conflict resolution between different tribes as well as in carrying out comprehensive studies on the biodiversity and natural resources in areas where indigenous communities live.