The Central Jakarta District Court on Tuesday (29/11) ruled against a civil lawsuit seeking to protect the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh. (Photo courtesy of World Conservation Society)

Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Might Save Indonesia's World Heritage Sites


OCTOBER 26, 2016

Jakarta. With three of Indonesia's national parks having been included in the World Heritage in Danger list since 2011, the Indonesian government and the Unesco World Heritage Committee have been scrambling to find a way to save them.

The parks in question are the Mount Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, which all form part of the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS), one of the biggest conservation areas in Southeast Asia.

Among the measures undertaken by the government and the Unesco World Heritage Committee to get the TRHS out of danger is with a five-year action plan, known as the Desired State of Conservation. The plan involves a monitoring program and corrective measures.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, seven main indicators listed in the action plan must be prioritized to save the parks.

"Forest cover conditions, population trends of key species, road building, mining, regional boundaries, law enforcement and landscape management are what we need to prioritize," Heri Subagiadi, the ministry's director of conservation areas, said in a statement on Tuesday (25/10).

Heri said the Desired State of Conservation plan and the corrective measures have served as a manual for efforts to conserve Sumatra's tropical rainforest heritage sites since their implementation in 2013, and that there have been major improvements since then.

Illegal mining sites have been closed in Kerinci Seblat National Park, while various palm oil plantations in Mount Leuser National Park have been eliminated. Patrols and monitoring teams have also been established in the three national parks.

Despite the good news of increasing tiger populations and fewer incidents of poaching, the Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program has called for stronger efforts with the help of inter-ministerial cooperation along with nongovernmental organizations.

The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool, or Smart, was originally designed to address poaching and law enforcement issues, but has since become a promising tool used to collect, store, analyze, evaluate, and report results of activity in the field.

"Overall, Smart can assist managers to develop strategies and plans to improve the effectiveness of conservation efforts, but the tool must be developed and adapted to the characteristics of the local conservation area," said Noviar Andayani, country director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia Program.

The Wildlife Conservation Society believes it is crucial for the Indonesian government to get the three national parks out of the World Heritage in Danger list, as it will ruin the country's reputation as home to some of the world's most biodiverse areas.