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After the conservation project: Danau Sentarum National Park and its vicinity--conditions and prospects (1).


The Danau Sentarum conservation project, initiated in 1992 with funding from the British Overseas Development Administration (ODA), (2) aimed to develop management guidelines for the wildlife reserve (now national park). The project ended in July 1997, at a time that ushered in a new and uncertain period for Indonesia. A currency crisis (krisis moneter or krismon) plunged both economy and politics into chaos, ending in the downfall of the Suharto presidency and the eventual election of the current "reform" government led by Abdurrahman Wahid. Along with krismon, some other parts of the widespread Indonesian archipelago have seen continuing violence (i.e. Timor and Maluku). The provinces of Kalimantan have been relatively free of any major conflicts, although West Kalimantan saw some renewed violence against Madurans by Malays and Dayaks in 1998 and in late 2000.

Political and economic uncertainty has continued, however. The national movement toward formal regional autonomy (scheduled for 2001) has been preceded by an informal, de facto autonomy. This has allowed some sectors in West Kalimantan to benefit from more intensive economic ties with foreign countries, especially Sarawak and particularly through the legal and illegal export of agricultural and forest products. Politically, however, there is even more uncertainty about how to deal with autonomy and shrinking subsidies from Jakarta, and this has led to what most locals see as increased corruption by government officials.

These uncertainties have left conservation in West Kalimantan in a very weak position. Not only is there indecision by conservation agencies on how to proceed in the new political climate, but there are strong economic demands being made on West Kalimantan's natural resources, particularly through increased logging and forest conversion activities. (3) In this research note, we take a brief look at the Danau Sentarum National Park (DSNP) and its vicinity after the end of the ODA conservation project. We describe the current threats to the Park which largely come in the form of confusion over Park boundaries, oil palm plantations, logging, gold mining, changes in catchment hydrology, local boundary disputes, fire, and over-fishing. All is not gloomy though, and we consider some bright spots such as NGO activities that have followed the conservation project, positive aspects of local logging, and increased community autonomy. Finally we discuss prospects for DSNP management in this new era.

Current Threats

A new boundary and status of DSNP. Danau Sentarum was officially declared a National Park on 4 February 1999, forming only the latest of many boundaries for the conservation area. However, the new boundary is perhaps one of the most important in light of the proximate threats to the integrity of the area. During the course of the conservation project, three boundaries were proposed. One of these, amounting to 132,000 ha, was taken up in the provincial structure plan in 1996 with the proposed status of National Park. In 1997, the conservation project (Jeanes 1997) proposed a buffer-zone addition to this boundary bringing the total area to 197,000 ha. Much of the "buffer zone" area included areas of tall peat swamp forest.

Little happened with boundary and status proposals for Danan Sentarum until February 1999 when the area was officially gazetted as a National Park. However, the area and boundary information was not released until much later that year. Recent discussion with the Directorate General of Nature Protection and Conservation (PKA) clarified the current status of the new boundary. In the agreement with accompanying maps (signed by the Minister of Forestry and Estate Crops [MOFEC] in February 1999), the size of the National Park is 132,00 ha with a buffer zone of 65,000 ha. The total size (including buffer zone) is 197,000 ha, which equates to the boundary proposed by Jeanes (1997). Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis (Table 1) calculates that at least 57% of the National Park and buffer zone is forest, with the largest percentage being peat swamp forest. Looking at the Park minus the buffer zone, we find that the percentage of forest falls to 46%. The buffer zone area contains large areas of peat swamp fore st, nearly 44,000 ha, which are an important part of the immediate water catchment of the lakes.

The National Park and buffer zone boundary, as detailed above and described in Jeanes (1997), is a logical boundary covering both a variety of habitat types and ensuring the immediate catchment is protected for both biodiversity and the current and future livelihood of local people. However, recent findings suggest that the buffer zone is not yet completely agreed upon, certainly not within West Kalimantan. The most obvious disparity appears in the north of the area where an oil palm concession overlaps the buffer zone by approximately 32,000 hectares. There also seem to be disparities between the provincial planning maps. The Regional Spatial Planning map (1999) shows the area to the north to be production forest whereas the Paduserasi map (1999) (which is the "harmonization" of the Spatial Planning map and the Forest Status map) shows this area to be dryland agriculture and no longer forest land. The DSNP boundary on the Paduserasi map is only 170,000 ha; that is, the proposed DSNP boundary minus the area o f the oil palm plantation.

In the field, the situation is similarly unclear. The oil palm company admits that it is unsure of the boundary and has heard part of its concession may be within the buffer zone. In the meantime, however, the company has started clear felling and planting some areas in the buffer zone. In other parts of the buffer zone, there are active logging concessions. One is located in part of the eastern swamp forest and was recently granted an extension. Another concession is still actively logging in the western part of the buffer zone.

