5 Feb 2018
New Britain's birds are among the least known to science. A group of researchers ventured into the island's unforgiving wilderness to find out how these species were coping with the loss of their forest. They found that some had adapted - but many more need urgent protection before it's too late.
Perched on the outer edge of the Malay Archipelago, and sheltered from the vast expanse of the Pacific only by the thin strip of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea’s New Britain boasts an impressive diversity of fauna and flora. The island’s volatile colonial and volcanic history have made it almost accustomed to upheaval. However, the most recent disturbance is to its forest landscape, with over 20% of its lowland forest being lost between 1989 and 2000. The culprits are palm oil plantations and industrial logging, which are threatening to turn New Britain’s rich biodiversity into a monoculture reflecting our consumerism – or worse, a barren, deforested wasteland.