Coordination Meeting for Management of Giam Siak Kecil - Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve
The Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve (GSK-BB BR) is a biosphere reserve that covers a unique tropical peat forest ecosystem. The biosphere reserve consists of small lakes that provide hydrological function, create a balance in the ecosystem and have high biodiversity. GSK-BB biosphere reserve has an area of about 705,271 Ha. Its core area of 178,722 hectares includes 2 wildlife reserves and a production forest area which is preserved for long term conservation. The buffer zone area is 222,426 hectares and the transition area is 304,123 hectares.
The GSK-BB biosphere reserve is the first biosphere reserve in Indonesia proposed from the bottom up process by the key stakeholders in the region. The key stakeholders include the Riau BBKSDA, SMF/APP, and the Riau Provincial Government supported by LIPI, several universities, local communities, NGOs and the MAB-UNESCO Indonesia National Committee. The proposal for the GSK-BB area as a biosphere reserve was also triggered by the Madrid Declaration. The Madrid Declaration states that a strategic partnership between government, public and private sector is the key to the successful implementation of biosphere reserve concept in a country.
The development of the GSK-BB biosphere reserve was also driven by peat swamp ecosystem conditions in the area which is very vulnerable to environmental changes. In this area, the peat swamp ecosystem is threatened by encroachment, illegal logging, forest and land fires, and other illegal activities. In addition, the welfare and education of the people in this area are also low and employment opportunities are limited. Communities living in biosphere reserves have a high potential for conflict between humans and wildlife (tigers, elephants). In addition, there are limited natural resources related to conservation area of the Giam Siak Kecil Wildlife Reserve and the Bukit Batu Wildlife Reserve.
The development of the GSK-BB biosphere reserve is a form of collaborative work between key parties in this area. The key stakeholders are local governments (Riau Province, Bengkalis Regency and Siak Regency), Ministry of Environment and Forestry (BBKSDA Riau), Research Institutes such as LIPI (now BRIN), Universities, APP Sinarmas, NGOs and local communities, and supported by the National Committee for the MAB-UNESCO Indonesia Program.
The management and development process of the GSK-BB biosphere reserve is broadly intended for peatland conservation, its biodiversity, sustainable economic development, and development of logistical support. Logistical support includes research, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, as well as other supporting aspects. The management of the GSK-BB biosphere reserve is based on scientific studies to support conservation and economic development activities and is internationally recognized for demonstrating sustainable development (Sustainable Development Goals).
In order to strengthen collaboration and cooperation between stakeholders in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, MAB Indonesia-BRIN, BBKSDA, Regional Government, Coordinating Board for GSK-BB Biosphere Reserve management and Belantara Foundation worked together to hold a “Biosphere Reserve Management Coordination Meeting GSK-BB”. The online meeting involved key parties and parties working in the biosphere reserve area. The meeting was aimed for sharing information, experiences, coordination and consolidation, as well as for the preparation of a periodic review which was 2 years late due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This meeting is expected to gather data for periodic reviews preparation of the GSK-BB biosphere reserve and facilitate synergistic activities between parties in CB GSK-BB in 2022. Thus, future development activities in the GSK-BB area can be more integrated and efficient. This meeting activity was held on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 at 08.30 – 13.00 WIB through a zoom meeting.
Resource persons from this meeting included stakeholders who have working programs in the core area, buffer zone and transition area of the biosphere reserve, including government representatives, universities, research institutes, and NGOs.
This meeting discussed the problems and challenges of development program in the GSK-BB biosphere reserve; prepared strategies and programs for the biosphere reserve development; and mapped activities that were and/or are held by stakeholders in the region. The meeting also discussed sinergystic and coordination of program implementation in GSK-BB, as a vehicle for sustainable development in this region.
Prof. Purwanto (Executive Director, MAB-UNESCO Indonesia National Committee, BRIN) stated that “We have identified complex problems and challenges related to GSK BB biosphere reserve development, since the beginning of its nomination process. The main problems include illegal activities in this area, such as illegal logging, encroachment, poaching, tenure conflicts, human conflicts with wild animals, forest fires, and environmental problems. This very complicated condition actually increased the enthusiasm of key parties to try to make this area implement the concept of a biosphere reserve," he said.
“The development of Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve is expected to reduce illegal activities and become the starting point for this area to be managed sustainably. Efforts to implement biosphere reserves concepts that have been carried out for more than 10 years in this area have been able to reduce the rate of degradation of this area. Even though illegal activities still occur in this area,” added Prof. Purwanto.
Efforts to develop GSK-BB biosphere reserve as an area to demonstrate sustainable development will continue to be carried out with all efforts through various strategies and development schemes by prioritizing multi-stakeholder management, a landscape ecosystem approach, involving stakeholders and local communities, strengthening partnerships, applying scientific principles and science and technology development and innovation, and implement continuous improvement.
The Executive Director of the Belantara Foundation, Dr. Dolly Priatna, added that Belantara fully supports the programs at Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu biosphere reserve. Belantara will also actively carry out forest protection and restoration activities, biodiversity conservation, community empowerment, and climate action, especially in GSK-BB biosphere reserve.
The event was also attended by Hans Dencker Thulstrup Senior Program Specialist Water Environmental Sciences, UNESCO Office; Head of Bappeda Riau Province; Director of Management of KSDAE KK Ministry of Environment and Forestry; Head of OR IPH / BRIN Biology Research Center; Head of the Riau KSDA Center; APP Sinar Mas; Universitas Riau; Project ITTO GSK-BB; Biosphere Reserves in Indonesia; relevant NGO representatives; etc.