WWF welcomes Indonesian government's declaration of Tesso Nilo National Park

Posted on 05 August 2004

The recent declaration of Tesso Nilo National Park is a big first step towards securing the future of Sumatran tigers and elephants in Indonesia.
Jakarta, Indonesia -- WWF welcomes the government of Indonesia's recent declaration of Tesso Nilo National Park, covering 38,576 hectares in Riau Province, Sumatra. Although the new park covers only a fourth of the 155,000 hectares proposed by the local government, it is a big first step towards securing the future of Sumatran tigers and elephants in Indonesia.  
"This is a giant step towards our vision of a greater Tesso Nilo National Park, that will make it possible to secure the protection of the magnificent Sumatran tiger and elephant," said Dr Mubariq Ahmad, WWF-Indonesia's Chief Executive. 
Tesso Nilo is one of the last havens of Sumatran tigers and elephants. It is home to three per cent of the world’s mammal species. With over 4,000 plant species recorded so far, the forest of Tesso Nilo has one of the highest levels of lowland forest plant biodiversity known to science. It is also one of the largest remaining lowland forest blocks on the island of Sumatra. 

"By establishing the Tesso Nilo National Park, Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry is giving a positive signal towards the protection of these last lowland forest frontiers," added Mubariq.

The park's establishment is also significant in that the World Bank has forecasted Sumatra's last lowland forests could disappear by 2005. Only 50 years ago, nearly the entire island was covered with forest. WWF-Indonesia therefore looks forward to further commitments to enlarge the Tesso Nilo National Park as soon as possible.   
The initial proposal called for the establishment of a 155,000-hectare national park in Tesso Nilo. However, much of this area is still held as active logging concessions by three companies. The 38,576 hectares that forms the newly declared national park is a former logging concession of Inhutani IV, a government-owned company that had returned its logging concession license to the government. WWF hopes that the other three companies will follow Inhutani IV in returning their logging concessions in the near future. This would then open the way for the Indonesian government to expand the park according to its initial proposal.   
With the establishment of the park, the challenge now is to secure its protection. Tesso Nilo is highly threatened by illegal logging, carried out to supply illegal saw mills and a legal pulp and paper mill operating in Riau. WWF calls on these industries to stop sourcing timber from Tesso Nilo. The conservation organization also urges local governments and the Ministry of Forestry to ensure firm and effective law enforcement to stop illegal logging in the new park and the greater Tesso Nilo proposed boundaries.   
WWF has been helping to secure the protection of Tesso Nilo, and remains committed to working with the national and local governments to manage the new park. Work is currently in progress to establish a Joint Management Board which will ensure collaborative management of the new park. The Board will involve all stakeholders, including the government’s Regional Conservation Office, District and Provincial government officials, the private sector, representatives of the local communities adjacent to the park and WWF.   
In addition, WWF has facilitated and supported the establishment of the Tesso Nilo Community Forum, which is run by all 23 local communities living in the buffer zone of the greater proposed National Park. These communities work together to protect the Tesso Nilo forest and have a unified voice on the Joint Management Board. The Forum also works to secure alternative sustainable income from non-timber forest products, for example, by jointly producing wild honey.   
For further information:  
Nazir Foead
Director, Species Programme, WWF-Indonesia
Tel: +62 811 977 604
E-mail: nfoead@wwf.or.id
Bambang Hartono
Tesso Nilo Project Leader, WWF-Indonesia
Tel: +62 761 32901
E-mail: bhartono@wwf.or.id
The new national park offers a better future for Sumatran tigers.
© WWF / Alain Compost