Biologically, New Ireland is one of the least-studied regions of Papua New Guinea - its mountainous southern zone has long been considered both a high priority for biodiversity conservation and a major "scientific unknown". Conservation International agreed to organize a rapid assessment of the forests and wildlife of southern New Ireland. The purpose of the rapid assessment exercise was threefold: to assess the biodiversity of southern New Ireland, to field-test rapid-survey methodology in Papua New Guinea, and to share expertise and methodologies with staff scientists from Papua New Guinea's Department of Environment and Conservation.
Bruce M. Beehler is Conservation International's senior representative for Melanesia and the Asia-Pacific region and coauthor of Birds of New Guinea. Leanne E. Alonso is director of the Rapid Assessment Program.