Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP): A Successful Initiative to Finance Conservation & Community Well-Being in Papua New Guinea

Woodland Park Zoo
Publicado: 14 Septiembre 2018
Última edición: 05 Octubre 2020
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The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (TKCP) began in 1996 as a conservation research study to determine the status of the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo in PNG’s Huon Peninsula. Working with local communities and the PNG government, TKCP evolved to help establish the Ypono, Uruwa, and Som (YUS) Conservation Area in 2009 to protect habitat for a wide range of threatened species and was instrumental in establishing a conservation endowment that annually contributes to the funding needed for YUS management and protection in perpetuity. TKCP works  in unique ways with communities to address their need for sustainable livelihoods, access to health, education and skills training. Through an innovative partnership with Caffé Vita to market YUS coffee, TKCP has helped to improve the standard of living for the more than 12,000 people in 50 villages throughout YUS.  TKCP is now working with lowland farmers to develop a similar program for the sale of premium cocoa.


Scale of implementation
Bosques costeros
Bosques tropicales de hoja perenne
Ecosistemas forestales
Ecosistemas marinos y costeros
Actores locales
Conocimientos tradicionales
Financiación sostenible
Gestión y planificación de áreas protegidas y conservadas
Gobernanza de las áreas protegidas y conservadas
Medios de vida sostenibles
Poblaciones indígenas
Salud y bienestar humano
Degradación de tierras y bosques
Pérdida de la biodiversidad
Pérdida de ecosistemas
Falta de oportunidades de ingresos alternativos
Falta de conciencia del público y de los responsables de la toma de decisiones
Sustainable development goals
ODS 1 - Fin de la pobreza
ODS 3 - Salud y bienestar
ODS 4 - Educación de calidad
ODS 11 - Ciudades y comunidades sostenibles
ODS 12 - Producción y consumo responsables


YUS Conservation Area, Huon Peninsula (Morobe Province), Papua New Guinea


Environmental – This solution addresses the challenge of working in a remote and difficult to access area of PNG (Huon Peninsula), rich in biodiversity, but facing the increasing pressure of subsistence needs from a growing population. 


Social – This solution addresses the fact that 90% of land in PNG is owned by indigenous people, resulting in a need for local landowners to come together to protect their forests and their livelihoods. 


Economic – This solution addresses the economic challenges faced by communities in the remote YUS Conservation Area that have limited economic opportunities and depend upon the land to meet their needs. 




More than 12,000 people in the YUS CA are benefitting from TKCP's innovative community livelihoods initiative and protected area financing efforts.

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

Wildlife conservation and protected area management, supporting community livelihoods, and sustainable financing for the YUS Conservation Area are three building blocks that work in tandem to ensure the sustainable health and prosperity for the people and wildlife living in the YUS landscape:


1) community-led wildlife conservation and protected area management helps to guarantee the long-term existence of the natural resources that the YUS people need to survive while maintaining the spectacular biodiversity found in PNG. 


2) sustainable livelihoods that depend upon the conservation of natural resources provide meaningful economic benefits that contribute to human well-being and provide an incentive for communities to protect biodiversity. 


3) a conservation endowment helps to guarantee that the YUS Conservation Area will continue to exist, protecting biodiversity and providing for sustainable livelihoods for local communities in perpetuity.


These three building blocks are interwoven and mutually supporting. While each building block is important in its own right, the strength and innovation of this solution comes from the combined effect of the building blocks working together.


Since 2009, Woodland Park Zoo and TKCP have built an innovative and valuable partnership with Caffé Vita to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for communities across YUS through the farm-direct export of high-quality conservation friendly coffee. With Caffé Vita’s strong commitment and technical support, the project has expanded from its original pilot villages to include virtually all of the coffee-growing villages in YUS and has increased coffee farmers' profit on a per kilogram basis by sixfold. Increased incomes for more than 600 farming families are enabling parents to send their children to school, cover family health expenses, and improve family homes with durable foundations and roofing. The YUS Conservation Coffee initiative has become a vital contributor to the success of TKCP and the YUS Conservation Area.


In 2012, TKCP worked with Conservation International to establish the YUS Conservation Endowment, which provides a percentage of annual funding support to the local NGO, TKCP-PNG, for the management and protection of the YUS Conservation Area in perpetuity. 


Zachary Wells




Our parents used to tell us stories about a money-making tree brought to YUS by missionaries generations ago. The tree was called coffee. It was first planted in Boksawin village in the early 1950s and eventually grown in many villages throughout YUS. We had heard about how coffee had changed the lives of farmers in other parts of Papua New Guinea, where there was better access to transportation. But in the steep remote mountains of YUS, the coffee beans had to be carried for several days to the market in town. For all of the time and difficulty, our families could not make any profit. In most villages, the coffee trees were abandoned to the forest many decades ago.


With the support of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program to connect us with Caffe Vita in Seattle, we coffee farmers in YUS have hope that our coffee trees will no longer go to waste. Through this partnership, we are now able to overcome our challenges by producing high-quality beans and exporting directly to Caffe Vita. Because we, as landowners and stewards of YUS, have committed to protecting our forest and the wildlife we share it with, our coffee earns us a premium price which we could never earn in the local markets. The additional income allows us to send our kids to school and provide them with the items they need to help them learn. We have gained the confidence and earned the financial capital to invest in our business to continue improving the quality of our coffee. We take pride in the conservation commitment we have made, which has established YUS as the first and only Conservation Area in Papua New Guinea, and it has opened the door of opportunity for our livelihoods as subsistence farmers. 


Because of our commitment to conservation, we are beginning to see more wildlife in and around our coffee gardens. Because of the benefits brought by our YUS Conservation Coffee, we now have an even greater respect and appreciation for the birds and animals we share our forest with. We are honoured to take responsibility for protecting the biodiversity and habitat of YUS so that our future generations can enjoy our environment and our lifestyle.

(Story written by Benjamin Sipa, TKCP-PNG)

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Lisa Dabek

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Woodland Park Zoo