Indonesia’s Sahul region gets serious about conservation

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Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia

Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia > Irian Jaya > Teluk Cenderawasih
Asia/Pacific > Southeast Asia > Indonesia > Irian Jaya > Wasur National Park

Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Jamursba Medi, Papua, Indonesia.
© WWF Indonesia / N J Tangkepayung


WWF is working to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems within Indonesia’s Sahul region – from the Lesser Sundas to the North Moluccas to the West and the border with Papua New Guinea to the East.

The project aims to reduce development threats – deforestation, pollution from mining and industry, overfishing and others – through the sustainable management of forests, wetlands and coastal areas, thereby conserving threatened habitats and species, such as birds of paradise, tree kangaroos and turtles.


Indonesia's population is doubling every 30 years. The population increase is leading to exponential increases in natural resource demands. Development pressure to obtain short-term economic returns at the expense of environmental quality is increasing rapidly to meet debt loads. Major development activities are planned in the vicinity of every single protected area within Irian Jaya – the last great frontier for biodiversity conservation. Much of the area is still relatively pristine and large areas have been set aside as protected areas.

However, the large scale development projects currently planned will have a major impact on the existing protected area system and the entire landscape. If unchecked this development could lead to as much as a 20% loss of Irian Jaya's forest cover in the next decade. Creative solutions must be found to integrate conservation with the other pressing needs of the government of Indonesia and private industry.

Very little information is available on the biodiversity found outside existing protected areas (Conservation International, Indonesia, 1998, unpublished document); there may be significant areas in need of protection. In addition, several species (e.g. birds of paradise, tree kangaroos, turtles, dugong) are currently at risk, primarily from hunting or collection for the trade industry.

WWF Indonesia plans to use an integrated approach, tackling conservation problems on several levels. Through a review of existing spatial plans, and incorporating GIS techniques, WWF will identify existing and potential future environmental impacts of development activities. This information will be used in discussions with BAPPEDA, the Ministry of Forestry (MoF), the Ministry of Environment (MoE), and other government agencies.

Education, outreach and advocacy programmes will be targeted at 3 specific groups: government officials (national, regional, and provincial); local communities (indigenous and transmigrant); and the consumer market (local, national and international), in order to reduce environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity.

Surveys will be undertaken to identify additional new areas that need protection, and to assess potential corridor development. This information will be used in lobbying for additional protected areas (PAs). The formulation and implementation of management plans for PAs will also be undertaken for selected areas. Applied ecological studies will be carried out as necessary in order to effectively conserve Irian's unique biota. Environmental monitoring will be instituted and tied into community conservation incentives in order to maintain or restore the environment.


Reduce development threats to conservation through the sustainable management of forests, wetlands and coastal areas, and bioregional planning, thereby conserving threatened species (birds of paradise, tree kangaroos and turtles) and their habitats.


1. Improved awareness of conservation issues in Irian Jaya.

2. Improved management of forest, wetland, coastal areas, and threatened species.

3. Better spatial planning and adoption of laws and policies that reduce environmental degradation.

4. Improved understanding of the scientific basis of conservation and sustainable management.

5. Clear conservation projects magnified by strategic cooperation.

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