Batang Gadis National Park
Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry signed a ministerial decree in early May declaring Batang Gadis a national park—a move expected to be officially announced by President Megawati Sukarnoputri in the park on the island of Sumatra later this month.
The decree is the first since the Indonesian government’s public pledge in February to create 12 new protected areas in 2004, including Batang Gadis National Park in Northern Sumatra and Tesso Nilo in Sumatra’s Riau Province.
“This is the first time a locally designated protected area has been granted national park status in Indonesia,” says Jatna Supriatna, vice president for Conservation International-Indonesia (CI-Indonesia).
Earlier this year, local officials declared the 108,000-hectare swath of forest as a protected area under a new scheme allowing local bupati or district heads to designate land for protection. Their action helped prompt the governmental commitment to create new national protected areas.
The designation of Batang Gadis as a park at the national level is expected to help bring greater governmental and donor resources, including funding, to help secure this area.
It follows a recent exploratory mission led by CI-Indonesia that found signs of the Sumatran tiger and other threatened wild cats in the newly declared protected area.
Signs of Sumatran tiger, Asiatic golden cat, leopard cat and clouded leopard were seen during the mission organized and led by CI’s Northern Sumatra team. The Sumatran tiger and the Asiatic golden cat were even captured on film by camera traps that the team set.
Preliminary results from the survey also show some 239 different vascular plant species within the new park, making it among the planet’s most diverse floristically.
Other findings include the presence of Malayan tapir, siamang, agile gibbon, banded leaf monkey, Malayan porcupine, sun bear and Sumatran serow. The park has historically been home to a number of threatened species including Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran rhinoceros and Sumatran elephant.
The protection of Batang Gadis as a national park is key to efforts to create the Northern Sumatra biodiversity conservation corridor. The park would be an integral part of a 400,000-hectare area in the Angkola portion of the corridor, which could be connected, via a series of protected areas and forests, all the way to Gunung Leuser National Park in the far north of the island. The entire corridor would encompass some 3 million hectares.
|BATANG GADIS NATIONAL PARK|
Batang Gadis National Park, is situated in Mandailing Natal Regency (http://www.madina.go.id), North Sumatra. This regency is located between 0° 10′ and 1° 50′ north latitude and 98° 50′ and 100° 10′ east longitude and its contours are from 0 to 2.146 meters above sea level with area 662.070 hectares or about 9,23% of the whole of the North Sumatra Province. The regency consists of 322 villages and 7 wards as part of the 17 districts with population 380.546 in 2003. Its climate is a tropical rain with humidity approaximately 83%, and its rain fall average 2.728,5 millimeters per year, with average temperature 28,8 Celcius. This regency has 170 kilometers coast faces the Indian Ocean.
The Bukit Barisan mountain range becomes the sources of 7 big rivers flowing to the Indian Ocean, i.e. Batang Gadis 137, 5 kilometers, Siulangaling 46,8 kilometers, Parlampungan 38,72 kilometers, Batang Natal, Tabuyung 33,46 kilometers, Batahan 27,91 kilometers, Kunkun 27,26 kilometers and many small rivers which mixed with the big rivers in total about 271,15 kilometers long. The rivers irrigate very wide paddy fields scattered in all areas of the fertile regency. This area is welknown since mid XIX century for its famous Mandailing Coffee.
The whole area of the Batang Gadis National Park covers 108.000 hectares, is located between 00°30’00” north latitude and 99°13’00” east longitude and 01°02’00” north latitude and 99°50’00” east longitude with its contours between 300 to 2.146 meters above sea level. The higest peak of the area is the peak of the active volcano Sorik Marapi, 2.146 meters in the center of the Mandailing valley.
According to the latest research reports made by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences in cooperation with the Washington based Conservation International, Ministry of Forestry and Mandailing Natal Local Government, the Batang Gadis National Park is believed to be the richest in flora and fauna in the world. Its rain forest offers habitat for 218 kinds of birds, small and big mammalians, reptiles and amphibia. This area is considered as one of the hot spot critical ecosystem in the world, contains some of very important highly biodiversity area. Some of important flora and fauna can be found such as, Tapir, Honey bear, Sumatran elephant, Sumatran tiger, Orang Utan, Hornbill, Rhinocerous, Leopard, Golden cat, Thomas leaf monkey, diverse snakes, certain kinds of frogs, fish and more than 20 species of birds.
