Govt to set aside 30 million ha for rare species

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | 08/10/2010 

The government plans to set aside 30 million hectares of protected forests for habitats for endangered species in order to prevent their extinction.

Forestry Ministry Zulkifli Hasan warned that the shrinking number of rare species, such as the Sumatran tiger, the Javanese rhinoceros and the orangutan was due to habitat infringement by private companies and local communities.

The minister said the government would also allocate 43 million hectares of primary forest for the rare species.

“Primary forests cannot be converted; they should be declared a buffer area,” Zulkifli said as quoted by Antara news network on Monday.

He said that in 2005, the government had established 535 forest and marine conservation areas.

“But, the management of nine of the conservation areas has been handed over to the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry,” he said.

Indonesia is home to a vastly diverse collection of flora and fauna, many of which are found in Indonesia’s tropical forests.

Indonesian loses more than 1 million hectares of forest per year to deforestation, which is the primary threat facing the country’s endangered species.

Minister Zulkifli said conflict of interests over forest usage had damaged biodiversity protection efforts.

Speaking at a workshop on national nature conservation day, Zulkifli said that the Sumatran tiger now numbered around 400, down from 800 in 2005 and that the Javan tiger was extinct.

Indonesia previously had three sub-species of tiger, two of which – the Bali and Javan tigers - were declared extinct in the 1940s and 1980s, respectively.

The ministry earlier said that Indonesia needed at least US$175 million to double the population of wild Sumatran tigers to 800 by 2022.

The money would be used to address the main threats to the tigers from habitat destruction, lack of prey and poaching to the illegal trade of tiger products.

The number of wild tigers worldwide is now 3,200, down from an estimated 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century.

Of the nine tiger sub-species that once roamed the Earth, only six still remain: the Sumatran, Bengal, Amur, Indochinese, South China and Malayan tigers.

Several conservation organizations have declared 2010 the Year of the Tiger.

The population of Sumatran elephants in Indonesia has plummeted to about 2,000 from around 8,000 in 2000, Zulkifli continued.

Another threatened species is the orangutan, of which an estimated 1,000 were killed in 2006 by massive forest fires and habitat loss.

The government said that in the last 35 years, about 50,000 orangutans have died due to deforestation and habitat loss.

About 90 percent of orangutans live on Borneo and Sumatra.

It is estimated there are 6,667 orangutans in Sumatra, mostly in the Leuser ecosystem, and 54,567 in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo.

The remaining 10 percent are in Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature said the orangutan species native to Kalimantan was endangered. Orangutans in Sumatra are critically endangered.


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