West Papua: The Epicenter of World Biodiversity

West Papua
Sumber : Pinterest

West Papua was probably better known as the worldwide destination of Raja Ampat–the last paradise on earth. However, with the potential for high biodiversity, now the province—located on the western tip of the island of Papua—is known as the center of the most biodiversity in the world.

Based on data from Conservation International (CI), 75 percent of all hard coral species in the world are found in the region’s waters. One of the contributing factors is its location in the heart of the world coral triangle. In addition, there are about 700 types of mollusks, and more than a thousand types of reef fish live there.

West Papua
Sumber : World Atlas

Highest Plant Diversity in the World

The process of identifying plant species in Papua carried out by 99 researchers from 19 countries proves that Papua Island has 13,634 species grouped into 264 families and 1,742 genera with a 68 percent endemicity rate.

Over 700,000 plant specimens from the Papua Region consist of nearly 25,000 plant species names, identified to 13,634 scientifically accepted species. Furthermore, 68% or 9,301 species cannot be found elsewhere (endemic species).

This number proves that Papua Island has the highest level of plant species diversity globally and is a challenge for the Republic of Indonesia in managing West Papua, from Jayapura to Sorong.

The 2014 LIPI Lengguru Scientific Expedition, West Papua

The Lengguru Expedition is a collaboration of the French Institute of De Recherche Pour Le Development (IRD), the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), and the Sorong Marine and Fisheries Polytechnic. They have succeeded in revealing the extraordinary potential of Lengguru, Kaimana district, as a home for Papuan endemic species.

The expedition, involving 70 local and foreign researchers, brought Papua to be named the center of the most biodiversity in the world. The identification results show that there are hundreds of flora and fauna species classed as endemic to Papua and some of which are new species, including:

  • Three scorpion species and one endemic to Papua, two species of Kala cemeti, and one new spider species
  • There are 20 species of bats, eight species of mice, and five other species that have not been identified for mammals.
  • Rare bird species are found, one of which is the Mambruk—the largest pigeon species in the world.
  • Endemic Thorny Lizard has been identified with the white part of the eye’s pupil and has a length of 15 cm in adult size.

In addition, they have found 600 types of flora in the collection for types of orchids, palms, guava, and ginger. Meanwhile, the results of diving in the sea found:

  • Hundreds of endemic coral reef species have never been found in other areas, including 141 hard coral species, 53 genera, 16 families.
  • Types of root bahar (gorgonians) 8 families and 200 species were collected.
  • Mollusks from 65 families (300 species) are also nudibranchs and squids, including crinoids and highly abundant ornamental fish.

These findings are still being researched related to conservation efforts and their use in the future.

Birds of Paradise

West Papua supports the world’s only huge tropical forest and is home to nearly half of Indonesia’s biodiversity. More than 600 bird species are found in Papua, including 27 species of birds of paradise, many of which do not live anywhere else on earth.

The global interest in Papuan birdlife leads to increased wildlife tourism opportunities and brings new economic benefits to local communities. Sustainable development is crucial for the future of Papua’s forests and people, and the world.

Until early 2019, the region has at least 4.6 million hectares of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), more than 25 percent of the national MPA area target by 2020. This extraordinary potential for biodiversity has received worldwide recognition and led to the governor of West Papua, Dominggus Mandacan, being awarded as a Global Conservation Hero by Conservation International at Milk Studios, Los Angeles, United States, June 8, 2019.