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April 05, 2023

ABA ROLI Mentors Journalists in Indonesia: The Menace is Called Wet Hydrometeorology

In September 2021, ABA ROLI kicked-off the implementation of the three-year regional program, Right to Resilience: Community-Led Advocacy for Human Rights, Political Participation, and Good Governance in Island Communities Impacted by Climate Change (R2R Program), supported by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The program’s primary goal is to build the capacity of communities in island nations, including the Philippines and Indonesia, to participate in political and decisionmaking processes, and to encourage the governments to take action to mitigate the impact of climate change on human rights.  

The R2R program trains journalists on reporting on the impact of climate change on human rights, leading to the publication of participating journalists in major news outlets, including Gresi Plasmanto, Journalist at Liputan6. The workshops helped journalists overcome a wide-range of challenges by advancing public understanding of the serious state of the environment and climate crises; fostered knowledge-sharing and networking among participating journalists; and strengthened reporting on climate change and human rights, including supporting journalist safety.

On Friday, February 17, 2023, published the following article by Andri Mardiansyah, Journalist and Padang Correspondence of Originally in Bahasa Indonesia, the article was translated by Muhammad Reza Zaini and Shinta Permata Sari, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative.

Flash Flood aftermath in Galapung Village, Sunday, 24 November 2019

Flash Flood aftermath in Galapung Village, Sunday, 24 November 2019

Source: Padang Viva/Andri Mardiansyah

"Landslides buried our rice fields and we can no longer work on it. until they couldn't be cultivated anymore. The river water, which used to be clear and we could drink straight away, is now mixed with sand. Natural disasters are really destructive,” said Rano, remembering the disastrous landslides and flash floods that ravaged that land where he lived four years ago.

Rano is a resident of Maua Hilia, Kayu Pasak Timur Village, Salareh Aia Town, Palembayan District, Agam Regency, West Sumatra Province. In 2018, his village was hit with flash floods and landslides, subsequently causing a loss of agricultural land. As a result, Rano lost an estimated 20 million Rupiahs.

‘It was not the nature’s fault’ was the key message of Rano’s story on the illegal logging activities that happened in his area. The wood in the protected forest is cut down by irresponsible groups. They were all laughing, counting their money, while at the same time the villagers were crying, counting the loss and disastrous days they had to face. 

"Disasters came and threatened the protected species. One of the triggering factors of the flash floods and landslides is illegal logging,” he stated resoundingly. 

The Maua Hilia area, which was once fertile land with lush vegetation, is now steadily decreasing due to deforestation, Rano said. In fact, there are villages, like the Pili village, that have been eroded by river water, caused by illegal logging on the banks of the river. There were also residents' houses that were almost destroyed because the soil was eroded by the river flow.

Rano had a field in the surrounding area of the protected forest. His field planted with Areca palm and durian was damaged due to the implications of the illegal logging. Although these illegal logging activities were carried out a long time ago, the impacts are still felt by the locals to this day.

"The village was located right next to the protected forest. Our fields were damaged due to the falling timbers. I have been gardening in my in-laws’ field since 2009," he said. 

He admitted that he also often witnessed illegal logging. The sound of boisterous wood-cutting machines could be heard in the jungle. This condition was witnessed by Rano in the Pasaman Timur forest area which borders Agam Regency.

"If the local people cut down the forest, it is still tolerated. This is not the case. The wood is taken out and sold," he said.
Rano, Maua Hilia local resident

Rano, Maua Hilia local resident

Photo Credit: Padang Viva/Andri Mardiansyah

When nature is angry, the contents of the earth are messed up so that they are no longer in order. Take Batang Lanja, River located within the Palembayan District, as an example. The river water used to be drinkable without having to be boiled. Nowadays, while it still looks clear, the water needs to be purified first due to the landslides and flash floods in 2018. 

"The water is now mixed with sand," Rano said. 

Deforestation does not only trigger natural disasters. Wild animals often leave their original habitats when it is either destroyed or disturbed by humans. For example, illegal logging took place in the forest area of the Maninjau Nature Reserve, Agam Regency. The forest area is a zone or core habitat for several protected wild plant and animal species.

There were plenty of reports on how Sumatran Tigers preyed upon locals’ livestock in Agam Regency, including Rano’s. Four of his cows were attacked by this protected animal. He can only accept his misfortune, since there was no assistance from the government for this “natural” disaster, other than the cautionary messages from the local government. 

