The Lorentz Lowlands Landscape located in southern Papua comprises Mimika and Asmat Districts, combining the contiguous forest within the two districts into a single value landscape.The Lorentz Lowlands consist of largely intact upland (free draining, mineral soil) forests in the northern parts of the landscape, and extensive lowland swamp forests and mangrove ecosystems in the southern half of the landscape.
Lorentz National Park is the crown jewel of Indonesia’s protected area, along the ‘Pegunungan Mandala’ range, whose Puncak Cartenz (4884 m asl) is the highest peak in Southeast Asia. The park covers an area of 2.35 million hectares, making it the largest conservation area in Southeast Asia. It contains an outstanding range of ecosystems, as 34 vegetation types and 29 land systems have been identified within the park along with some 123 recorded mammal species. In addition, it is home to a large number of restricted range (45) and endemic (9) bird species.The park 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 communities.
Another unique aspect of this landscape is the Mimika and Asmat Mangroves that stretch along 500 km of coastline and cover over 400,000 ha.The bordering fresh- water swamp forest covers an additional approximately 1M ha.These mangrove and backwater swamps are a world-class asset and harbor some of the highest above and belowground carbon stocks per hectare of any forest on the planet.They must to be managed sustainably to mitigate vast GHG emissions and conserve important biodiversity and environmental services that local communities enjoy.
The conservation of the Mimika and Asmat Mangroves and bordering swamps is LESTARI’s priority landscape initiative in the Lorentz Lowlands.These mangroves contribute to the protection of coastal areas against storm surges; provide valuable and commercial viable food resources, support livelihoods of the local communities; and help to mitigate climate change through sequestration of huge amounts of carbon. Unfortunately, these important ecosystems are under threat due from a number of sources.The conversion of swamps to oil palm plantations threatens the hydrological sustainability of the system, and future conversion of mangroves for fishponds aquaculture may cause significant ecosystem loss. Such unsustainable land use changes negatively impact local livelihoods and increase vulnerability to flood- ing. Hence LESTARI is supporting the establishment of an internationally recognized South Papua Mangrove Conservation Corridor to be managed through a regional mangrove management coordination body.
The threats posed to the integrity and the preservation of Lorentz National Park include illegal logging, and non-sustainable forest utilization. LESTARI will support the collaborative effort by engaging with relevant stakeholders to improve protected area management, enhance environmental governance, and build capacity for effective spatial planning in order to address current and future encroachment pressures on forest resources.