The majority of forest areas are consist of prestine forest that produce important ecological services such as for water supply, irrigation scheme, oxygen production and agriculture for local communities in Mandailing Natal. There are also many sulfur hot springs good for skin health. The beauty scenery of the area is also an important asset for inviting visitors to come for ecotourism activities. There are also beautiful sceneries from the Sorik Marapi wide volcano caldera. There are some natural caves and some caves built by the Japanese during the World War II.
One of the uniqueness of the Batang Gadis National Park is the location of Panyabungan, the capital city of the Mandailing Natal Regency, in the center of the national park on the Trans Sumtra Highways. This city is about 400 kilometers southern of Medan, the capital city of the North Sumatra Province.
It is believed that the Batang Gadis National Park is the only National Park that was founded based on the declaration by the local people supported by the Local and National Governments. The local people fight for the conservation of the natural resources and its biodiversity to avoid the illegal logging and other natural damaging activities by local and foreign investors in the area.
The Batang Gadis National Park was installed by the National Government Act number SK.216/Menhut-II/2004 issued by the Minister of Forestry on April 29, 2004.
(Contributor: Basyral Hamidy Harahap, author of Rakyat Mendaulat Taman Nasional Batang Gadis [People Declare Batang Gadis National Park], published by the Local Government of Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra, 2005, xvi, 220 pp. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; Web Site: http://basyral-hamidy-harahap.com)
Proposed National Park Threatened by Australian Mine
|PT Sorikmas Mining Owned by Aberfoyle Australia Threatens to Mine Batang Gadis Protected Forest|
Jakarta – Mining companies’ ambitions to exploit mineral deposits in Indonesian protected forest and conservation areas are relentless. This time the protected forest area under threat of mineral exploitation by a foreign investor is Batang Gadis protected forest located in Mandailing Natal Regency, North Sumatera Province. The forest area covers 108,000 hectares and was proposed by the local government to become a national park. But today the gold mining interests of PT Sorikmas Mining (owned by Aberfoyle Australia) is threatening this important ecoystem.
“For the sake of securing the livelihoods of the people of Mandailing Natal and the sustainability of natural resources and the ecosystem, POKJATAMSU firmly demands that the Head of the Indonesian Parliament (DPR RI), all fractions in the DPR RI, the Heads of Commission III and VIII of the DPR RI, and the local parliament of Mandailing Natal make a heartfelt decision and provide political support to the people and local government of Mandailing Natal now facing the threat of PT Sorikmas Mining exploiting their protected forests,” stated Natanael Ginting of JATAM North Sumatera.
Around 60% of the 201,700 hectare concession area granted to PT. Sorikmas Mining is located in protected forests. Meanwhile, 66,200 hectares of that area overlaps with areas being proposed for national park status. Based on preliminary studies conducted by Conservation International Indonesia, the Indonesian Science Institute (LIPI), and the Planning Division of the Forestry Department (Baplan Dephut), 248 plant species’ are found in this protected forest specifically in Sopotinjak, Aek Nangali and surrounding highlands thus making it one of the world’s most biologically diverse areas. This biodiversity rate is higher than that found in the Tesso-Nelo area in the nearby Riau Province, which is also recognized for enormous biodiversity and home to 218 species. The Batang Gadis protected forest area is home to the 2-metre long Sumatran tiger, rare birds, bears, the Javan deer, wild goats and many more species.
JATAM National Coordinator Siti Maimunah stated that both the Indonesian government and Parliament should address the concerns and aspirations of the local government and people of Mandailing Natal who refuse the conversion of Batang Gadis protected forest into a mining area for PT. Sorikmas Mining. Especially when, up until now, the provision of the contract of work and licensing to PT. Sorikmas Mining has not been done transparently and has not followed the proper procedures.
“The Mandailing Natal community must be given the freedom to determine their own future and not be forced fed unjust policies made by the central government. The creation of the Batang Gadis National Park is of the most importance for the survival of the Mandailing Natal community. Large-scale mining operations by foreign investors with their development promises instead leave abundant social and environmental problems as seen too often in other mining operations in the country,” added Siti Maimunah.
JATAM fully supports the efforts taken by the Mandailing Natal community and the local government to defend the Batang Gadis protected forest from mineral exploitation. JATAM also urges PT. Sorikmas Mining to respect the community’s decision and to stop efforts to convert the protected area into a mining area.