The continuing confusion over the boundary of DSNP, especially the buffer zone, is worrying, as is the difficulty of actually locating boundary markers in the field. Activities, such as oil palm establishment and illegal logging in the buffer zone are potentially immense threats to the integrity of the buffer zone forest and ultimately the lakes and surrounding swamp forest. It is of utmost importance to physically mark the Park and buffer zone boundaries and ensure that activities in the buffer zone are monitored and do not destroy the integrity of these forest areas.

Oil palm plantations. An oil palm plantation is being established to the north of DSNP by PT Plantana Razindo. The company is a joint venture between the Razindo group (an Indonesian holding company with a 31% stake), Hak Corporation Berhad (a Malaysian oil palm company with 49%), and PT Yaniaker (a timber company that originally held a huge concession along the border, with 20%). The original concession is considered to have a high environmental value because it overlaps the buffer zone of DSNP. It also includes a number of local communities' hutan adat.

In March 1996, PT Plantana Razindo was granted a location permit for 47,000 ha. The company was able to acquire this land through its connections with PT Yaniaker. Besides close ties with the military, the company has also been publically supported by a former Minister of Defense and the Governor of West Kalimantan. In 1998, the concession was reduced by 10,250 ha because this land fell within an active timber concession that sought to extend its licence. MOFEC then released 36,750 ha for oil palm development in January 1998. However, at the time of this writing, there is still doubt about the final size of the oil palm concession because of potential overlaps with the DSNP buffer zone.

In addition, PT Plantana Razindo is encountering problems in negotiations with local communities within the concession. The company said that they had decided to enter into negotiations with the Iban community of Tangit IV because of difficulties obtaining other land within the concession. They were not able to come to any agreements with communities in the Seriang area because most of the land was already in the forest fallow cycle for farming. (Apparently, in 1996 when the company first began negotiations with the bupati and local communities, they promised not to establish oil palm plantations on fallow sites. The company would also have to pay more compensation to communities if they wished to acquire such land.)

In August 1999, after an agreement had been reached with Tangit IV, PT Plantana Razindo started building a road south from the community into the peat swamp forests north of DSNP. The plan was to "open" a 3,000 ha block for planting oil palm. Indeed, Tangit IV residents have worries and doubts about the agreement because, according to them, the company only wants access to their forests. They say the company insisted on acquiring land containing tall forest and were not interested in other land the village showed them. But the company said it was the only land that they could get the community to agree to release. The company's estate manager said they still intend to plant oil palm but also wanted to profit from the timber extracted. (He also admitted that their Malaysian logging contractor has already been operating illegally in the area.) Because it is unlikely that the company will be able to develop a large area of land with oil palm and that the peat swamp land near Tangit IV may be unsuitable for oil p alm development, it is increasingly evident that the company is more interested in the timber still available in the area.

Although local communities are disadvantaged because their land has been put under timber and plantation concessions without their agreement, they are not powerless and have already demonstrated their ability to negotiate with the company and in some cases reject the company's offers. Tangit IV has already negotiated up to 11 times with the company to improve the conditions of their agreement. Although the agreement still undoubtedly benefits the company, the ability of the community to maintain negotiations with the company demonstrates that they are able to maintain some bargaining power. Community leaders were aware that if they did not enter into negotiations, they would run the risk of losing the timber on their land without any compensation as MOFEC already granted the land to the company.

Many locals know about the problems with oil palm schemes from their relatives in Sarawak. According to local opinion, they would not have better lives being involved in oil palm. It would especially limit their swidden activities by removing land from the cultivation cycle, and they say land planted in oil palm is no longer fertile because of the land-clearing method. (The soil is turned up such that the thin humus is exposed.) Land like this will not grow secondary forest, but instead would become a field of Imperata grass, an indication of nutrient-poor soil. Thus, in the end, the locals fear becoming landless workers for the company.

In addition, there is the problem of clean water as the northern periphery of DSNP forms an important source of water for the lakes. Run-off from chemical fertilizers and pesticides used on the plantations will be a severe threat to the national park, its flora and fauna, and the people who live off its resources. After having obtained the various permits from the local government and MOFEC, the company plans to build an oil palm refinery just north of the lakes. As this factory will be located upstream, its waste run-off will flow into the lakes, and unless it is filtered or otherwise cleaned, it will change the nutrient status of these black water, nutrient-poor lakes. Furthermore, the disappearance of the forest cover and subsequent drainage of the peat for planting oil palm will lead to oxidation of the peat and an increased risk of peat fires during the dry season. Significant changes to the water-retaining function of peats and changes in water nutrient status may affect fisheries and threaten the survi val of those species dependent on black water environments (see Jeanes and Meijaard, this volume).

