Saturday, July 18, 2009
Only 20 percent of the world's ancient forests remain in large, intact tracts. Some of the ancient forests under greatest threat are the ‘Paradise Forests’.
This wonderfully diverse region supports hundreds of indigenous cultures and creatures found nowhere else in the world. The island of New Guinea, the world’s second biggest island, has the largest continuous tracts of ancient forest in the Asia Pacific region. The island is divided into two regions: the Indonesian territory of Papua in the west and the nation of Papua New Guinea in the east.
The Paradise Forests consist of tropical rainforests, mangrove, coastal and swamp forests. Monsoon and deciduous forests flourish in the drier and more mountainous regions. They shelter an amazingly rich number of plant and animal species, many of which occur nowhere else on earth. The Orang Utan, Sumatran Tiger and the world's largest flower, the one metre wide rafflesia all call the Paradise Forests home.
People also live in the Paradise Forests. Their deep connection to the forest for their cultural, spiritual and physical wellbeing has been unbroken for thousands of years. The diversity of these cultures is extraordinary. More than 1000 languages are spoken on the island of New Guinea alone. That is around one sixth of all the living languages on Earth today.