Lorentz National Park - Southeast Asia's largest single protected area with snow-capped mountains and glaciers

Snow-capped mountains and glaciers linked with mangroves and tropical seas are the unique features of Lorentz National Park, the largest single protected area in Southeast Asia (MacKinnon 2002). The Park covers some 2,505,600 hectares including extensions on its eastern side, and a marine component (Ngudi et. al., 2008); its size is about 0.6 percent of Irian Jaya's total size. It also boasts the highest peak east of the Himalayas-the Puncak Jaya, sometimes called Mount Carstensz or the Carstensz Pyramid-Indonesia's highest mountain at 4,884 meters above sea level.

Lorentz is also the only protected area in the world that encompasses a continuous, intact transect-from snow cap mountains to tropical marine environment, including extensive lowland wetlands. Located at the meeting point of two colliding continental plates, the area has a complex geology with on-going mountain formation as well as major sculpting by glaciations and shoreline accretion, which has formed a large part of the lowland areas. These processes have increased the level of endemism and high level of biodiversity in the region. The area also contains fossil sites that record the evolution of life on New Guinea (whc.unesco.org).

Lorentz has the most complete spectrum of New Guinean ecosystems, from mangroves on the coast, to montane and alpine forests. Yet Lorentz is still the most inaccessible and hence least known among the national parks of Indonesia (ASOEN/JICA/UNEP, undated). This may be the reason why the reserve is almost entirely pristine.
Details on Lorentz National Park are available in the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity’s (ACB) "The ASEAN Heritage Parks", A Journey to the Natural Wonders of Southeast Asia, October 2010. Please contact ACB for access of this book.