Building Institutional Capacity of the Port Moresby Nature Park
Michelle McGeorge – Port Moresby Nature Park, Papua New Guinea
The Port Moresby Nature Park is a Papua New Guinea charitable trust located on 16 acres of land adjacent to the University of Papua New Guinea on the outskirts of Port Moresby. It was previously known as the National Capital Botanical Gardens, but the National Capital District Commission dissolved the managing company in 2011 and granted management of the facility to the Port Moresby Nature Park Trust in early 2012. The park is overseen by a board drawn from Port Moresby government, business and community, and managed by a general manager and curator with extensive international zoo experience.
With the current management and business plan, the Port Moresby Nature Park has the potential to be the best zoological institution in Papua New Guinea. A sound strategy and three-year business plan are in place and there is solid community backing. Although the new management has only been in place for a short period, important improvements to some of the animal exhibits have already been implemented, and priority needs for the park identified. Included in the former is a rainforest walk featuring all three species of cassowary found in Papua New Guinea, and a new exhibit for Matschie's and Doria's tree kangaroos. The latter also enables the park to profile the Tenkile Conservation Program that is protecting the biodiversity of the Torricelli Mountain Range in north-west Papua New Guinea (another WAZA-branded project).
Zoos Victoria is excited to be partnering with the Port Moresby Nature Park in an effort to build their capacity and standing as a zoo-based conservation organisation. Through the development of a three-year sister zoo agreement, our partnership will focus on strengthening the capacity of park staff to effectively manage the animal and plant collections, deliver innovative learning programmes and engage with the people of Port Moresby. This partnership also provides great opportunities to recognise the talents of Zoos Victoria's staff, with both horticulture and education staff to provide in-country training in the first year.
Papua New Guinea comprises the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, a land that contains 7% of the world's biodiversity and the third largest area of remaining tropical forest after the Congo and Amazon basins. However, its wildlife and wild places are challenged by inadequate protection and its people suffer from poor provision of basic services such as health and education. Hence, there is an urgent need to influence conservation-sensitive attitudes, knowledge and behaviours within Papua New Guinea.
The Port Moresby Nature Park is ideally placed to help address these shortcomings and Zoos Victoria is delighted to have the opportunity to work with a committed partner to generate measurable conservation and social outcomes. The city of Port Moresby is home to 600,000 official residents; however, the provincial government acknowledges that the actual population may be closer to 1,000,000 residents when squatter settlements are factored. This represents 15% of the entire population of Papua New Guinea and a significant educational reach for Port Moresby Nature Park.
As well as progressing Zoos Victoria's goal to become a world-leading zoo-based conservation organisation, this agreement meets a WAZA recommendation for developed zoos to support an increase in standards in developing zoos. Port Moresby Nature Park is a facility with huge potential, and a great deal of growth and development planned for future years. We highly recommend that you pay them a visit and consider extending your support to this institution, or any other benefits that can flow from the talents of your staff, resources and experience.