"Two of my cows died and two survived. It was a real loss for me,” he said. 

These various disasters and misfortunes encouraged Rano to be actively involved in preserving the environment. He believed that preserving the environment was the best way to prevent natural disasters. This encouraged Rano to volunteered as one of the patrolling members of the Anak Nagari Patrol Team (Pagari) initiated by West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA). 

Through Pagari, Rano and his team monitored activities in the forest where he lived. During his patrols, he never came face-to-face with any illegal loggers. 

"However, I see signs of illegal logging. They were spread across three different sites,” he explained. 

Rano’s decision to join Pagari was driven by his misfortunes. His field was damaged, and he lost his cows, all as a result of irresponsible human activities. Since big trees are needed for water absorption and to prevent erosion, deforestation will threat local settlements and wildlife habitats, especially during heavy rain. 

When we look after the environment, then environment will look after us. Wild animals wandered from the forest because of disturbance to their habitats. This also applies to floods and landslides. I hope Pagari and other relevant stakeholders can continue their duty to protect the forest,"


Maua Hilia local resident

Rano, Maua Hilia local resident

Rano, Maua Hilia local resident

Photo Credit: Padang Viva

Rano was sad having to witness the conditions of the forest near where he lived. In the past, West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center distributed as many as 500 trees to the locals, so each person could plant 5 trees on the hillside. Nowadays, many of the trees have grown to the height of an adult.

With a similar story, Sutan Mangkuto, a victim of the 2009 earthquake, has been living in a government-provided shelter since 2016 in Agam Regency. Before the earthquake, he experienced lots of landslides in Maninjau. He too believed that the landslides in Pandan, Belapung, and Penanggai villages, as well as the Tajung Sani Tanjung Raya District, were results of illegal logging activities. 

Sutan Mangkuto said that the government supervision was not strong enough, since there were still many irresponsible people illegally logging the trees in the protected forest areas. In the past, the Head of West Sumatra’s Police Department used to monitor the field by patrolling the Maninjau Lake until he heard the sound of chainsaw cutting down trees. He then ordered the head of local police offices to catch those illegal loggers. 

“Now it [illegal logging] has become massive issue once again. Every day, I could hear the sound of chainsaws. The wood is then furniture makers and others,” he said. 

Not only in Agam Regency, Sutan said, the sound of chainsaws can also be heard along the borders between the Padang Pariaman and Agam regencies. He believed that if the government and law enforcers are serious in their commitment to protect the environment, they really need to solve this illegal logging issue, because these illegal activities will ultimately impact the fate of local people around the protected forest. 

The Local Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) in Agam Regency recorded that there were 1,225 natural disasters across 16 districts from 2015 to 2021. These included 380 landslides, 104 floods, 26 flash floods, 24 forest fires, four coastal erosion, 571 strong winds, 38 tornadoes, and 78 cases of other disasters. In 2022, the most common disasters were dominated by landslides with 19 cases and floods with seven cases. 

The Aftermath of a Flash Flood in Galapung Jorong, Sunday, 24 November 2019

The Aftermath of a Flash Flood in Galapung Jorong, Sunday, 24 November 2019

Photo Credit: Padang Viva/Andri Mardiansyah

Mapping of Disaster-Prone Areas

Secretary of Agam Disaster Management Agency, Olka Wendri said that his team mapped disaster-prone areas to mitigate the problems, especially landslides and floods. Furthermore, effort in increasing public awareness on the mitigation of disasters, both in person or through dissemination of information through District Leader, was also carried out. 

“In Agam District, Tanjung Raya District, landslides dominated, while floods were dominant in the Tanjung Mutiara and Palembayan districts. We predicted that these areas are more prone to future landslides and floods. Our members are ready with necessary equipment. So, if a landslide or flood happened, we should be ready to respond according to the existing standard operating procedures,” Olka Wendri said. 

Regarding mitigation, Wendri’s mentioned his agency has educated the local communities on the potential dangers and impact of landslides. The key messages of this awareness raising activity was for locals to stop cutting trees in certain areas and to make sure that the waterways are free from any blockages. 