It thus appears that oil palm development could have severe negative impacts on the ecology of DSNP, but on the other hand, if well organized, the plantations could provide an economic boost to the area around DSNP. If such development could somehow be organized to alleviate pressures on DSNP, it could have a positive impact, for instance, by providing work to people that now live in and use the Park. Clearly, for this to happen, the oil palm plantation would have to be very well developed and monitored. A professionally executed environmental impact assessment would need to show what the possible impacts on DSNP could be and how these can be counteracted. Also, possible changes in concession boundaries may need to be considered. It is not too late to demand such activities, and it may be the only way for conservation and development to go hand in hand.

Illegal logging. Since the 1970s, the forests within and surrounding DSNP have been allocated to timber concessions such as PT Yamaker, Rimba Ramin, Tawang Meranti, Benua Indah, and Lanjak Deras. Yet illegal logging activities in the conservation area began long before the project ended in 1997. In general, the loggers were locals who received capital for logging from legitimate logging companies. These would then buy the wood without official documents. Locals refer to this method of logging as tebang banjir--overflow cutting. The logging companies themselves have long used the waterways of DSNP as a means of transporting rafts of logs, and the smaller illegal rafts are added to the larger, documented rafts for transport to sawmills on the main Kapuas river. However, such illegal logging is generally low-capacity.

Since krismon, however, the level of illegal logging has increased and the flow of illegally-cut timber has shifted dramatically. Today, local communities and Malaysian financiers are the chief players, rather than the Indonesian timber concessionaires. In February 2000, there were about twelve small financiers (known in Indonesia as cukong, and locally as tokay) operating in locations along the border between Nanga Badau and Lanjak. All are from Sarawak. Four of these tokay have built substantial sawmills near the main government road that runs to the north of DSNP. In fact, according to local reports in August 2000, two additional sawmills have been built in the Seriang and Guntul areas. It is likely that the area being logged will expand to accommodate sawmill capacity.

The forests being logged are mainly along the northern periphery of DSNP, and in some cases into the northern buffer zone. Timber cutting is also occurring within DSNP.

The timber cut is sold as kayu balok or beams of various sizes which are transported across the border into Sarawak by truck along the government road (see Wadley 1998). Much of the cutting is within forests claimed by local communities. In the past, communities that fell within the logging concessions had little power over their forests. Now even Indonesian timber companies with concessions elsewhere in the province are hiring community negotiators and public relations officers to deal with local community demands for more compensation. In the DSNP area, with only two concession still operating, the timber companies must cooperate more publicly with local communities, and organizing communities into development co-operatives is the way they are doing this. (5)

Gold mining. An additional threat to clean water comes from illegal gold mining along the tributaries of the upper Kapuas River, which has been on the increase since 1998. Gold mining along the Kapuas has occurred since historical times, and many shopkeepers in the area keep mining equipment for the periodic "gold rushes" (see Giesen 1987). Unfortunately, in addition to soil erosion from the use of pumps, mercury washes out into nearby waterways, having been used by miners to separate gold from other minerals. Samples of fish taken in the early 1990s revealed background levels of mercury. However, a recent study by Universitas Tanjungpura (6) found mercury levels in the Kapuas at Semitau to be 69 times above tolerable levels; mercury was also detected elsewhere in the Kapuas River (see also Indonesian Observer 2000). The lakes of DSNP and the Kapuas River form an interdependent system with the tributaries where illegal gold mining is occurring. Water flows back and forth between the Kapuas and the lakes in th e annual flood-drought cycle (see Klepper 1994), and this may bring mercury run-off into parts of DSNP. This has profound dangers for the food chain dependent on the lakes--from plankton and fish to birds such as eagles, kingfishers, and storks. Local human reliance on fishing is also threatened, not to mention the downstream and cross-border consumers who buy upper Kapuas fish in the markets.

Changes in catchment hydrology. Changes in hydrology and water quality due to changes in the Kapuas River basin also form a threat. For example, in 1986 floods were already more pronounced than in past decades, and this trend will continue with further changes in land cover. In addition, changes in water quality may become more evident, with negative repercussions for the Park, its biota, and human inhabitants. Pollution is the obvious form, and mercury and oil (making fish unpalatable) immediately spring to mind. However, more insidious but with significant long-term effects is gradual eutrophication (nutrient enrichment) of the waters. This may occur due to pollution (e.g. domestic wastes and fertilizer residues) but also due to erosion, as an increase in soil particles in water will also increase nutrient levels. As a result, there may be an increase in algae (in the worst case, toxic blooms of blue-green algae), increased turbidity, and increased opportunities for weeds such as water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) to proliferate. The Mahakam Lakes in East Kalimantan were very similar to the Kapuas Lakes in the early 20th century. But at present the Mahakam Lakes are severely degraded, choked with water hyacinth and giant mimosa, with poor water quality and a significant decline in fisheries production. According to fisheries studies in the 1980s, this decline went hand in hand with logging in the catchment. Although the conclusion was never made, the obvious link is via water quality.

