UNESCO Promotes Integrity of Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra Through An Ecotourism Master Plan
UNESCO and Indonesia Ecotourism Network (INDECON) hosted a regional stakeholder meeting on 22 May 2014 in Medan, focusing on “Enhancing the Integrity of Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra by Developing an Ecotourism Plan” in order to support Indonesia’s initiative to develop sustainable ecotourism in Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra which is a world heritage site.
Within the framework of “Enhancing the Integrity of Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra through Developing Ecotourism Plan”, UNESCO Jakarta in cooperation with Indonesia Ecotourism Network (INDECON) conducted a regional stakeholders meeting. This meeting covered ecotourism issues across the three national parks (Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park, and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park).
The meeting was conducted on 22 May 2014 in Medan and supported by the Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs, Government of Spain. The meeting referred to various strategic issues, including lack of planning and consensus on tourism development in the national park areas; as well as the impact of implementation of new regulations for tourism. It also highlighted the importance of enhancing the understanding of local stakeholders on potential benefits from World Heritage Site management for these areas. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and Ministry of Forestry, Republic of Indonesia, national parks management, local government (tourism office of the associated province and district) and civil society (local community group, local tour operator, community operators, and NGOs).
During the opening session Dr. Shahbaz Khan, Deputy Director of UNESCO Office Jakarta remarked that Biosphere Reserves (BR) and Natural World Heritage (NWH) Sites are protected areas supported by UNESCO as in-situ biodiversity conservation areas. Dr. Khan highlighted the importance of informing local communities and local governments in how BRs and NWH sites are being recognized all over the world. The main challenges being faced are bringing the status of BRs and NWHs to attention of the relevant political and local stakeholders and how to make them more aware about the importance of ecological processes and biodiversity conservation.
The representative of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Ms. Retno Darimurti in her presentation emphasized that tourism in Indonesia has become an important economic activity providing opportunities for travelers to experience the nature and culture and to learn and understand the importance of biodiversity conservation. At the same time, Ms. Darimurti reminded that ecotourism can provide income to the communities which are located in and around the ecotourism sites.
Mr. Budi Faisal, from Tourism Planning and Development Center (P2Par) of Bandung Institute of Technology emphasized on the perception and understanding of stakeholders in the utilization of National Parks through the development of ecotourism. He emphasized that in Bukit Barisan Selatan NP the key challenge is the integration and realization of a shared commitment to improve the quality of biodiversity and tourism.
The development potential of ecotourism in the three National Parks was also presented by Mr. Rifky Sungkar from Indecon. He explained that Gunung Leuser NP and Kerinci Seblat NP already have a good connectivity in ecotourism travel packages. Most of the international tourists have been traveling both to Gunung Leuser and Kerinci Seblat NPs in one package, while the ecotourism in Bukit Barisan Selatan NP could not be connected with the GLNP and KSNP tourism packages. However the tourism activities in the three national parks still have some issues of concern such as a lack of facilities, accessibility, tourist travel patterns, tourism activities, and the number of tourist arrivals.
The agreed actions which will be included in the ecotourism masterplan are as follows:
- Halting the rate of forest degradation through development of ecotourism at the local leve to make it eco-friendly and useful for the community around the National Parks.
- Improving the management of ecotourism in TRHS.
- Improving the competitiveness of National Parks as ecotourism destination in Indonesia.
- Improving the connectivity in the region of TRHS in developing travel products, business networking and accessibility.
- Establishing partnership for the development of ecotourism in the region of TRHS.
Within the framework of the efforts on supporting biodiversity conservation and the effective management and protection of the critical wildlife habitats in Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, this stakeholder meeting immediately followed the workshop on “Enhancing the protection of biodiversity and critical habitat of orangutan in tropical rainforest of Sumatra”, held on 20-21 May in Medan as part of Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) led by UNESCO and UNEP. (Link: UNESCO joins hands with the local stakeholders to protect orangutan in Sumatra).
Further information: Shahbaz Khan, Deputy Director and Head of Environmental Science Unit (s.khan(at)unesco.org)
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