To support reforestation, Agam Disaster Management Agency was planning to plant trees in the deforested areas to prevent landslides and floods. However, Olka Wendri stated that this plan had not yet been implemented.

“BPBD (the agency) have not yet done any tree plantings, only socialization efforts. This means that we are implicitly forbidding the communities from cutting down trees, since cutting trees on a massive scale means a higher probability of landslides,” he explained. 
Capturing of Illegal Logging Suspects in Maninjau Forest Reserve

Capturing of Illegal Logging Suspects in Maninjau Forest Reserve

Photo Credit: Maninjau BSKDA

Illegal Logging Is Not a Fictitious Issue

The issue of illegal logging within Agam Regencies’ protected forest is not a fiction. When conducting monitoring, the Sintas Indonesian Foundation found a number of illegal logging spots scattered in the middle of the jungle of the Maninjau Nature Reserve.

According to the West Sumatra coordinator of Sintas Indonesia Foundation, Tengku Lidra, there were at least six illegal logging sites that he identified. Although his team found tree stumps and sickle marks, he had not assessed the details on the total number of areas lost to illegal logging. This was because the area was part of the old pathways. 

"It’s like an old secondary forest. We also found cut marks on trees and holes for local people to hide from the colonizers back then. This means that the area was indeed a pathway used by people in the past," he explained. 

Tengku Lidra’s experience in surveying the forest led him to the mountaintops, where he found the primary forests and mountain forest vegetation. At that location, there were trees with high timber density and mountain grasses. The lower part of the areas were mainly secondary forests that had been tainted by human activities, one of which was indicated by the existence of logging tracks. 

Rafflesia Tuan-Mudae in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Rafflesia Tuan-Mudae in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Photo Credit: Padang Viva/Andri Mardiansyah

Despite his discovery of logging tracks in the forest, Tengku Lidra rejected the view that the biodiversity in that area had been disrupted and that it led to the floods and landslides. He clarified that he just recently saw the forest’s condition but had not made any further assessment on the impact of those conditions. 

"Not yet [the assessment]. But ecologically speaking, it was surely contributed to the climate crisis," he said.

According to Tengku Lidra, illegal logging definitely triggered landslides and flash floods. One of which happened in Batu Kambing, where illegal logging activities can no longer be traced nowadays. 

"That area [Batu Kambing] was a biodiversity hotspot. It flooded once, but I don’t think it’s caused by illegal logging," he explained.
Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tiger

Photo Credit: Padang Viva/Andri Mardiansyah

Maninjau Nature Reserve is located in two regencies: Agam and Padang Pariaman. This 21,000-acre land is situated in 11 districts with 34 town. 

This nature reserve was created to protect the local ecosystem; both flora and fauna. The nearby Lake Maninjau is a volcanic lake which is posed to act as a barrier for the surrounding area. 

Diverse ranges of species live within the Maninjau Nature Reserve, including Raflesia tuan-mudae, Raflesia arnoldii as well as several species of fig trees like banyan, shorea, and phoebe trees. Various protected wildlife species also roamed the reserve, such as Sumatran tigers, bears, deer, muntjac, and clouded leopards. All of those species are mutually dependent within the ecosystem.  If one is damaged, then the balance of the ecosystem will be disturbed.

Unfortunately, Maninjau Nature Reserve faces many threats, including development demand, population increase, and illegal logging.

"In the last few years, there was a decrease in illegal logging activities. I hope it will be able to be completely stopped in the conservation area," Tengku Lidra hoped.
Illegal Logging in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Illegal Logging in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Photo Credit: Maninjau Natural Resources Reservation Centre (BKSDA)

Government Regulations towards Illegal Logging

The Vice Regent of Agam Regency, Irwan Fikri elaborated that there was a clear national regulation on the prohibition and policing of illegal logging in the protected forest. The detailed regulations are explained in the Law No. 18 Year 2013 on the Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction. The forest patrol (Polhut) and the police could criminalize whoever violated this regulation. 

Since the regulation is clear, local government should also be able to support the curbing of illegal logging. According to Irwan, the local government could help its citizen to minimize illegal logging through providing economic support. 

Economic solutions were necessary so that those, whose livelihood depends on illegal logging and hunting of the protected wildlife, could have an alternative way to continue their lives without damaging the environment. 

"Aside from that, we are increasing our socialization efforts to the towns and community leaders. We were trying to raise public awareness that deforestation will cause disasters upon us, especially those living close to the forest" he said. 

