Disturbances in Indonesia's peatlands, has resulted in significant loss of habitat and biodiversity. Two large stretches of peatswamp forest, the Sebangau National Park and Mawas (also called Block E of the ex-mega rice project), remain in a relative pristine condition. Both areas are recognised for their value to biodiversity and life supporting functions. Despite some recent restoration activities and improved law-enforcement, both remain under severe threat of fires, drainage and illegal logging. The Central Kalimantan Peatland Project facilitates further establishment of the Sebangau National Park, and supports development of management plans and improved law-enforcement in both areas.
Zoning and setting the borders
Sebangau is currently being developed as a National park. The CKPP will assist in establishing official park borders and appointing specific land use zones (ranging from protected wilderness zones to traditional use and agricultural use zones) to different forest and adjacent land areas. Using experiences obtained elsewhere in Indonesia, the project partners facilitate this process. They consult local stakeholders and involve local community forums in the planning and decision making procedure. They also collect data on traditional land use and land tenure of different communities. This should enable a sound and sustainable delineation and zonation which is supporting both livelihood security and environmental integrity.
Development of infrastructure
Central Kalimantan's peatlands currently lack management infrastructure and capacity necessary for effective park management. The CKPP provides park rangers with tools necessary to optimally protect the natural values of Sebangau and Mawas. This includes boats and ultra-light planes for patrolling, but also communication equipment and housing facilities. The project also provides training to park staff and develops patrol teams, particularly recruiting among local communities.
Searching for loggers from outer space
Despite efforts to protect them, both Sebangau and Mawas are severely threatened by illegal activities. Particularly logging of valuable timber species such as Ramin and Shorea – mainly performed by people from elsewhere – has caused considerable damage to the ecosystem. Due to the size and inaccessibility of those areas, patrolling on the ground is difficult, ineffective and expensive. To overcome these problems, the project relies on a modern satellite radar monitoring system.
Each month, experts of SarVision receive up to date high-resolution radar images, which are carefully checked for irregularities that might be an indication of illegal activities. As radar penetrates through clouds and even through the forest canopy, this technique enables to record even small disturbances which would otherwise go unnoticed. The project uses ultra light airplanes to check whether their observations are indeed related to illegal logging. If this is the case, teams on the ground head towards the crime scene to catch the offenders. These activities, performed with full cooperation of local authorities, have proven very successful in the Mawas area. The project will provide funding and training to extend these activities towards other areas in central Kalimantan.
Several project partners develop long-term (25 years) and short term (5 years) management plans for Sebangau national park. Participation of local communities is seen as an integral part of park management. Therefore the project invites stakeholders and local villagers to attend workshops which will assist in planning, design and implementation.
To acquire baseline information on biodiversity, the project collects existing data on the occurrence of flora and fauna in the region. It also performs inventories in the field. These background data enable the optimal incorporation of conservation measures in the management plans for Sebangau. Consequent monitoring will also serve to measure the efficiency of measures undertaken to protect the area. Orangutan populations receive particular attention. Harboring approximately 10.000 individuals Sebangau and Mawas are of international importance for this threatened species.