The Splendour of Lorentz National Park and its Natural Wealth

Lorentz National Park is a Papuan tourist destination possessing a wealth of natural splendour. The park is named after a Dutch explorer, Hendrikus Albertus Lorentz, who passed through the area in 1909 on his 10th expedition to the park. It was later designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

Lorentz National Park has an area of 2.5 hectares, making it the largest national park in Southeast Asia. The park stretches across central to southern Papua. According to the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Lorentz National Park is located between two intersecting continental plates, namely the Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate.

This causes the Lorentz National Park area to experience a continuous process of mountain formation and large sculptures caused by glaciation and the addition of coastlines that form lowland areas. This process also causes a high level of endemism in this area that is still mostly covered by tropical forests.

The vastness of the park means that it has many ecosystems and vegetation types. There is a total of 34 vegetation types that can be found within. The types of vegetation include sago forest, peat forest, swamp forest, riverside forest, flatland/slope rain forest, hill rain forest, kerangas forest, mountain forest, grassland, coral sand beach, and crustal moss.

Lorentz National Park is also representative of the most complete ecosystem for biodiversity in the Asia Pacific. Most notably, it is one of only three areas in the world with glaciers in the tropics, and the only one in Indonesia. The tropical glaciers in Lorentz National Park are located at Puncak Jaya or Carstensz Pyramid, which has an altitude of 4,884m above sea level. Puncak Jaya is the highest peak that is part of the Sudirman Jayawijaya mountain range. Unfortunately, the glaciers in Puncak Jaya continue to thin over the years due to global warming.

Lorentz National Park has a diversity of flora and fauna. Plant species in this national park include nipah (Nypa fruticans), mangrove (Rhizophora apiculata), Pandanus julianettii, Colocasia esculenta, Avicennia marina, Podocarpus pilgeri, and Nauclea coadunata.

In this national park two Endemic Bird Area (DBE) habitats can also be found. There are approximately 45 bird species with limited distribution, with nine of them being endemic. Altogether, Lorentz National Park has at least 630 bird and 123 mammal species, as well as an estimated 150 species of amphibia and reptiles.

The park has also seen the discovery of a new species of mammal, the previously unknown tree kangaroo (Dendrologus mbaiso). This black and white, large-bodied kangaroo is found in the hilly areas south of Maokop and in the north-western mountain range of the region.

Aside from its incredible natural charm, Lorentz National Park also has an amazing cultural diversity. It is estimated that the culture in this area is around 30,000 years old. The area is home to the Nduga Tribe, Dani Tribe, Amungme Tribe, Sempan Tribe, and Asmat Tribe. Visitors can enjoy cultural attractions in Lorentz National Park through cultural festivals, such as the Baliem Valley Festival which is usually held every August.

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