No Orangutans Without Rainforest
Habitat destruction is by far the biggest threat to the survival of the Sumatran orangutan. SOCP is therefore actively involved in several initiatives to improve and expand the protection of conservation areas.
Conserving rainforest habitat in Indonesia is an immense challenge but it is imperative in order to save the orangutan. The traditional centralised approach of establishing National Parks, managed by the Central Indonesian Government in Jakarta has largely proven ineffective to date, with illegal logging, encroachment and poaching reported in 39 of the 41 National Parks in the country. One of the main problems with this centralized approach to conservation is that local governments and other stakeholders are not involved in the planning or implementation of these conservation areas and do not have any local or regional sense of being part of the process. They therefore have little or no feeling of responsibility for protecting these areas, for which responsibility is clearly claimed by the National Government. Furthermore, funding made available for park management needs to travel a long way from the capital in Java and usually little is left by the time it reaches the conservation areas. These facts, ironically, are sometimes viewed by local governments as a reason to grab as much as they can, while they can, and many local regents and other senior local government officials have in the past been heavily implicated themselves in illegal logging and encroachment activities within their own jurisdictions. New laws, new opportunities
With new autonomy laws in 2000, management of protection forests (in Indonesia known as Hutan Lindung
, and which do not include conservation areas such as National Parks and Wildlife Reserves) was handed over to the district governments. This created new possibilities for their management such as the establishment of multi-stakeholder management systems based at the district government level. Unlike National management of Conservation Areas, the benefits of protected area management being at the district level include:
- Local support for protection of forest assets can be more easily created and encouraged through awareness campaigns, since destruction of the forest causes direct negative effects at the local level (e.g. loss of water supplies, increased incidence of flash floods etc), the consequences of which are directly felt by the local people themselves.
- A local government is potentially better able to deal with halting encroachment and illegal logging since it is more motivated and it better understands local factors and actors.
- Involving local stakeholders creates a strong support base for lobbying and developing a forest management system that is specifically tailored to the local situation and local needs.
- In a diverse, multi-ethnic country like Indonesia, local laws are frequently more respected than more distant National legislation.