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Lost World revisited

…more new species discovered…

A return trip to the Foja Mountains of western New Guinea (Irian Jaya), Indonesia has yielded two new species of mammal as well as more glimpses and photos of some of the region’s stunning bird species. During the most recent trip, in June 2007, a group of scientists led by Conservation International were accompanied by a film crew. They managed to film the courtship displays of the Golden-fronted Bowerbird Amblyornis flavifrons and the Black Sicklebill Epimachus fastuosus, a Bird-of-paradise. However, the most surprising finds of the trip were two new species of mammal - a Cercarteus pygmy possum and a Mallomys giant rat.

More images were taken of the new species of honeyeater, first seen in 2005 and yet to have its conservation status assessed, as well as other spectacular species such as Ornate Fruit-dove Ptilinopus ornatus.In 2005, the area was dubbed a ‘lost world’ after scientists discovered dozens of new plants and animals in the dense jungle.

The mountain range’s interior – more than 300,000 hectares of old growth tropical forest – remains untouched by humans. Indeed, the entire Foja forest tract of more than 1 million hectares constitutes the largest essentially pristine tropical forest in Asia, forming part of BirdLife's North Papuan mountains Endemic Bird Area (EBA). In recent decades a high proportion of newly-described birds have been found in EBAs, so although the discovery of new species by the expedition is remarkable, it is not entirely unexpected. However, these findings highlight the vital importance of EBAs for the conservation of global biodiversity.

Indonesia is losing its forests at the world's fastest rate, with some two million hectares (4.9 million acres) disappearing each year. However, Indonesia recently announced its first ‘restoration forest’ in the centre of Sumatra. Harapan Rainforest represents the first block of commercially valuable lowland forest, under private management licence, that is earmarked for ecosystem restoration in Indonesia. This new venture is a beacon of hope for Indonesia's remaining tracts of tropical forest.

4th July 2014