Local boundary disputes. Since the expansion of illegal logging, boundary disputes have been occurring between local communities. In at least one case, the dispute was over forest land that had never been part of any traditional community territory. And in another still-unsettled case, one community is making use of maps drawn under a conservation project's community-mapping program. In some instances, the disputes were settled by cockfight with the winning community gaining possession of the disputed land and forest. This has created bitter feelings between neighboring and generally closely related communities. Locals recognize all this as a rush to make claims on timber land so that the local profits from logging might go to them. Although mostly outside DSNP boundaries, these disputes have important implications for the conservation area (namely over local use and challenge of conservation project-derived maps), something with which any future projects will have to contend.

Fire danger. Since the early 1990s, the incidence and extent of fires in the swamp forests of DSNP has been increasing rapidly. Dennis and Erman (this volume) estimate that between mid-1990 and mid-1997 the burnt area within the swamps increased from 8,502 hectares to 18,410 hectares--an 117% overall increase. During this period, there were two El Nino years (1991 and 1994) resulting in very dry conditions that exacerbated the risk of fire. The El Nino that followed in 1997 had the most severe consequences of any El Nino in the 20th century. In 1997, fires were reported in DSNP, but no estimates of the area burned are available. It is likely that the area burned during the 1990s could now be over 20,000 hectares. Research in the swamps of DSNP shows that once an area has burned it is much more likely to bum again. Therefore, we can expect that unless serious measures are taken to prevent and control fires in the future, the area of burning will increase every dry season.

Up until now there has not been a perceived fire problem in the areas surrounding the swamps of DSNP. Fire is used regularly in a controlled manner as part of the swidden agriculture system. However, increased logging activities, both legal and illegal, are now damaging the forest in such a way as to make them more prone to fires. Opening up of the forest canopy is leading to a general drying out of the forest. The establishment of the oil palm plantation is also a cause for concern. Experience from other parts of Indonesia shows that oil palm companies often use fire in land clearing activities with some of the fires escaping from the intended area of burn. Fires lead to significant changes in the vegetation, particularly dominance by fire-tolerant and pioneer species. On the whole, the trend is towards impoverishment--significantly lower biodiversity, lower biomass, and reduced conservation value. This would also affect fisheries, as DSNP fish and fisheries are dependent on forest biomass.

Fisheries. Since krismon, the fisher people of DSNP superficially benefitted from rises in local fish prices. For example, one kilogram of cage-reared toman (Channa micropeltes) cost Rp. 2,500 before compared to Rp. 4,500 after the crisis. For the aquarium fish, ulang uli (Botia macracanthus), the pre-krismon price was Rp. 250 per fish, rising to Rp. 1,500 after the crisis. The price of processed fish also increased--smoked lais (Krytopterus sp.) with prices of Rp. 15,000 before and Rp. 25,000 per kg after, and also salted/dried fish (ikan asin) rising from Rp. 2,500 to Rp. 4,500. The price of bet utuk (Oxyeleotris marmorata) also increased from Rp. 30,000 to Rp. 75,000. In dollar terms, the price differences are not all that large, and most have actually declined. This may reflect increased fishing to make up for losses in income and/or a willingness to take lower (dollar) prices. However, for locals without access to foreign currencies (such as those not benefitting from the illegal logging boom), this mean s being unable to buy fish to eat.

Table 2 shows the estimated annual catch in DSNP for four types of fish. The data were collected from buyers and a cross-section of fishermen. They suggest both a decline in species availability and increased fishing effort between 1997 and 2000.

The people of DSNP manage an abundant and rich source of fish, but local fishers are already beginning to sense that species are declining due to overexploitation and that the situation is worsening rapidly (cf. Dudley, this volume). For example, fishers report that since 1997 it has become increasingly difficult to find young toman for rearing in cages. The lais fish for smoking is becoming rare, and it is increasing difficult to find large beilda fish (Chitala lopis). Finding small fish as food for the caged fish is also a problem. One obvious example from the 1990s of over-exploitation at DSNP is the rare and valuable arowana or siluk (Scleropagesformosus). It was fairly abundant throughout the 1980s but is now almost completely extinct due to over-fishing in the late 1980s. (The fish commands a very high price as an aquarium fish.)

