Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Kutai National Park
Kutai National Park is a 200,000 hectare low-land tropical rain forest located in the Province of East Kalimantan (Borneo).
The park has a very rich biodiversity of 903 species of Flora, 79 Mammals including 11 primates a.o. the most endangered Orangutan, and 252 species of Birds.
As a National Park, it is supposed to be safely protected against any kinds of disturbances for whatever reasons. But unfortunately, like many national parks in Indonesia, it is not safe from trespassing, poaching and especially illegal logging.
Things became worst after Oil was found and pumped in neighboring Bontang area and later on inside the Park itself. Many people then came and built homes illegally inside the Park. Unlike other national parks in the world, this Park has roads, houses, gas station, bus terminal, etc.
According to the data of the Department of Forestry, now there are 23,712 hectares of the Park land which is illegally occupied by 24,339 people.
Moreover, last June a joint research team of Geological and Biological experts from the national research institute (LIPI), the Department of Mining & Energy, the Department of Forestry and Gajah Mada University, discovered Coal deposits of 12 million tons under the illegal settlements.
Unable to stop the increasing number of illegal people living inside the Park, the management of the Park then proposed a solution i.e. to turn the inhabited area into a special zone with rules protecting its dwellers and the rest of the Park.
However, the Minister of Forestry in Jakarta has other plan i.e. to remove 23,712 hectares of the illegally occupied land from the 200,000 hectare park, a move which need to be approved by the national parliament (DPR) in Jakarta. And it seems that the lawmakers are supporting this plan.
Conservationists suspected the Minister's plan as a covert attempt to hand over the land to Coal Miners who have been longing to take the Coal.
Last month an oil storage tank of state owned petroleum company Pertamina over flowed spilling around 5,000 barrels of crude oil into the Park land. According to an environmental investigator local residents claim the oil spill originated from inside the underground well. The spilled oil damaged tracts of the forest in the park. Some of the Oil also flowed into the Sangata River.
The investigator estimates that thousands of animals, including rare types of fish and reptiles, would be affected by the oil spill.
For details on the above, please click here, here, here, and here.
Considering the above, I hope that the central government in Jakarta and provincial government of East Kalimantan would seriously maintain & protect the Kutai National Park i.e. by keeping the whole Park area unchanged. That way the rain forest, the animals and plants would be remain safe.
Photos: Courtesy of 1) Sudewi, 2&3) The Jakarta Globe