Conservation as a way of governance
What exactly are conservation districts?
Conservation districts are administrative units that are based on sustainable development principles (see criteria in the right hand box). In the Heart of Borneo, conservation districts are seen as a logical development to avoid sacrificing natural habitat to unplanned economic development.
In the hands of local governmentsPlanning for conservation districts is the undertaking of local governments, but NGOs, research/education institutions and management agencies all need to be involved in the effort. At a higher level, conservation districts must also work hand in hand with the central government to prepare a long-term development plan.
Making conservation districts happenIn Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), efforts are underway to turn conservation districts from a set of principles into a workable solution for local governments. While the concept, principles and criteria for conservation districts have already been agreed to, the policy support that is required, such as a ministry regulation, is still lacking.
Scaling up in Central KalimantanBut there are encouraging signs: several districts and donor institutions are interested to make conservation districts a reality. A district in East Kalimantan (Malinau) and 3 other districts in Central Kalimantan (Katingan, Murung Raya and Gunung Mas) have requested support from WWF to follow the example of Kapuas Hulu (West Kalimantan), where the conservation district model was first implemented.
The commitment from the 3 districts in Central Kalimantan materialized in 2005 through a joint declaration to collaborate to protect and manage forests and natural resources responsibly within the Heart of Borneo.
Now, the hope is that as the conservation district concept is strengthened and enabling policy is secured, we can begin to see more successful instances of the model appearing across the Borneo landscape.
What are the criteria for conservation districts?
- Include designated conservation areas
- Set limits to development activities
- Have a mission that is founded on conservation principles
- Demonstrate political commitment to implement sustainable management of natural resources
- Benefit from competent environmental management institutions