The Damage of Batang Gadis National Park (6): The First Sign of Forest Destruction.
|Jakarta, Sihayo II about half an hour from Torpulo sub village of Tanggal Bosi II village in Siabu sub district. From the bank of the Batang Gadis River, the journey to Torpulo may take three hours through hills. There are only two ways to get to the place by helicopter as hike.|
The camp is in an area of one hectare. The matching from the GPS shows that its location is in the holding zone of Batang Gadis National Park. There are six wooden buildings which were formerly functioned as office, research room of rocks from the result of survey, warehouse, bathrooms and two barracks. Practically, there is no exploration activity in this location. The operational is a little bit halt for the exploration process has finished.
There are former drilling holes in the location of the second camp. Every hole has a diameter of 50 centimeter with the depth of 100 until 150 meters. It was an easy-marked area. If there is a hundred square meters of an open area or bush in the jungle and the mark of chainsaw on the trees so there will be a farmer drilling hole covered by cement with metal stuck onto it which has a serial number on it. Most of the areas are not replanted by vegetation like it is supposed to be.
The second camp takes an hour walk from the first camp. The focus now is in the first camp. Both of the camp is part of the Sihayo and Sambung prospect one of those gold prospects that has been explorated. The other areas are Tambang Hitam prospect, Tambang Tinggi prospect and Tarutung prospect.
In Tarutung prospect, PT. SMM is pushed to halt their exploration because the community of Pahatajang village in Ulu Pungkut sub district for bid their activity. The people are afraid such environmental issue happened in Teluk Buyat, North Sulawesi as an impact of the operation of PT. Newmont Minahasa Raya spring sucking.
The first camp which is close to the Batang Gadis National Park site has an active activity. Around 30 workers involved. Most of them are daily laborers from Banua Rakyat village of Bukit Malintang sub district which is the closes to the mining site. The experts mostly come from outside of North Sumatra. A helipad can be seen here as a helicopter is the vehicle to carry goods and equipment from the logistic centre from PT. SMM’s guest house in Kotanopan sub district.
The locations of the mine drilling are varied in distance, about fifty meters. A hole takes 4 to 5 days drilling depends on the level of difficulty. For the using of 43-70 millimeters eye driller need a huge amount of water.
The water is taken from the creeks around the drilling area. The spring is the head waters of several rivers such as Aek Gajah, Aek Lobu and Aek Garut. They are used as the source of drinking water and irrigation for several villages like Banua Rakyat, Tambiski, Humbang I, Tarutung Panjang in Bukit Malintang sub district as well as Hutang Godang Muda and Tanjung Sialang in Siabu sub district.
The use of a great mount of water in the river course has the impact. On the water debit, according to the village headmen of Tanjung Sialang, Laguddin Nasution, 50, it has been a significant of reducing of water debit in the past two years. Most of the peasant can only grow rice once a year. They can previously grow it until two or three times a year. A similar statement said by the Tarutung Panjang Headman, Pian Sianipar, 63. The villagers who depend their lives on the Aek Gajah River have now been in difficult situation because of the less of water debit.
Such accusation that the explorations by PT. Sorik Mas Mining (SMM) have reduced the water debit is denied by Zainul Arifin, senior geologist of PT. SMM says “we have only used maximum 200 liters of water in a hole. We don’t even use water sometime. It is impossible to reduce the water debit.”
However according to Hardi Munthe, coordinator of the work group of North Sumatran mining advocacy (Pokjatamsu), the co-relation is clear, it is nothing composed with the exploitation in advance which will be for more than 15 years. This company will apply an open mining because it is cheaper than a close one. If that so, the destruction will be greater. The conservation will have an irreversible damage. The water source will be less.
“Open mining uses explosion to break up the soil and solid rock until the depth of 200 meters. It will damage trees and springs. Then to separate the rocks that contain gold and non-gold mercury and cyanide must be used, a dangerous substance for health” Hardi says.
According to Hardis’ estimation, on each ton of the digging material process can only produce one percent of gold. The rest is mud mixed with poisonous substance which flows to the rivers. It is beyond imagination to the jungle, rivers and sea in Mandailing Natal regency will be if the corporation undertakes its exploitation. All of the jungle including the one which is the concession of PT. SMM will certainly damage.
About the mining system applied by PT. SMM, Zainul said that there is no certainty because they have to wait for the exploration process. Meanwhile they don’t know yet when the process will be finished for the reason that the main rock has not been fond yet. However to achieve the level of exploitation there are certain rules to be followed including the analysis of environmental impact (AMDAL).
“We wish that there is no phobia to mining company. The paranoid is unreasonable. Not all of the prospect explorated will be exploited in advance because of the deposit is not profitable,” Zainul said.
Source: detik.com, Feb 27, 2006.