Irwan mentioned that most people in Agam Regency settled within the valleys that have many rivers. Therefore, if forests are plundered and damaged permanently, it will result in greater danger for these residents. 

Illegal Logging Proofs Found in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Illegal Logging Proofs Found in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Photo: Maninjau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA)

"I think the condition of the forests in Agam is no longer safe and it also poses risk to the residents. It is prone to landslides and flash flood,” he said.

Some areas in Agam Regency are labeled as red zones for the potential for landslides. To ensure the safety of the people, the government relocated the residents living in around the disaster-prone area. For example, when Tanjung Sani Town was hit by an earthquake, the residents were relocated to Dama Gadang, where temporary housings for disaster victims were provided.

“The most important matter to improve is the environment quality in the red zones, which are now lacking buffer trees, due to deforestation. We should reforest those areas,” said Irwan firmly.

Irwan Fikri further elaborated that illegal logging did not only triggered disasters, but also damaged wildlife habitats. Therefore, it was no surprise that bears and Sumatran tigers are often found roaming around the residential areas in Agam Regency.

The message is simple. Those animals need their habitat to live freely and we should not disturb them. If their living area is diminishing because of us, they have no other choice but to roam around the residential area, and they will pose threat to people,”

Irwan Fikri

Vice Regent of Agam Regency

Documentation of Ilegal Logging Case in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Documentation of Ilegal Logging Case in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Photo Credit: Maninjau Natural Resources Conservation Centre (BKSDA)

Irwan admitted that the population growth made it difficult or even impossible to widen the habitat area for wild animals. However, it can still be done through maintaining good natural areas for these animals, for example, no longer using the protective forest to open new roads.

“Do not think that if we build a 6-meter-long public road, the impact is only in that length. There will be many more kilometers of wildlife habitats impacted. I completely disagree with the use of the of the nature reserve in Agam for road construction,” he said firmly.

This Vice-Regent of Agam promised that he will be the first person who would reject any new policy to build new roads in the nature reserve. Despite that, he admitted that there are still some residential areas that were located in the reserve area.

However, these residential areas were established hundred years ago. Therefore, currently, he had been trying to relocate those residences outside the nature reserve. The collaboration of local, provincial and national government in disaster management had been quite good, since it was coordinated through one channel, which was the Local and National Disaster Management Agency (BPBD and BNPB). “Disaster management and response in Indonesia is way better than before,” said Irwan.

Head of Agam Local Police, AKBP Ferry Ferdian also expressed his commitment to minimize illegal logging in his area, although there was no strong action yet. His team had been collaborating with National Resources Conservation Center and Forestry Service in West Sumatra. He will assign his staffs in each town to promote public awareness on illegal logging. 

“We seek the help of community coordinators1 (Bhabinkamtibmas) to promote awareness and socialize the impact of illegal logging. We collaborated with Conservation Centre and Forestry Service to ensure the enforcement of the regulations,” Ferry said.

AKBP Ferry Ferdian emphasized the importance of this coordination with the Natural Resource Conservation Centre and Forestry Service of West Sumatra, especially to identify the forest area, whether it was for protection, for production, and so on. “They [Conservation Centre and Forestry Service] are the ones who know the area, including the aspects of illegal logging,” he said.

It is not Predetermined by God

The Legal Aid Institute (LBH) Padang did not view the natural disasters that occurred in Agam Regency, generally in West Sumatra, as predetermined by God. These were caused by human actions, who are destructing and harming the environment. 

Irresponsible people did excessive exploitation of the environment. They extracted as many resources as possible without thinking about restoration, such as reforestation. “There are too many illegal logging activities happening and large-scale homogenization of plants, such as palm oil and others,” said the Director of LBH Padang, Indira Suryani.

Aside from illegal logging, Indira also highlighted other activities threatening the environment, such as mining and the geothermal energy projects which involved many variations of drillings, dismantling the natural topography. This excessive exploitation would cause flood and landslides.  

“These disasters also impacted the rights of the people,” she said.

Illegal logging’s biggest impact had been to the right to clean water. LBH Padang witnessed how a government project in building irrigation system for farmers ended up in failure due to insufficient groundwater caused by the deforestation of the National Park of Kerinci Seblat (TNKS).

