Papua New Guinea Biodiversity Program

Papua New Guinea indigenous dancing

Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) environmental biodiversity is among the world’s richest – and most at-risk. This rich biodiversity is fundamentally important to the long-term well-being of its population. But it is threatened by weak regulation of natural resource use and development. This program aims to curb unsustainable natural resource use and damage to terrestrial and marine ecosystems through ecological and local governance capacity assessments that will inform community engagement.

Woman speaks at podium with large screen displaying USAID and Papua New Guinea's "Launch of Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative"

The PNG Biodiversity Program's assessments will inform community engagement across three focus regions: The Bismarck Forest Corridor near Goroka, the Madang Province, and the “Learning Landscape” at the Yopno, Uruwa, Som (YUS) Conservation Area.

Implemented by Cardno International Development, the program presents a unique opportunity to align both conservation and development priorities -- protecting rich resources and enabling PNG to sustainably advance the development of its people.

The Program aims to achieve three goals:

  • strengthen national and provincial level governments to better manage conservation areas,
  • strengthen capacity and coordination at the provincial-level and build linkages to the National Coordinating Committee,
  • and strengthen coordination through the Provincial Development Planning Process.

Ultimately, Cardno aims to accomplish these goals through exposing local people, landowner collectives, small businesses, corporations, and the Government of PNG to the value of biodiversity and promoting the sustainable use of the nation’s natural resources.

“The U.S. government believes that investing in women and girls builds countries that are more prosperous, resilient and self-reliant,” said U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Erin McKee. “Societies that empower women to participate fully in civic and economic life are more prosperous and peaceful, and this is the future we want for Papua New Guinea.”

Gender Equality

Gender-based violence (GBV) is very prevalent in PNG, often considered to be of epidemic proportions. Until recently, there has been little systematic attention to the economic costs of GBV at the level of individual businesses.

The program independently addresses issues of rampant gender inequality and gender-based violence in PNG. But it will also incorporate livelihood programming under the White House’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP).

U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea smiling at a table at the USAID project launch ceremony

The programming under the W-GDP Initiative seeks to address the under-representation of women in the workforce through leading male-oriented gender training. This process will address unhealthy social norms.

It will include engaging with the country's private sector to demonstrate and display the importance of an inclusive business environment on both social welfare and economic success.

This further combines USAID’s conservation and development priorities to build a more equitable and self-reliant PNG.

Cardno's History in Papua New Guinea

Cardno recognizes the strategic importance of the PNG program to USAID’s new biodiversity policy and offers more than 45 years of experience implementing a range of programs in PNG that have helped bolster its capacity and increase national self-reliance.

Cardno’s work in PNG predates the nation’s independence. Our experts have managed, designed and implemented projects for donor organizations, including the European Union, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Australia Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Cardno is a known commodity for a people-centered and flexible approach to implementation, with our guiding policy promising of zero harm to the communities in which we work.

Project leaders walk among traditionally dressed people of Papua New Guinea at project launch celebration


In addition to Cardno’s extensive experience in PNG, the program is bolstered through partnership with three conservation organizations, each with a robust background in implementing conservation programs: The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Woodland Park Zoo - Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program.

Each of Cardno’s partner organizations on the PNG Biodiversity Program has spent from 25 to 50 years engaging in community-based conservation efforts in PNG and brings with them invaluable experience in delivering meaningful, community-led change.

Recent News

In January, Cardno officially launched the five-year USAID PNG Biodiversity Program and the three-year USAID W-GDP Program in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The events were held in two different locations to accommodate the two programs and what they will be doing over the life of program.

The Biodiversity program was launched at the Port Moresby Nature Park where part of the morning program included the release of a threatened spotted cuscus. Afterward, the W-GDP program launched at the Hilton Port Moresby. Attendees included Members of USAID, the U.S. Ambassador to PNG, USAID officials, members of the Government of Papua New Guinea and program staff from Cardno and our partners. 

Papua New Guinea's capital city of Port Moresby cityscape