Each village within DSNP uses local adat to regulate fishing (see Harwell 1997). However, local adat is very much focused on the regulation of fishing gear within the villages' fishing areas. It does not address currently pressing problems, such as the catching of breeding females which is a factor in species decline. Local adat must be allowed and encouraged to deal with these problems. Also of importance is improving the awareness of all stakeholders that for such a large and vulnerable resource as fish there must be a combined effort by local people, the fisheries service, and provincial government (especially sub-district level) to maintain the species richness and abundance.

Other threats. Current economic conditions have probably exacerbated the export orientation of the border economy. With the greatly weakened rupiah, the demand for Malaysian ringgit may have increased exports of certain local products. This is certainly true of timber, but it might also apply to fish caught in the lakes. Fish and turtles have been sold across the border in the past (e.g. Wadley 1998), and this has likely increased since krismon. Market hunting may have also increased, although there are no data on this (Wadley 1999).

Finally, the local economic boom in logging has visibly increased the population of settlements such as Lanjak and Nanga Badau. Although local swidden rice agriculture may not have expanded to accommodate this increased population, gardening of vegetables by local women for the nearby markets has increased. In addition, waste production has likely risen, and all human wastes (from feces to discarded candy wrappers) eventually find their way into the DSNP waterways. How either of these affect the DSNP habitat needs to be studied. For example, clearing for swiddens and settlements along major rivers in the Park has contributed to a decline in riparian forest. This habitat is much like the stunted swamp forest (Giesen, this volume), but includes river-associated species such as Gluta renghas (rengas) and Lagerstroemia speciosa (bungur). It is also a habitat for unique species, such as Rhodoleia sp., a new tree species discovered in 1993 (of an uncommon family, Hamamelidaceae, with the nearest relative on Mt. Kin abalu).

Bright Spots

NGO activity. For the most part, the conservation project's activities ended with the project itself. However, the livelihood development activities involving "conservation products" initiated by the project (see Wickham 1997) were continued by Yayasan Dian Tama (YDT), a local NGO or LSM (lembaga swadaya masyarakat), from July 1997 to June 2000. YDT is currently seeking external funding to continue its projects in the DSNP area. The conservation products in question are honey, beeswax, damar, basketry, woven blankets, fish skin, and water hyacinth paper.

Although there are rules against such activities as taking timber and fishing for the endangered arowana fish, locals could not make a legitimate living without fishing for other species, harvesting honey and wax, and collecting rattan to make fishing and other implements. (7) Thus, these income-generating projects provide opportunities for locals to benefit in other ways from the surrounding natural resources. Local institutes are encouraged to exercise oversight and ensure that the benefits from the natural resources are obtained within limits. Without such oversight and self-policing, overexploitation may result.

The exploitation of rattan provides a good example: Locals typically sell rattan to the logging companies for tying up logs into rafts, and they receive about Rp. 2500 for 50 five-meter lengths. In contrast, if they make handicrafts from three five-meter lengths of rattan, they can earn Rp. 2500-5000 (depending on the size of the item made). Thus, in this way, the pressure on local forest products can be relieved, and locals can earn more money from less product.

YDT has been engaged with 24 of 55 communities within the DSNP area in a number of activities:

* Establish markets for conservation products. The local market is in Pontianak; national markets are in Jakarta, Bali, and Yogyakarta; and international markets are in Singapore and Great Britain.

* Train locals to ensure that natural resource management and use of the environment is done conservatively. This training includes demonstration plots for rattan in the communities of Tekenang, Pengembung, Nanga Sumpak, and Lubok Pengael. These "demplot" involve locals from the start--from seedling cultivation and planting to replacement planting and monitoring. (This activity was preceded in the early 1990s by Charles Peters who trained locals to improve tembesu [Fagraea fragrans] and rattan stocks by means of thinning young tembesu regrowth and replanting rattan in depleted areas.)

* Improve harvest techniques and quality of honey and beeswax from the wild bee, Apis dorsata. Honey is taken to Pontianak in jerry-cans, bottled by PD Dian Niaga, and sold there. Some is also sold by weight to Jakarta. PD Dian Niaga also buys beeswax to make into candles for sale in Pontianak and Jakarta. (Prior to 1997 before forest fire smoke caused a decline in honey production, locals in DSNP made dipped and bamboo candles themselves.)

* Assist locals in forest fibers basket and handicraft production. Forest fibers include rattans, bemban (Donax canaeformis), resam (Dicranopteris linearis), senggang (Hornstedtia scyphifera), water hyacinth, panto' (Eugeissonia spp.), and ijok (Arenga pinata).

* Assist production of paper from water hyacinth for envelops, stationery, and gift boxes. (Cultivation of this plant should be restricted given its aggressive spread under favorable nutrient conditions [see above].)

* Standardize belida (Chitala lopis) fish skin and market to Yogyakarta for processing as material for making bags, wallets, belts, and the like.