“Aside from the illegal logging, overplanting of palm oil trees also caused significant decrease of groundwater and therefore it cannot be used to irrigate the agricultural fields,” she explained.

Not only right to clean water, but illegal logging could also potentially impact people’s right to food if hydrometeorological disaster happened. LBH Padang received many reports on unstable and wetter weather, which resulted on the death of farmers’ horticulture plants.

Findings from the Illegal Logging case in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Findings from the Illegal Logging case in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Photo Credit: BKSDA Resor Maninjau

The above situation was experienced by the farmers near Talang Moountain, Simpang Tanjung Nan Ampek in the Lembah Gumanti District, Solok Regency. Many farmers reported loss of crops due to extreme climate change; high intensity rain.

 “Bad weather resulted in the increase of the food price. Everything is impacted and it also triggers inflation. Therefore, the impact of this climate crisis could be felt by the regular people and even the government,” she explained.

It was no secret that the environmental degradation in West Sumatra had caused various disasters, including flash floods, landslides and others. The loss experienced by the people was incalculable. Houses were damaged, farmers lost their job since their fields were ruined, rivers were also wrecked due to illegal logging in Agam Regency.

“We visited Pagadih to see the water spring. However, there were too many sediments there, and no fish could be seen. The river was damaged and this will impact the people around it,” she elaborated.

LBH Padang provided legal support to the communities whose rights to food and clean water were impacted. Their first case was in Padang, where two farmer communities in Kuranji reported the difficulty of accessing clean water and that their irrigation system did not work. Those issues were caused by 2 factors; first the water was taken by the national drinking water company (PDAM), second the decrease of groundwater due to the land clearing in the upstream area. 

“The irrigation dried up and consequently farmers could not work on their field. In my view, farmers' essential human rights are access to water and clean environment. We sent a written complaint to the national drinking water company, but had not received any reply,” Indira said.

These issues usually ended with fights between farmers and change of agricultural commodities, which was difficult since it required re-learning by farmers. For example, the change from growing rice to papaya. The farmers were left without support from the government to solve their issues. 

“We reported to the National Commission on Human Rights and other institutions. They said it was caused by illegal logging. If this is the case, illegal logging should be eradicated,” she emphasized.

The second case handled by LBH Padang was in Tapan, Pesisir Selatan Regency where the forest had been completely barren, and the protected forest around it was planted with palm oil trees. It was not only caused by companies, but also the barons of those businesses who wanted to earn profits from the timber logging. 

"We regret the response from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK). The perpetrators have been included in the wanted list, but they have not been arrested yet. Until now, the perpetrator (of the illegal logging) is still living in that village and continue his illegal trading, sourcing his timbers from the National Park of Kerinci Seblat,” she explained.

Indira further told that horrifyingly, many people involved in the loading of these illegal timbers died in the forest. Deathly accidents were common in illegal logging business, and unfortunately this had become a usual thing in that village.

The carpenters who helped with lodging did not get much money. It was the barons who reaped the riches. Once the forests became barren, disasters were the only thing left for the people living around the area. Unfortunately, many people did not understand this. It had always been a dilemma after all, since they took part in the illegal business because of the lack of options for their livelihood.

Why do you take part in the loading of these illegal timbers? They said that because they have no other options nor work available,” Indira chronicled. The illegal logging case in Tapan was reported to LBH Padang in 2017. Her team had been supporting and reporting it everywhere, including West Sumatra’s Police and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Latest update included the arrest of a perpetrator, but until now, this case had not been processed by the court.

“The illegal logging in the National Park of Kerinci Seblat was supported by the indigenous leader. It is sad that the indigenous people themselves took part in harming the environment. In the end, this illegal logging would cause flooding which will impact their own children and relatives,” explained Indira.

LBH Padang also criticized the sporicidal nature of the emergency responses provided by the government after the occurrence of a disaster. The action that is actually need involves comprehensive and wider restoration. Disaster mitigation should start with prohibiting all forms of environmental exploitation.

Indira stated that LBH Padang firmly opposed the mining activities and large-scale farming. In her view, the government always attempted to applied the simplest solution for a complex situation. “For example, if there is flood, we (government) will construct more water tunnels, fix this part, build more flood control channel, and bla bla bla. That is not solving the root cause of the problem, which is not the infrastructure, but the environment that no longer has the capacity to support us,” she explained.

