Papua’s biodiversity is renowned. Within Indonesia – a mega diverse country in itself, second only to Brazil for total number of terrestrial species – Papua province supports over 50 percent of the country’s species. Many of the species represented in this province are also endemic, or exclusive to the region. Thus, Papua significantly contributes to Indonesia’s status as the second most terrestrial species – rich country in the world. If one includes ocean species, Indonesia is possibly the most diverse country on the planet, and in large part due to the biodiversity of Papua province’s coastal waters and reefs.
The list of Papua’s biodiversity is impressive. Within its fauna alone, Papua supports
- 191 species of native mammals,
- 552 species of terrestrial breeding birds or water birds (not including shorebirds, pelagic, or migratory species),
- 142 species of lizards,
- 83 species of snakes,
- More than 130 species of frogs,
- 2,650 species of fishes (about 60 percent of which are marine species), and
- More than 100,000 arthropod species.
Much less is known about the plant life in Papua province, but an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 vascular plant species may exist. Native plants may make up as much as 50 percent of the flora. Papua is possibly also the richest place on the planet for orchids, and is the center of speciation for two genera of orchids (Bulbophyllum and Dendrobium) with an amazing 500+ species in each of these genera.
In many parts of Papua province the flora and fauna remain unknown. However, some of the unique characteristics of the region, such as the isolation of the Foja Mountains and the spectrum of ecosystems discovered in the province, suggest that the Mamberamo contains extraordinary diversity.
A 2005 exploration team discovered 40 species new to science and many species new to the region, including the Golden-mantled Tree-Kangaroo (Dendrolagus pulcherrimus), which constitutes a new mammal record for Indonesia as this species was only previously known from Papua New Guinea.