Saving 'THE CORRIDOR'
The Jakarta Post
In a forest not far from the capital, local residents are stepping up to help protect the earth in an initiative that may give the next generation hope for the future.
The people of Cipeuteuy village in Sukabumi, West Java, realized the weight on their shoulders was getting heavier and heavier after living side by side with a newly established national park.
Not only had they lost a source of income – for the park prohibited them from obtaining anything from that protected land – but they were also responsible for the biggest national park in Java.
A 2003 Ministerial Decree expanded what was then Halimun National Park to the Mount Salak area, changing the name to Mount Halimun Salak National Park.
Covering more than 113,000 hectares of land approximately 100 kilometers southwest of Jakarta, the park is an amalgamation of two important ecosystems at Halimun and Mount Salak, which are connected by an 11-kilometer forest corridor.
The people of Cipeuteuy live alongside that corridor, a swath of land deemed integral to the existence of the national park.
The newly appointed park head, Agus Priambodo, highlighted the importance of the forest corridor, not only to link both areas but also to ensure the sustainability of ecosystems, including endangered species, inside the protected forest.
“The corridor is important to preserve the biological integrity ... to maintain the biodiversity in the area,” he said recently.
Endangered species like the silvery gibbon (Hylobates moloch), Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas) and Javan Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi) found in the national park are at risk of extinction should the connection between Halimun and Salak be severed.
Those animals, Agus added, may be forced to inbreed, which would endanger their lives should they mate with their own relatives within a secluded area.
The national park recorded only 17 Javan Hawk-Eagles in 2011, with 71 Javan leopards and 80 silvery gibbons.
However, the poor condition of the corridor has left the cash-strapped national park with the daunting task of maintaining and preserving the forest.
Before becoming part of the national forest, the corridor was a plantation area used by state-owned forestry firm Perum Perhutani, which cooperated with local residents to produce valuable crops under a profit-sharing mechanism.
The remaining land was used by local residents who planted paddy, chilies, onions and other crops to meet their daily needs.
The 2003 decree forced Perhutani to depart from the area. Before leaving, the company removed all their remaining assets, leaving deforested land with only wild shrubs remaining.
At least 1,500 out of the 4,200 hectares of land in the corridor were destroyed due to the Perhutani relocation.
The people of Cipeuteuy village in Sukabumi, West Java, realized the weight on their...
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