* Endeavor to market conservation products collected by locals including damar and traditional woven blankets. The latter is considered a conservation product because dyeing materials come from leaves, roots, and fruits of wild and semi-domesticated plants.

* In addition, conduct routine meetings and visits with local project teams; increase production and sale of NTFPs to markets; increase the number of communities participating in producing and selling these products; increase training to guarantee quality products; and maintain bandung boats for transporting products downriver and coordinate accountancy.

"Bicycle" logging method. Most of the co-operative logging being carried out in the DSNP area today involves crews of Sambas Malays, with the heaviest machinery being chainsaws and bicycles: Sawyers fell selected trees and cut them into balok. These beams are then loaded onto bicycles which are heavily reinforced. The bicycles, carrying one or two beams on either side, are pushed along a track from the cutting site to the main road or waterway. Although most of this activity occurs outside DSNP boundaries, this method of logging may be an excellent example of low-impact timber harvesting, a very important factor is maintaining forest cover in the DSNP catchment.

Community empowerment. The de facto autonomy that has swept the nation is also seen at the local level in a much greater sense of community empowerment. Communities are taking their future into their own hands, negotiating with tokay and their local liaisons, oil palm plantation companies, and the older timber concession companies. While some of their activities may seem short-sighted, such as allowing their forests to be logged, this empowerment presents an important though difficult opportunity for conservation efforts. While the DSNP management plan stressed the importance of community involvement, any future conservation efforts in DSNP will have to deal with communities, their concerns and demands, at a much different level--as entities that may demand much more from yet another scheme from the downriver government--be it oil palm or conservation.

Wildlife Management

Various papers in this volume (Jeanes and Meijaard, Russon et al., Frazier, Giesen, Walter, Dudley, van Balen and Dennis) have emphasized the importance of the DSNP area for the preservation of Borneo's biodiversity. The area has high biodiversity values, both in regional and global terms. However, these papers also stress that the present protected area of 132,000 ha leaves out significant sections of wildlife habitat, especially to the north and east of the Park. As it stands now, the National Park consists of only 41% of closed canopy forest, with the largest contiguous forest area being less than 40,000 ha. For some species such as the orangutan (see Russon et al., this volume), peat swamp and hill stream fishes (Jeanes and Meijaard, this volume), and crocodiles (see Frazier, this volume), the available amount of habitat is insufficient to safeguard the species' long-term survival in the area. Other species that are not covered specifically in this volume, but of which there is considerable ecological und erstanding, may also be unable to survive because of insufficient habitat. This includes larger mammals such as sambar deer (Cervus unicolor), bearded pig (Sus barbatus), clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), gibbons (Hylobates agilis, Hylobates muelleri), birds that require relatively large ranges such as forest raptors, and reptiles require dry season refuges (see Frazier, and Jeanes and Meijaard, this volume).

For the long-term survival of these species it is of vital importance that more protected habitat is added to the existing Park. Several options for this have been proposed. For example, implementing the 198,000 ha boundary (Russon et al., this volume), including most forest west of the Embaloh River, and/or establishing a corridor to the Bentuang Karimun National Park (Meijaard et al., 1996; Russon et al., this volume). All options would require considerable management input from local communities and conservation authorities. To provide not only wildlife habitat but also forests for human use (e.g. timber and non-timber forest products, wildlife products, ecotourism), appropriate zoning of the extension would be required, separating wildlife corezones from limited use areas and buffer zones. Locals may be particularly eager for such zoning as well as "forest enhancement" projects given the current level of threats to their community forests.

In the corridor proposal, the combined size of the two parks would add up to more than 1,000,000 ha, and thus provide a suitable area for the long-term survival of most species now present in the region. But a mosaic zone of fields and secondary forest fallow presently separates the two national parks, and replanting some of this area would be required. The main government road between Lanjak and Benua Martinus dissects the area, and road-building is likely to increase in order to gain access to more timber. For example, the road from Ukit-Ukit down the east bank of the Leboyan river is planned to extend eventually to the Kapuas river, opening up the extensive lowland forests there for logging. These roads by themselves and as they exist now should not be a major obstruction to migrating species, as long as forests near the road is adequately protected.

The other main constraint to the survival of DSNP's wildlife is the presently inadequate level of Park management by the conservation authorities and cooperation with communities within and peripheral to DSNP. Wildlife poaching in and around DSNP is common and affects rare and globally threatened species such as orangutans. Forest areas, both inside and around the National Park, are declining in area, mainly because of legal and illegal logging activities, burning, and inappropriate land-use allocation. The latter is exemplified by licensing the development of oil palm plantations in areas still covered in primary or secondary forest, in actual contravention of Indonesian law. (8)

Danau Sentarum's Future

Following Rijksen and Meijaard (1999), there are proximate and ultimate causes of the poorly functioning conservation system in Indonesia. It is clear that successful conservation of DSNP's biodiversity will require a comprehensive management approach addressing all these impediments (cf. Wells et al. 1999:87-90).

