HomeBlogs Lorentz National Park Lorentz National Park is located in the Indonesian province of Papua,
formerly known as Irian Jaya (western New Guinea). With an area of
25,056 km² (9,674 mi²), it is the largest national park in South-East
Asia. In 1999 Lorentz was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
outstanding example of the biodiversity of New Guinea, Lorentz is one
of the most ecologically diverse national parks in the world. It is the
only nature reserve in the Asia-Pacific region to contain a full
altitudinal array of ecosystems ranging through marine areas, mangroves,
tidal and freshwater swamp forest, lowland and montane rainforest,
alpine tundra, and equatorial glaciers. At 4884 meters, Puncak Jaya
(formerly Carstensz Pyramid) is the tallest mountain between the
Himalayas and the Andes.
Birdlife International has called
Lorentz Park “probably the single most important reserve in New
Guinea”. It contains five of World Wildlife Fund’s “Global 200”
ecoregions: Southern New Guinea Lowland Forests; New Guinea Montane
Forests; New Guinea Central Range Subalpine Grasslands; New Guinea
Mangroves; and New Guinea Rivers and Streams.
contains many unmapped and unexplored areas, and is certain to contain
many species of plants and animals as yet unknown to Western science.
Local communities’ ethnobotanical and ethnozoological knowledge of the
Lorentz biota is also very poorly documented.
The park is named for Hendrikus Albertus Lorentz, a Dutch explorer who passed through the area on his 1909–10 expedition.
Fauna The Southern Crowned Pigeon found in Lorentz is confined to the southern lowland forests of New Guinea. There
are over 630 species of bird (around 70% of the total number of bird
species in Papua) and 123 species of mammal. Birds include two species
of cassowary, 31 dove and pigeon species, 31 species of cockatoo, 13
species of kingfisher and 29 species of sunbird. Six bird species are
endemic to the Snow Mountains including the Snow Mountain Quail and
Snow Mountain Robin, 26 species are endemic to the Central Papuan Ranges
while three are endemic to the South Papuan Lowlands. Threatened
species include the Southern Cassowary, Southern Crowned Pigeon,
Pesquet’s Parrot, Salvadori’s Teal and Macgregor’s Giant Honeyeater.
mammal species include the Long-beaked echidna, Short-beaked Echidna,
and four species of cuscus as well as wallabies, wildcats and
tree-kangaroos. Endemic to the Sudirman Range is the Dingiso, a
tree-kangaroo species only discovered in 1995.
Human habitation and culture The
area of the national park has been inhabited for more than 25,000
years. The forests of Lorentz encompass the traditional lands of eight
indigenous ethnic groups,including the Asmat, Amungme, Dani, Sempan, and
Nduga. Estimates of the current population vary between 6,300 and
It is widely acknowledged that conservation management
strategies for the park will have to incorporate the needs and
aspirations of these peoples if the park is to succeed in protecting
biodiversity. Moreover, cultural diversity is another important measure
of success for the park.
Ecological threats The
main threats to the biodiversity of Lorentz are from commercial
logging, forest conversion for plantation agriculture, smallholder
agricultural conversion, mining/oil/gas development, illegal road
construction, and the illegal species trade. Global warming also poses a
As of 2005, there was no reported commercial
logging or other large-scale threats present inside the park. There are
no currently active forest conversion projects, and agricultural
conversion is minimal. The illegal species trade is known to be a
serious problem. The large Freeport gold/copper mining operation has
been active for decades to the west and north of the park but is not
active inside the park boundaries. Oil exploration inside and to the
northeast of the park is ongoing.
The overall health of the
biodiversity of Lorentz Park is currently excellent. While logging and
other threats have yet to materialize, it is likely that this will
become a threat in the future. Climate change poses a very real threat,
but its specific implications for Lorentz are uncertain.
first formal protection of a 3,000 km² core area of the Lorentz
landscape was applied by the Dutch Colonial Government in 1919 with the
establishment of the Lorentz Nature Monument. In 1978, the Indonesian
Government established a Strict Nature Reserve with an area of
21,500km². Lorentz National Park was established in 1997, with a total
area of 25,056km², including an eastern extension and coastal and marine
Lorentz National Park was listed as a natural World
Heritage Site in 1999, however an area of about 1,500 km² was excluded
from listing due to the presence of mining exploration titles within the
As of 2005, there were no park staff or guards assigned to
Lorentz. However, the park’s success largely depends on local
communities’ understanding of and support for conservation, rather than
external enforcement alone. Several conservation organizations are
working in the Lorentz area.
In 2006, the Minister of Forestry
established a managing structure for Lorentz National Park, the Lorentz
National Park Bureau with headquarters in Wamena. The Bureau became
functional only in 2007, and reached a straffing of 44 in mid-2008.
However the an UNESCO Monitoring Mission in 2008 acknowledged that the
capacity of the Bureau was seriously limited due to lack of funding,
equipament and experience.