The United Nations Foundation has agreed to match Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) support for a conservation action and network program in Sumatra that will build local capacity to manage the island’s third largest national park and benefit two other important parks as well.
Together the parks—Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Kerinci Seblat and Gunung Leuser—represent the most important blocks of lowland forests on the island.
Declared a single "Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra" World Heritage Site on June 30 by the World Heritage Committee, the three parks are located on the main spine of the Bukit Barisan Mountains known as the Andes of Sumatra.
CEPF will provide $900,000 to the UN Foundation to be administered through UNESCO for implementation of the Conservation Action and Network Program, Indonesia (CANOPI) in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. The UN Foundation will match this amount.
"Without the UN Foundation’s support, CANOPI would not have happened,” said Judy Mills, Asia grant director for CEPF.
CANOPI will train local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals in and around Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park to monitor and mitigate threats to the park's biodiversity.
The park contains more lowland forest than any other protected area on the island and acts as the main watershed for western Lampung. It also contains important populations of critically endangered mammals unique to the island such as Sumatran tiger and Sumatran rhinoceros.
“The plan is that when training is carried out in Bukit Barisan Selatan, park managers and other NGOs from the other parks will be part of it,” said Seema Paul, senior program officer, biodiversity, for the UN Foundation, which works in partnership with UNESCO to support and promote the management and conservation of natural World Heritage sites.
“This is a win-win partnership: CEPF is funding an important model for conservation where there is such a dearth of good models, and we will help to enhance and replicate this model in other areas," she said.
The program will also provide small grants to the newly trained NGOs to implement specific projects related to the park’s conservation.
In the previous 12 years, Sumatra lost more than 6.5 million hectares of forest due to a variety of human activities. The Bukit Barisan Selatan ecosystem, including the national park and surrounding forest area, was no exception: More than 20 percent of the forest within the 365,000-hectare park was cleared for illegal agriculture.
CEPF’s previous support to CANOPI included two grants to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for creation of the program’s strategic plan and management structure together with nine local partner organizations. WCS also provided several small grants of approximately $10,000 each to local partners to address urgent threats to the park while the plan was being developed.
The preparation proved successful: In April, after more than a year of discussions among the partner organizations, the nine local groups and WCS signed an agreement to work under the auspices of CANOPI to enhance collaborative management of the Bukit Barisan Selatan landscape.
A council comprised of representatives from each of the organizations will oversee the program and work together with local park authorities.
The groups’ commitment to clearly defined roles and shared responsibilities in protecting this important yet threatened ecosystem is a major milestone in the Sundaland biodiversity hotspot, where civil society groups traditionally work independently.