Saving the horse-shoe-shaped area on the peninsula also will lock away 13 million tonnes of carbon, and the project might eventually yield tradable carbon offsets to help finance local communities, conservationists said.
Bruce Beehler of Conservation International, which has supported protection of the area’s endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo, said the rugged YUS had no timber or minerals of economic importance. Under the conservation plan, 35 villages representing 10,000 people have pledged to create a safe zone for forests and wildlife, particularly for the tree kangaroo.
The community also will set the rules governing the conservation area and in return will receive aid for education, health and alternative livelihoods. Many villagers backed the plan, Beehler said, because they had heard about or seen other areas stripped by miners or loggers, destroying livelihoods and cultures. Other groups in Papua New Guinea also are seeking to create conservation zones under a new law.
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