This happened because of excessive exploitation of the environment. Moreover, upon the issuance of the Law on Job Creation2, the investment access was opened as wide as possible by the government. “The regulation does not support the environment protection. As long as investment is prioritized, disasters will keep happening and there will also be massive violation of human rights,” she added.

Climate Crisis and Ecological Degradation from the Human Rights Perspective 

The head of representative office of the National Commission on Human Rights in West Sumatera, Sultanul Arifin firmly stated that the environmental issues especially related to the rights of healthy and safe environment had been the responsibility of the state, according to the Law no 39 of 1999 on Human Rights. 

In Sultanul’s view, that aforementioned policy regulated the obligation of the state on the respect, protection, and fulfilment of human rights. Therefore, neglect on the issues impacting the fulfilment and protection of human rights, could also be considered as the violation of human rights, including the neglect of the issues related to the provision of a safe and healthy environment. 

“If illegal logging case is identified, it is the obligation of the state to resolve it. When there is illegal logging which lead to environment degradation, and eventually it resulted on issues such as lack of access on clean water and pollution, it is the responsibility of the government to resolve it,” he said.

In his view, unclean and unhealthy environment, whether due to environmental degradation or impact of climate change, directly impacted the livelihood of the people around it. 

Community Involvement 

Forest degradation could be caused by many factors. Ardi Andono, Head of West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center, explained there were several classification segments of forest degradation. Forest fire is the most dangerous one due to its massive and destructive impact, which resulted in the death of the land and its vegetation. 

“Timber logging is also considered as the cause of forest degradation. It caused erosion, as well as pushed forest degradation further and decreased the production of the vegetation and wildlife around it,” Ardi said.

According to Ardi, forest degradation would impact the wildlife in it, since they needed sufficient food and their natural habitat. If their habitat was disturbed, their food would be decreasing and it will lead to extinction. Wildlife could breed only if their habitat is preserved, and there is sufficient source of food, access to water and other resources.

 “If the environment is damaged, wildlife will migrate to other area which might threaten their lives. They could be killed by human and other animals, when trapped in unsuitable food chain. Therefore, forest degradation and wildlife sustainability are closely correlated,” he said. 

If wildlife habitat is disturbed, their food source will decrease and the conflict among them and with human would become unavoidable. When forest had been degraded, the wildlife would migrate to a safer place and would face more risk of dying of hunger or being hunted by human. 

Ardi Andono, Head of West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center (middle)

Ardi Andono, Head of West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center (middle)

Photo Credit: Padang Viva/Andri Mardiansyah

When they (wildlife) are migrating to find new habitat, they will face higher risk by coming face to face with other animals or human, and this could result in fatality. Wildlife will also face higher risk of dying of hunger and can act aggressively,"

Ardi Andono

Head of West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center

West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center is responsible to monitor the conserved forest. Various methods of protection were carried out to prevent looting of the forest, such as smart patrol, socialization, and community empowerment. Regular patrol would minimize the incentive and opportunities of the people who would like to steal from the forest.

In 2022, West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center seized one truck of illegal woods in the forest in Padang and the perpetrator had undergone trial. They also detained 7 illegal wildlife hunters and taxidermist in Pasaman Regency.

In Bukittinggi, the Natural Resources Conservation Center also detained a town leader for forest encroachment. Similar detainment was also made in Solok and Agam Regencies, where the perpetrator had been sentenced.

At least there were 12 cases handled by the Center last year. The Police supported 10 of them. The Conservation Centre appreciated the commitment of West Sumatera Provincial Police in ensuring order and minimizing illegal activities in the forest area. 

"The law enforcement of West Sumatra is quite strict on the cases related to wildlife and forestry. We commit to protect our forest. Even though they take only 5 trees, we will catch them and process the case legally,” he said firmly.

West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Center also encouraged socialization in areas located nearby the Sumatran Tiger’s habitats, through “Nagari Ramah Harimau” (“Tiger-friendly town”) initiative. Through increasing local’s understanding on the fact and data, they will be able to control and monitor their area, to minimize conflict with wildlife and ensure peaceful coexistence.  

The above initiative encouraged the locals to synergize in protecting the environment. As a result, last year, 45 protected animals were handed over by the locals to the conservation center.

