Scientific Exploration: Tuke Rainforest Conservancy

In late 2018, a WildArk team returned to our Tuke Rainforest Conservancy along with two highly acclaimed scientists: Professor Joseph Holtum and Terry Reardon to do some preliminary research into the biodiversity of this region.

Professor Joseph Holtum is an acclaimed plant ecophysiologist whose expertise is in plant species that exhibit a water-conserving type of photosynthesis and Terry Reardon has published work on a wide range of organisms including bacteria, fungi, nematodes, insects and mammals with a particular expertise and interest in the study and conservation of bats.

The world they entered in New Britain, Papua New Guinea, was to open their eyes to a truly remarkable location. The Nakanai region is a vast limestone mountain range covering an area of approximately 4,000 square kilometres. The dense forests with their extensive canopies house an untold number of species from bats to insects, flora and fauna, and potential species yet to be classified. New Britain may actually be one of the most biologcally significant regions on the planet with old growth forests, deep sinkholes, hidden caves and underground water schemes, yet the flora and fauna is probably less well known due to the remote location. In 2009, research study identified over 100 new species of animals in the Nakanai mountain range previously unknown to science. The region was listed on the World Heritage Tenatitive list and therefore it is critically important to complete further research to progress the protection of this significant region.

Completing the full biodiversity study is now critical in the next steps of the recognintion of the significance of the region.