Wed, 25 Sep 2002

Govt to develop three more botanical gardens

Musthofid and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is developing three more botanical gardens in a bid to prevent the country's biodiversity from extinction, according to a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

Endang Sukara, who is LIPI's deputy chairman in charge of biotechnology, told The Jakarta Post on Monday that the three botanical gardens are located in Jambi (Sumatra), Baturaden (Central Java) and Wamena (Papua).

"Ideally, all provinces in Indonesia should have botanical gardens to ensure the protection of biodiversity," Endang said.

Indonesia is the second richest country in the world in terms of biodiversity after Brazil. Having around 30,000 species, Indonesia is hailed as the "mega-diversity" country.

But the status is changing as Indonesia is becoming a "Hot Spot" and has been labeled as the country with the longest list of species that are in danger of extinction, according to Endang.

The three botanical gardens will be built on around 600 hectares of biodiversity conservation land. The project will be carried out in cooperation with the Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC).

They will add to the list of Indonesia's botanical gardens to seven. The current four are in Bogor and Cibodas (West Java), Purwodadi (East Java) and Bedugul (Bali).

Dedy Darnaedi, another LIPI researcher in charge of the development of the botanical gardens, said they began the project in Jambi in 2000 and planting had already started.

"We began even earlier in Wamena, but we have yet to reach an agreement with the local people about the land border issue," he said.

"In Baturaden, we have already finished mapping the area and are about to finalize the master plan," he added.

Dedy said Indonesia's biodiversity was in danger of extinction due to the rapid pace of deforestation, which was attributed to forest concessionaires, forest fires and illegal logging.

The World Bank has sent its warning that if the current rapid pace of deforestation continues, Indonesia will see the disappearance of Sumatra's lowland forests in 2005, with Kalimantan to follow in 2010.

"The lowland forest is home to biodiversity. That's why we are very much concerned with its conservation," Endang said.

He also revealed a plan to hold an international congress of botanical gardens in Bali next year, where Indonesia will have an opportunity to gather experts from around 500 botanical gardens in the world.