Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Central Kalimantan offering unique ecotourism

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

By Hasan Zainuddin

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Sebangau National Park in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, has a unique fauna and flora biodiversity including a black water ecosystem.

"The unique ecosystem makes the park a potential ecotourism region," head of the Tourism Destination Development Section at the East Kalimantan Culture and Tourism Office, Aida Meyarti, said here recently.

Tourists consider the black water ecosystem a unique thing. The ecosystem came into being by the decay of organic substances on peatland.

The uniqueness of the ecosystem is among the things being promoted in the Sebangau National Park as a tourist site which is visited by many domestic and foreign tourists.

The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in 2006 conducted a research in the Sebangau National Park and found 808 herbal plant species.

The Sebangau National Park which is home to a number of animals including different species of bird, bear (helarctos malayanus), deer (cervus unicolor), small antelope (muntiacus atheroides), mouse deer (tragulus javanicus), tiger (neofelis nebulosa), squirrel (tupaia spp) and orangutan (pongo pygmaeus).

The research in 2006 found 6,000 - 9,000 orangutans living in the Sebangau National Park.

Meanwhile, research conducted by Palangkaraya University in East Kalimantan resulted in the discovery of at least 106 floral species including native plants in the Sebangau National Park.

Kalimantan`s native plants include ramin (gonystilus bancanus), jelutung (dyera constulata), balangeran (shorea belangeran), bintangur (colophyllum sclerophyllum), meranti (shorea spp), nyatoh (palaquium spp), keruing (dipterocarpus), agathis (agathis spp) and menjalin (xanthophyllum spp).

The national park also has 116 bird species including Kalimantan`s native bird called Enggang, besides 35 species of mammals like orangutans and bekantan (nasalis larvatus, a monkey with a big nose which is found only in Kalimantan, the largest island in Indonesia.

The national park also has black or gray long-tailed monkey or lutung, owa-owa (hylobates agilis), long-tailed monkey (macaca fascicularis) and gray monkey among other mammals.

Several species of swamp fish were also found in the national park like gabus (channa striata), lele (clarias sp), papuyu (anabas testudineus), kapar (belontia hesselti), sambaling (betta sp), gurami (helostoma temminckii), karandang (channa pleuropthalmus and tapah (wallago leeri).

The national park is also rich in unique flower species like black orchid (coelogyne pandurata) and such wild plants as kantung semar (nepenthes ampullaria).

The Sebangau National Park has a nature laboratory managed by the Center for International Cooperation on Tropical Peat Land Management of Palangkaraya Univesity as a research institute focusing on peat land management.

As a tourist site, the Sebangau National Park also has water falls, beautiful valleys and lakes. The national park covers an area of 569,700 hectares where the Sebangau and Katingan rivers flow, and occupies parts of Katingan district, Pulang Pisau district and Palangkaraya city.

In the national park, tourists can traverse peat land forests, trek along rivers and observe unique flora and fauna, climb hills, swim in the rivers or watch Dayak traditions.

WWF concept

Ecotourism is a form of sustainable tourism development in support of efforts to preserve the environment, including nature and cultures. The local government involves local people in developing ecotourism in the Sebangau National Park.

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia has offered its concept of community based ecotourism development in the Sebangau National Park, said Rosenda Ch Kasih, project leader of WWF-Indonesia Sebangau Conservation .

According to Rosenda, the WWF`s concept combines the community-based tourism concept and the ecotourism concept in an effort to develop local economic potentials under the sustainable development concept which generates direct advantages to the local people of every generation.

Ecotourism deals with natural resources and cultures which must be developed on four pillars -- conservation, economy, education and people`s participation, Rosenda said.

WWF Indonesia sees the Sebangau area as a nature conservation area home to thousands of fauna, flora and animal species including orangutans.

With the development of ecotourism in the national park, local people must have equal values and bargaining position with other people, and they should not become objects but subjects of the ecotourism development projects, Rosenda said.(*)