* Proximate impediments

* Poaching: Required solutions--Education and awareness, law enforcement, culturally appropriate livestock programs

* Habitat destruction: Required solutions--Expand protected area network, improve protected management, support replanting, anti-fire campaigns

* Ultimate impediments

* Misconceptions, local and national: Required solutions--Education and awareness campaigns, guide appropriate integration of conservation and development, deploy applied research and monitoring for feedback

* Institutional deficiencies: Required solutions--Reorganization and technical training (e.g. train local people as conservation managers), reallocation and technical training, NGO involvement and control, international support, improve legal framework (e.g. provide legal and/or financial incentives for local communities to preserve and replant their own forests), support and encourage local adat and its development of new rules to meet the current needs

* Ecological impediments: Required solutions--Integrate planning, expand protected area network and protected areas

* Financial impediments: Required solutions--Special tax to support conservation, international support, NGO support

Local solutions to the problems being faced in DSNP could include:

* Collaboration with and support of local communities and conservation authorities to improve conservation management. (Local communities must be compensated in some manner for inclusion of their land in a protected area, and given the new era of local empowerment, they will surely demand it.)

* Creating local support for conservation (through NGO involvement, and integrated conservation and development [see above; Wickham 1997; Wells et al. 1999]).

* Development of ecotourism. Prospects for income generation through ecotourism are promising, especially if considering how close the Sarawak capital, Kuching, is from DSNP. Once the official border crossing is opened from Lubok Antu to Nanga Badau, cooperative tours might develop with Malaysian tour companies. The road has already made is easier for illegal loggers to extract timber from the area, and it might be used to bring foreign tourists and their money back into the area. However, ecotourism may have negative repercussions, including pollution, poaching, land clearance for facilities, benefits accruing to foreign tour operators, cultural insensitivity, and prostitution. It would therefore require strict management.

The crux of long-term survival of DSNP, and its current value to conservation, depends on the willingness and ability to allocate sufficient funds for this purpose. Mobilization of local and national funds is unlikely, as national resources are dwindling and local incomes remain well below the national average. The regional economic importance of DSNP is mainly derived from extraction of fish and forest produce, and it is unlikely that non-extractive forms of land use such as ecotourism will expand and gain significance in the near future. Modest gains that have been achieved in sustainable management of the area during the past decade have been due to external assistance, and this dependence is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

To date, most assistance has been provided by bilateral donors (esp. DfID), but other alternatives may be more appropriate for the long-term inputs envisaged, which are beyond the horizon of most bilateral donor agencies. Because of the Park's great value to conservation, Global Environmental Facility (GEF) support could be obtained if a local agency is willing and able to develop a substantial proposal for a "Block B" grant. Wetlands International made an attempt in this direction, but focused narrowly on fish and fisheries conservation. GEF emerged out of the 1992 Rio Conference and provides funding to developing countries for projects that yield local as well as global environmental benefits. GEF projects address problems in the areas of biodiversity, climate change, international waters, ozone depletion, and land-degradation. The Facility does not usually carry out projects itself, but operates through World Bank, UNDP, or UNEP. Conservation efforts at DSNP would easily qualify for funding via the biodive rsity focal area (see King and Giesen 1997).

DSNP is Indonesia's second Ramsar site (i.e. a wetland of international importance), and Indonesia (by means of PKA) might approach the Ramsar Bureau in Gland, Switzerland, with a request to have DSNP placed on the Montreaux Record. The Montreaux Record is a register of wetland sites on the "List of Wetlands of International Importance" where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution, or other human interference. Placing the Park on this list does not guarantee funding, but will draw extra international attention to the area. The "Management Guidance Procedure" may be invoked for sites on the Montreaux Record, and in the past this has often been very successful, both in advising national and local authorities on technical solutions, and in drawing public attention to the issues involved in the wise management of important sites.

A third approach that may mobilize international funds is the establishment of a "Friends of Danau Sentarum" foundation, whereby private or corporate donors provide (modest) funds on an annual basis, to assist in the management of an area, and provide regular monitoring. This approach is certainly not unusual in Western countries, but remains novel in the Indonesian context.

