The Wehea-Kelay Essential Ecosystem Area (EEA) East Kalimantan (Kaltim) became a learning place for the KEE team from Jambi Province. "Our aim and goal is to study KEE in East Kalimantan which is already in the form of management, in Jambi we have plans to build an Elephant corridor under the KEE scheme as well," said the Head of the Legal Bureau of the Jambi Provincial Government M. Ali Zaini during a visit to the Environmental Service (DLH) East Kalimantan Province, Monday 22 November 2021.
The team for establishing the Elephant Corridor EEA in Jambi held a meeting with the Wehea-Kelay EEA team led on an ad hoc basis by the Head of the East Kalimantan Environmental Service. The EEA is defined as an important area outside a conservation area that is ecologically important for biodiversity. In the Wehea-Kelay Landscape, the EEA model succeeded in embracing 23 forum members representing forestry concession permit holders, oil palm concession holders, academics, environmental activists, local governments, and representatives of the Ministry of the Environment. They collaborate to manage an area of 532 thousand hectares. One of the results of this collaboration is the identification of the orangutan population, which is estimated to be around 1,200 individuals (2019). “Collaboration is the key, there is no compulsion to join the forum members, but the commitment of the parties that drive the Wehea-Kelay EEA forum activities Head of Environmental Management Division of DLH East Kalimantan Fahmi Himawan.
Wehea-Kelay EEA is one of the initiatives of the East Kalimantan Green Development Agreement model which was declared in 2016. The Wehea-Kelay EEA is also a model KEE for 12 indicative KEEs in various landscapes that will be developed by the Government of East Kalimantan. "This year, around 491,000 hectares of area in the Wehea-Kelay EEA have been proposed as a Provincial Strategic Area (KSP)," said Fahmi. The area has been proposed and will be included in the revision of the Regional Regulation on Spatial Planning and Regional Planning. The KSP status will make the Wehea-Kelay EEA a very important role for the province of East Kalimantan. "It will strengthen in terms of funding and authority, in addition to legal force," added Fahmi.
The Bukit Tiga Puluh Landscapes Wildlife Corridor EEA team from Jambi stated that there were a number of similarities in the Wehea-Kelay EEA. "Our landscape is also surrounded by management units, communities and other illegal activities," said Teguh Sriyanto, a representative from the Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Center. Almost all Sumatran elephant corridors and trails in Tebo Regency, Jambi have been converted into plantations and coal mining so that the route is cut off. Within the landscape, there is also encroachment and illegal gold mining (PETI) which also damages the quality of river water which is the source of drinking water for elephants and village communities. The indigenous people who live in the Bukit Tigapuluh Landscape consist of the Old Malay Tribe, the Talang Mamak Tribe, and the Anak Dalam Tribe. "Elephants can be said to be considered pests by local residents and companies," said Teguh. Because this proboscis animal consumes up to 400 kg of feed per day, including from local residents' fields and the company's plantation area. In fact, "we believe and always remind that elephants are part of the ecosystem, we do not exclude each other as humans," he said. The number of elephants in the hill landscape of thirty is estimated to be 120 individuals. "We don't want it to have a fate like the Javan tiger, which only has a name," said Teguh.
Thus the arrival of the team from Jambi is an effort to preserve the elephants that can live side by side with the residents. The Partnership Manager for Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) Edy Sudiono said that to start an approach with stakeholders, it must be done slowly and communicate continuously. This includes the Wehea Dayak people who manage the protected forest in Wehea-Kelay EEA. "We are rebuilding local knowledge that exists in the Wehea Dayak Community, which is related to important animal protection," said Edy on the same occasion. Because forests are sacred to the Dayak community, restoring community access and ownership of forests is important. Likewise with the business units of plantation and forestry concession holders, their commitment to managing this area arises from the willingness and awareness of the company. "We got points in applying for certification for Sustainable Production Forest Management, by joining the Wehea-Kelay EEA Forum," said Director of PT Gunung Gajah Abadi (PT GGA) Totok Suripto on the same occasion. PT GGA is one of the 23 members of the Wehea-Kelay EEA Forum. Tri Sujatmiko as a representative of PT Karya Lestari who is also a member of the forum, said that orangutans are not a nuisance. "We think we can live side by side," he said. His company joining the EEA Forum also did not receive any promises, but only awareness and commitment to forest conservation.
Fahmi added that the establishment of Wehea Kelay EEA, which began with the birth of a joint declaration, strengthened the commitment of the parties. "I see it as more effective, because there is no coercion on the members, but a shared commitment," he said. However, it is precisely this awareness that makes the EEA Forum action plan, on average, achieved between expectations and reality. YKAN Senior Manager Niel Makinuddin said that: "This forum is a collaboration of parties with an institutional foundation that is driven by trust," he said. Based on research, studies, and surveys, Wehea-Kelay EEA continues to evolve with the times.
Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) is a scientific-based non-profit organization that has been present in Indonesia since 2014. With the mission of protecting lands and waters as life support systems, we provide innovative solutions to realize the harmony of nature and humans through effective natural resource management, prioritizing a non-confrontational approach, and building a network of partnerships with all stakeholders for a sustainable Indonesia. For more information, visit ykan.or.id.