Lorentz National Park is located in the Indonesian province of Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya (western New Guinea). With an area of 25,056 km² (9,674 mi²), it is the largest national park in South-East Asia. In 1999 Lorentz was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
An outstanding example of the biodiversity of New Guinea, Lorentz is one of the most ecologically diverse national parks in the world. It is the only nature reserve in the Asia-Pacific region to contain a full altitudial array of ecosystems spanning from marine areas, mangrove, tidal and freshwater swamp forest, lowland and montane rainforest, alpine areas, and equatorial glaciers. At 4884 meters, Puncak Jaya (formerly Carstensz Pyramid) is the tallest mountain between the Himalayas and the Andes.
Birdlife International has called Lorentz Park “probably the single most important reserve in New Guinea” (Birdlife International, 1999)
Lorentz Park contains many unmapped and unexplored areas, and is certain to contain many species of plants and animals as yet unknown to Western science. Local communities' ethnobotanical and ethnozoological knowledge of the Lorentz biota is also very poorly documented.
The park is named for Hendrikus Albertus Lorentz, a Dutch explorer who passed through the area on his 1909-1910 expedition.
The forests of Lorentz encompass the traditional lands of several ethnic groups, including the Asmat, Amungme, Dani, Sempan, and Nduga. It is widely acknowledged that conservation management strategies for the park will have to incorporate the needs and aspirations of these peoples if the park is to succeed in protecting biodiversity. Moreover, cultural diversity is another important measure of success for the park as well.
The main threats to the biodiversity of Lorentz are from commercial logging, forest conversion for plantation agriculture, smallholder agricultural conversion, mining/oil/gas development, and the illegal species trade. Global warming also poses a substantial threat.
As of 2005, there was no reported commercial logging or other large-scale threats present inside the park. There are no currently active forest conversion projects, and agricultural conversion is minimal. The illegal species trade is known to be a serious problem. The large Freeport gold/copper mining operation has been active for decades to the west and north of the park but is not active inside the park boundaries. Oil exploration inside and to the northeast of the park is ongoing.
The overall health of the biodiversity of Lorentz Park is currently excellent. While logging and other threats have yet to materialize, it is likely that this will become a threat in the future. Climate change poses a very real threat, but its specific implications for Lorentz are uncertain.
As of 2005, there were no park staff or guards assigned to Lorentz. However, the park's success largely depends on local communities' understanding of and support for conservation, rather than external enforcement alone. Several conservation organizations are working in the Lorentz area.