The Jakarta Post
A new botanical garden has opened in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, signifying a strong commitment toward nature conservation amid the excessive expansion of mining and oil-palm plantation sites in the province, a minister has said.
'The opening of this new botanical garden is a positive step toward addressing environmental issues in this region,' Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said in Balikpapan on Wednesday, as quoted by tempo.co.
The conservation area, situated on a 309-hectare plot of land, is the only botanical garden in Kalimantan.
Zulkifli described the Balikpapan Botanical Garden as the last fort for the environment in the area, partly because primary forests across Indonesia, especially in Kalimantan, continue to be damaged by mining and plantation expansion activities.
Therefore, the minister said he appreciated the policy of the Balikpapan administration to maintain the 10,000-hectare Wain River forest conservation area, part of which was used for the Balikpapan Botanical Garden site.
'Here we still can find orangutans, bears, deer and various endemic bird species,' said Zulkifli.
A ceremony to lay the first stone of the Balikpapan Botanical Garden took place in 2008. The garden's Rp 30 billion (US$2.56 million) construction was financed by state and local budgets. (dyl/ebf)
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