significant land

^Varirata National Park is PNGs first protected area, declared in 1969 (©Biatus Bito).

Customary landowners, custodians of 97% of land in PNG, recognise many areas of land and sea as “tambu” – areas of special spiritual significance. Customary landownership is therefore integral to PNGs 2.1 million hectares in its 59 protected areas. Protected areas sustain livelihoods, help maintain culture, provide tourism opportunities, store carbon, and protect biodiversity.

The PNG government recognises the importance of effectiveness management of its protected areas. In 2016–2017 the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG), through its Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority (CEPA) and with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), organised for an evaluation of its protected areas, as part of the process to improve management effectiveness.


significant land


^Overall progress in management effectiveness for protected areas in PNG.

The key findings of the evaluation were as follows:

  • 41 of the 58 of protected areas were good to very good condition
  • 45% of the total area protected was in good to very good condition
  • Important values are declining in over half of the protected areas

To improve management effectiveness in protected areas CEPA has developed an ambitious and comprehensive Protected Area Policy which has been endorsed by the
National Executive Council, and has also prepared the new Protected Areas Bill. The policy and legislation are strongly orientated towards involvement and ownership by customary landowners. These will also assist PNG to meet its Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) target of 17% land area protected area by 2020.

Source: Leverington, F. et al. 2017. Assessment of management effectiveness for Papua New Guinea’s protected areas 2017 : final report. Apia, Samoa: SPREP.