Firefighter also supported the locals in evacuating the wild animals roaming around the residential area, including clouded leopards, golden cats, snakes and others. “The local communities are very helpful in helping us to manage the wildlife.” Ardi said. 

West Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Centre had the authority in monitoring of approximately 244,000 acres of forest spread across 21 areas in 15 regions in West Sumatra. Although there was clear boundaries on the areas of authority, wildlife and vegetation are transboundary (cannot understand those boundaries), and therefore they could be found outside of the conservation area.

The community patrol team (Pagari) initiated by the Conservation Center, also helped in protecting and restorating the forest, through reforestation program supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, where local communities planted trees in the buffer zone of the forest reserves. Its future target is to fully restore the degraded forest. 

Rhizanthes Lowii in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Rhizanthes Lowii in Maninjau Nature Reserve

Photo Credit: Padang Viva/Andri Mardiansyah

Buffer from the Karst of the Maninjau Lake

Ade Putra, the Head of Maninjau’s Natural Resources Conservation Center elaborated that the Maninjau Nature Reserve had been the buffer of the Maninjau volcanic lake’s karst. This reserve was aimed to protect the habitat of the vegetation and wildlife in the area. Maninjau Nature Resource has 21,000 acres of land stretched over Agam and Padang Pariaman Regent.

The Conservation Center identified that the reserve had been the habitat of various vegetations and wildlife, such as Raflesia tuan-mudae, Raflesia arnoldii, species of fig trees like banyan, shorea, and phoebe trees, bear, deer, muntjac, clouded leopard and even Sumatran tiger, which are part of interconnected ecosystem.

“As a conservation area, Maninjau Nature Reserve faced challenges from the development, increasing population, or natural disasters such as flood and landslide,” said Ade.

Ade mentioned that the disturbance and threats to the Maninjau Nature Reserve include illegal logging or the illegal use of the area, which fortunately in the past few years had been decreasing. 

Head of Maninjau Nature Reserve, Ade Putra

Head of Maninjau Nature Reserve, Ade Putra

Photo Credit: Padang Viva/Andri Mardiansyah

Illegal logging in Maninjau Nature Reserve had not been as massive as other areas, in or outside West Sumatra. Usually, it was perpetrated by individual or a small group. The encroachment of this reserve only happened in a few areas, in small scales. This could only be achieved through hard work of and collaboration between the relevant stakeholders in protecting the area. 

“Our effort in protecting and eradicating illegal activities includes carrying out protection and security patrols, including surrounding communities such as Anak Nagari Patrol, as well as formal and informal education, socialization and awareness raising. In the last 2 years, we also tried to promote small scale business amongst local people living around the Maninjau Nature Reserve. Those are our efforts,” added Ade.

Other effort includes law enforcement through collaboration with Agam and Gakkum local police. In the last 3 years, there was only 1 case of illegal logging, which 3 perpetrators were convicted by Lubuk Basung Court and are currently serving their sentence. 

“In the future, we will increase the prevention effort, such as through installation of border tents and warning signs, as well as engaging in partnerships with the locals, indigenous leaders, and the communities surrounding the area. This is more effective than trying to catch the perpetrators ourselves.” Ade explained.

Threat to the Ecosystem and Human Lives 

Ade said that if in the conservatory area there was massive and large scale illegal logging, the ecosystem will be degraded. This degradation will impact the lives of any creature living in that area, be it plants or animals.

That nature reserve had been the buffer supporting the lives of human, plants, and animals. The damage in the ecosystem and conserved forest will have significant negative impact, such as the decrease of habitat for wildlife, especially keystone animals such as Sumatran Tigers and bears. 

The degradation of ecosystem will also disturb the function of the area, which will impact human lives as well.  This will result in the occurrence of natural disasters. Support from plants and trees to hold and absorb ground water and the soil are vital during high rainfall, to prevent floods and landslides, which could result in the economic loss and loss of lives.

“We have to protect the forest and the ecosystem. We should not be greedy and harm the environment. Humans are not the only creation that live on this earth. There are other creations which have the same right to live. While it is our job is to protect and preserve the nature, we need support from the community. We have to preserve our forest and resources for our next generation. Don’t let our forest and abundant resources only become a myth for them.” said Ade Putra.

Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Asia and the Pacific.