Lastly, conservation management along similar lines as that in the Gunung Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra may provide suitable options. The Leuser area (2.5 million ha) was designed based on ecological requirements such as water catchments, ranges of key conservation species, and the needs of local people. The program operates with a conservation-centered objective, and was designed to deploy a quid pro quo approach: It may provide support for locally-desired rural development in exchange for hard commitments to conservation by the local communities living around the Ecosystem. Implementation of the program started in 1996 with a budget covered by European Union support of some 32 million ECU, in addition to 18 million ECU in Indonesian contribution. The Leuser Ecosystem was given out as a conservation concession in the custody of the Leuser International Foundation (YLI). The Foundation is an NGO composed of influential Indonesian citizens having a strong affinity with northern Sumatra (Rijksen and Meij aard, 1999). The Leuser Programme has had setbacks and is, for instance, still constantly fighting illegal logging and poaching. However, in a recent review of 20 Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDP) in Indonesia, the Leuser approach came out as one of the very few that showed promise (Wells et al., 1999), while "most attempts to enhance biodiversity conservation in Indonesia through ICDPs are unconvincing and unlikely to be successful under current conditions." This suggests that the semi-privatized conservation approach followed in Leuser may provide a suitable tool for a similar program in DSNP.

Without a very large financial input, conservation will simply not work. Such funding will not be easily found in the short term, and an easy solution is to allow local communities to use the land in the way they choose. Yet, if the protected area is significantly enlarged, even if this is only a paper act, there is a future option for well-funded conservation. It might take decades to get the necessary money, but at least the land will be designated for conservation, and therefore cannot be claimed by plantations or other interests. Even if most forest will be logged in that time, they could still be replanted in cooperation with local communities.

There are no easy solutions to these problems, but the alternative is not reaching high enough. This would surely mean that extinction of species such as orangutan within the next five to ten years. (Considering the current state of other former Bornean strongholds of the orangutan such as Kutai and Tanjung Puting, it may mean losing the entire species from Borneo.) DSNP endemics would be lost altogether--over 30 plant species and perhaps more than a dozen fish species. Declining biodiversity in the area will surely also mean increased impoverishment of local people. Conservation must be taken very seriously at all levels of society, and both immediate and long-term material sacrifice must be made locally, nationally, and internationally.
Table 1

Land Cover Composition of DSNP (132,000 ha) and Buffer Zone (65,000 ha).
(Land cover map derived from interpretation of SPOT satellite imagery
dated May/June 1997).

Land Cover Type Area in hectares Percentage of
 total area

Lowland hill forest (closed canopy) 5,721 2.9

Lowland hill forest (open canopy) 580 0.3

Heath forest 758 0.4

Swamp forest (closed canopy) 34,717 17.6

Swamp forest (open canopy) 6,099 3

Peat swamp forest (closed canopy 53,224 27

Peat swamp forest (open canopy) 11,749 5.9

Dwarf swamp forest 25,187 12.8

Forest re-growth 4,249 2.1

Swamp grass 281 0.1

Agriculture 7,900 4

Burn scar 18,204 9.2

Water 28,311 14.3

 Total 197,000 100
Table 2

Estimated Annual Catch in DSNP

Fish Type 1997-98 2000

Aquarium Fish (ulang uli) 5,490,000 fish (wet season) 8,625,000 fish

Caged Fish (toman) 2,218,000 kg (total year) 1,795,000 kg

Smoked Fish (lais) 70,500 kg (wet season) 45,500 kg

Salted/dried Fish 364,500 kg (total year) 325,300 kg

Betutuk 40,350 kg (dry season) 30,750 kg

(1.) Any conclusions drawn or opinions expressed by the authors of this article are not necessarily shared by the authors' institutions. Such conclusions or opinions, and any remaining errors, are the sole responsibility of the authors.

(2.) Now the Department for International Development (DfID).

(3.) Conservation throughout Indonesia is also under threat, mainly related to the high local value of natural resources for export, expansion of agriculture, and lack of law enforcement (e.g. Kompas 2000; Riau Pos 2000; Jakarta Post 2000).

(4.) PT Yamaker's concession has been taken over by PT Perum Perhutani III, a "private" government company (perusahaan swasta pemerintah).

(5.) Co-operatives operate under the Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia Nomor 6 Tahun 1999 tentang Pengusahaan Hutan dan Pemungutan Hasil Hutan pada Hutan Produksi, namely Pasal 10.

(6.) Dr. Thamrin Usman, Ketua Pusat Studi Agroindustri dan Agrobisnis, Untan, using a GRAB sample method.

(7.) Such items have been collected and produced in the lakes area for a very long time (e.g. Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, The Netherlands, Ministerie van Kolonien, Aantekeningen betreffende Borneo [1802-1827], Algemeen verslag van de boven en binnen landen ter West Kuste Borneo gelegen aan de rivier Kapouas, 20 December 1823, Provisional Gezaghebber van de Westkust C. Hartmann).

(8.) Ministerial Decree No. 376/Kpts-II/1998 stipulates that concessions should be on land that was open rather than vegetated, not owned by anyone, and officially classified as suitable for agriculture (see Potter and Lee 1998:13-14; Casson 1999).


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Date:Jan 1, 2000
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