Rinjani Ecosystem on Lombok Island

A. Description of Rinjani Ecosystem

The large Rinjani Mountain has an rea of ± 125,000 hectares or around 26.50 % of the ecoregion and its forest area are the largest, around 86.11 % of the total area (146.022 ha). Protected areas completely represent forest types, namely savannahs, semi-deciduous forests, lower mountain-range evergreen forests and tropical mountain-range evergreen forests.

Ecologically, the composition of vegetation at Rinjani Mountain forest complex and in the surrounding forests has a great significance in maintaining the hydrological balance on Lombok island due to Rinjani Mountain forest’s covering very large area and has function of water absorbent area for surrounding areas. It has been recoded that more than 85 springs come from Rinjani Mountain; this was shown during some activities of managing for river flow. The springs are encompassed in 10 locations and 5 sub-locations of the river flow area. In Lombok ecoregion, especially in Rinjani, can be found 66 kinds birds, 8 kinds of mammals 17 kinds of reptiles, and many endemic plants such as Cervus Timorensis, Muntiacus Muncak, manis Javanica, Hystrix brahyura, some protected birds such as Lichmera lombokia, Megapodus reinwardtii, Alcedo coerulences, Phillemon buceroides, Cacatua sulphurea and some protected flora which have been observed, such as Pterospermum javanicum, Dysoxylum sp, Azadiactha indica and Dypterocarpus haseltii.

Rinjani Mountain is indicated as the only water resource (90% of the river on Lombok island spring from the upper reaches of the Rinjani Mountain area), whereas the rivers are distributed in three water absorbent areas namely: north, west and east water absorbent areas. Approximayely more than 600,000 inhabitants on Lombok island greatly depend on the water that comes from these areas. The river flow pattern and distribution has had an influence in the spread of inhabitants, their number increasing as much as 2.33 % per year, and more than 70 villages greatly depend on this area.

Rinjani volcano has an oval-shaped caldera measuring 4800 x 3500 m, and inside if there is a crescent-shaped lake having a hight of 2008 m above sea level (2800 x 2400 m) and depth of 230 m. Regarding the large of the crater lake, it is about 11 million square meters in surface area and has a water volume of 1,375 million cubic meters. It is named Danau Segara Anak which means Child of the Ocean.

The economic and ecological value of Rinjani area is very high according to the observation point of view; hydrology forests, agriculture, tourism, water controlling, social and religious values. If the Rinjani area is preserved in its current condition, the nett value in benefit will be Rp. 5,178,159 trillions per year. While the contribution of the irrigation water resource used for agriculture sector will attain up to Rp. 5.4 billion per year. The nett value produced by the agriculture sector at the Rinjani area will reach 386 billions per year. Regarding the economic value of mineral water obtained from two drinking water companies; Narmada and Neutral mineral water, these two companies have utilised water having its source in Rinjani area to the amount of 1.75 billions per year. In addition the economic value produced from tourism sector in 1999 reached up to Rp. 286 billons per year.

The Challenges of Rinjani Ecosystem Management

The ecosystem is protected by different protection status. Mountain Rinjani National Park (Gunung Rinjani National Park) ca. 45,000 hectar and its adjacent protected forest areas (ca. 86,000 ha) conserve Lombok’s biodiversity and contain various types of habitats like mountainous forests and savannahs. The high-altitude of Rinjani Crater Lake serves as a water reservoir which Lombok almost completely relies on.

The southern part of the ecosystem is under heavy pressure from landless farmers who occupy the forest area to develop farmlands. It is about 80 villages with an estimated 600,000 inhabitants are located on or close to southern slopes of the ecosystem and many of landless farmers depend on the forest area for daily needs. Traditional land use system, which are still widely used throughout the region, contribute to environmental degradation. Shifting cultivation (slash and burn), savanna burning, encroachment and cattle grazing are considered the biggest threats to environment caused by rural communities. Together with illegal loging, mining, infrastructure development and weak of law enforcement, they seriously threaten the function of the ecosystem in Rinjani. To accommodate the needs of the local communities and reduce the pressure of these communties on the ecosystem, the foresty department initiated in 1996 conversion 0f 5,000 hectars of protected forest area into bufferzone.

A complicating factor is the process of decentralization where local governments (disctrict level) are forced to raise local revenues. One asset the local government are looking at is the protected forest area. Many logging activities are now actively supported or initiated by the district forestry departements. This has caused a lot of misunderstanding in communities participating in the community forest program and is sees as a catalyst for encroachment by landless farmers. The problems are less significant in the National Park. The National Park Management Unit (UPT), with funding from national government and clearer status for the public can act more strictly in enforcing regulations that are aimed at keeping people from entering the park for illegal activities. On the other hand this increases the pressure on protected forest areas even more as the people do not have alternatives in the National Park.

Solution is Proposed

Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forest and woodlands that have been depleted, usually through deforestation. Reforestation can be used to rectify or improve the quality of human life by soaking up pollution and dust from the air, rebuild natural habitats and ecosystems, mitigate global warming since forests facilitate biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and harvest for resources, particularly timber,, but also non-timbers forest products.

Meanwhile, the term of afforestation is the process of restoring and recreating areas of woodlands or forests of non-forest land. The term re-afforestation is used to distinguish between the original forest cover and the later re-growth of forest to an area. Forestation is the establishment of forest growth on areas that either had forest or lacked it.

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