Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

Introduction to Danau Sentarum National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. (Research Notes)

Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

Introduction to Danau Sentarum National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. (Research Notes)

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Danau Sentarum National Park (further referred to as DSNP or the Park) covers an area of 132,000 hectares, and is located in the floodplain of the upper Kapuas River in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo (Figure 1). The Park lies between the Kapuas River and the border with Sarawak, and is located between 0[degrees]40'-0[degrees]55' N and 112[degrees]00'-112[degrees]25' E at an average elevation of 35 meters. DSNP consists of a series of interconnected seasonal lakes (=danau), interspersed with swamp forest, peat swamp forest, and dry lowland forest on isolated hills. The area was first gazetted as a Suaka Margasatwa (Wildlife Reserve) in 1982 by decree SK No. 757/Kpts/Um/10/l982, when it extended over 80,000 hectares, with just under one-third consisting of open water. In 1994 it was enlarged to 132,000 hectares to include extensive tracts of peat swamp forest, and several hill ranges with dry lowland- and heath forest (Figure 2). In April 1994, Danau Sentarum was declared Indonesia's second Ramsar Wetla nd of International Importance, thus drawing international attention to this unique area. On 4 February 1999, its status was upgraded to that of Tam an Nasional (i.e. National Park) by decree SK 34/Kpts-II/1999, and includes the 132,000-hectare core area, along with a 65,000-hectare buffer zone proposed in 1997. The latter is disputed and has been partly earmarked for oil palm estate development (see Wadley et al., 2000).

DSNP is a key conservation area on Borneo, supporting about 250 fish species (including 12-26 endemics), about 250 bird species, Borneo's largest inland population of proboscis monkey, one of the largest remaining populations of orangutan, possibly three crocodile species, and several dozen endemic plants. The lakes support a large traditional fishing industry, utilized by over 6,500 fisher folk inhabiting 39 villages in and adjacent the Park. Forests are heavily utilized as well, both for construction timber and for a wide variety of non-timber forest products.

Apart from limited input to fisheries management by Dutch colonial administration in the early 20th century (Wadley, 2000a) and by the Fisheries Department since the late 1940s, management of DSNP's natural resources has largely been based on customary law. Officially, DSNP is managed by the Directorate General of Nature Protection and Conservation (Ditjen Pelestarian Konservasi Alam or PKA; formerly PHPA) of the Ministry of Forest and Estate Crops (MOFEC). There was no active management or representation by PKA in Danau Sentarum until the UK-Indonesia Tropical Forest Management Project (UK-ITFMP), which was funded by the British Overseas Development Administration (now Department for International Development) from 1992-1997. UK-ITFMP aimed at (re-)establishing community-based management practices and was successful in some areas, such as reinforcing local customary law, strengthening legislation, and creating local appreciation of conservation values.

PHYSICAL AND BIOLOGICAL SETTING

Hydrology and water quality

Annual rainfall in the Park fluctuates around 3,900 mm per year, while the surrounding hills and mountainous catchment area receive 4,500-6,000 mm per year. The upper Kapuas basin is very flat, and waters of the Kapuas River accumulate upstream of the natural "bottleneck" near Semitau, just downstream of the Park. Because of high precipitation levels, most of the low-lying areas in the basin are flooded in the wetter months. Three-quarters of the lakes in the 6,500 square kilometer upper Kapuas basin are included within the Park. These lakes act as a buffer for the Kapuas River system, mitigating floods and buffering water levels in the dry season. According to a model developed by Klepper (1994), one quarter of peak floods of the upper Kapuas River are siphoned off into DSNP's fakes and swamp forests, thereby significantly reducing flood damage downstream. During the dry season, up to 50 percent of upper Kapuas River waters may consist of water flowing from the lakes and swamp forests, thereby maintaining wa ter levels and safeguarding downstream water supplies. …

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