The State Party submitted a Report on 1 February 2008 on the threats facing the property and on the progress made in addressing the recommendations of the 2006 and 2007 reactive monitoring missions. It acknowledged that extensive agricultural encroachment, illegal logging, poaching and plans for road construction seriously threaten the three components of the property: Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP), Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP), and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBSNP). The State Party also noted that these threats existed before the inscription of the property, were included in the IUCN evaluation report, and that the financial commitment, action on the ground and good governance required to address them are difficult to achieve. Indeed, while some progress has been made in reducing threats from illegal logging, however agricultural encroachment and institutional and governance weaknesses remain a serious problem. Threats to the integrity of the property from poaching and illegal road construction also continue.
The State Party also reported limited progress in addressing the decisions of the World Heritage Committee:
a) Emergency Action Plan (EAP)
The completed EAP has not been received and the State Party has yet to specify the details of activities proposed with an estimated budget, sources of funding, and timeline for implementation. A workshop, planned for the first quarter of 2008, aims to address some of these issues. The State Party is encouraged to report on the outcomes of this workshop, especially the operational plans, and disseminate them with stakeholders, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN as soon as possible, as well as to complete the EAP in 2008.
Although partial implementation of the EAP began in 2007, further action is needed to increase stakeholder participation, establish widespread recognition and awareness of World Heritage values at local and national levels, and obtain sufficient funds and capacity for effective implementation of the plan. Only GLNP has held meetings and consultations with stakeholders on EAP programs. In KSNP and BBSNP no programs have been specifically designed to implement the EAP, however materials on the values of property have been disseminated. The State Party did not report on whether any of these activities have reduced the threats to the property or facilitated the recovery of its integrity.
b) Monitoring and control of illegal logging, saw mills and road construction activities and restoration of degraded habitat
The limited EAP implementation has included strengthening management capacity through the development of GIS mapping expertise for staff, improved management facilities, and advisory support for law enforcement with financial assistance from the World Heritage Fund and Post Tsunami Assistance, and support from the Spanish Government. These activities are expected to improve monitoring and control of the property but they only target GLNP.
During 2007, many activities to combat illegal logging were carried out, including increased monitoring, establishment of an integrated inter-agency Task Force, and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to halt human-induced degradation. Activities to combat illegal road construction include three cases under investigation, and the stopping of construction in five areas. On the coastline in Lampung Barat district, and within the property, the Minister of Forestry has been approached to allow the use of a road. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN encourage the State Party to assess the impact of this road on the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property and to present the results of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to the World Heritage Committee.
As the State Party did not provide information on the extent of the area of the property which is being logged or encroached, the total number of species poached or the rates of other illegal activities, it is unclear whether the threat to the outstanding universal value and integrity of the property has changed since the reactive monitoring mission in 2007. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN encourage the State Party to include in its reports to the World Heritage Committee annual data and trends on the property, including habitat distribution, total area of encroached and logged land, status of wildlife populations, and extent of poaching.
c) Effective enforcement on encroachment
The Coordinating Minister of People's Welfare has drafted a decree to resolve encroachment. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome this decree and recommend that it be approved and enforced as soon as possible.
In KSNP, locations of encroachment in Renah Pemetik have been identified and a workshop on control took place in 2007. In Merangin district, the District Chief and Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation have signed a MOU on encroachment. As a result of encroachment control activities in several districts, arrests have occurred and investigations are underway. Despite these enforcement activities, IUCN has received information that encroachment continues to escalate in Merangin and that funding has not been identified for activities planned to control encroachment.
The State Party has also noted in its Report that concessionaires of forest and oil palm plantations surrounding the property are involved in encroachment. IUCN has received reports that in some areas, villagers are working together with oil palm concession holders to clear forest within the boundaries of the property and in the buffer zone. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN therefore suggest that the State Party work more closely with private companies and local communities to check and prevent illegal activities.
IUCN has also received reports that the 14,000 ha of primary forest added to KSNP in 2004 has now been seriously degraded and reduced by encroachment and that no border markers exist in this region. The State Party is encouraged to investigate the activities in this area and identify the causes and remedial action necessary.
In BBSNP, encroachment is particularly difficult to reduce as the area is surrounded by human settlement. Large numbers of residential encroachment areas are also a problem in Bengkunat and Suoh. In other areas, several hundred families have been encouraged to leave the property leading to the recovery of hundreds of hectares of encroached land.
In recognition of the severity of the problem in BBSNP, the authorities plan to develop a master plan to resolve encroachment in 2008. This will include alternative sources of income for squatters and the use of ecotourism and development in the buffer zone to facilitate relocation outside the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN welcome this news and encourage the State Party to provide the necessary financial and technical assistance to complete and implement this plan in 2008, in coordination with other management activities in the property.
IUCN also notes that the 2007 WWF report “Gone in an instant” details the extent of deforestation in BBSNP, showing almost 28% of the property had already been encroached upon and that 60% of this encroached land was being used for agriculture, with coffee plantations making up the major commodity grown in BBSNP.
d) Strengthen boundaries and develop a zoning system
The State Party reported that zoning in GLNP is under revision and will be completed in 2008. For KSNP’s 2500km boundary, reconstruction and marking is prioritised for the most vulnerable points where conflict and disturbance occurs. A map of KSNP has been converted to GIS so that officers can use GPS and GIS to facilitate patrols and check the boundaries in the field. The boundary of BBSNP is shared with 115 villages in 23 sub districts where disputes with farmers are common. Boundary markers and boundary maintenance took place in August 2007 and zoning boundaries have been drafted and are under consideration. The establishment of clear signs is planned for 2008 in GLNP. Three signs have been erected at entrance to KNSP in 2007 and BBSNP plans to undertake signage activities in 2008.
e) Establish and maintain coordination and cooperation between National Parks units and government agencies
The State Party has not established any specific coordination mechanism for the implementation of the EAP in the three management units, as requested by the World Heritage Committee in its decision of 2007.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that without a coordination mechanism it is not possible for the patrols and enforcement teams to collaborate effectively. Such coordination should involve the agencies and organisations involved in the property and its surroundings. It is critical that the government agencies responsible for allocating land title, permits for construction such as road permits, concessions and permits for oil palm plantations, timber extraction and forestry activities, and other agricultural activities coordinate with the management authority to combat encroachment.
Of particular concern is the proposal of a new government regulation (GER) No2/2008 which would allow closed-pit mining within protected forests. This issue is of concern for the property because mineral reserves are known in KSNP. The National Forest Council of Indonesia has allegedly recommended the government to postpone legalising this regulation. On the positive side, the mining company PT Antam, whose exploration activities extended about 2000 ha into KSNP, advised it would immediately cease exploration activities within the property.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN urge the State Party to improve liaison and coordination between the government agencies issuing licences and the park managers to ensure that no mining licences are granted inside this or another World Heritage property.
h) Other threats
Also of concern is the limited capacity to ensure that tourism is sustainable and revenue benefits local communities. The Agency for Aceh Reconstruction is supporting the development of a tourism village and other community economic empowerment activities, but only until 2008. It is not clear how these activities are coordinated with the management priorities of the property and the needs of local communities.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN acknowledge that the State Party is making efforts to implement the programmes related to the EAP but note with concern that this is not yet operational and still lacks a clear workplan with responsibilities and budget. Lack of coordination, moreover, make it difficult for the managers of the property to ensure that limited financial resources are being used effectively to restore habitat and to protect the property from further degradation.
IUCN has also received information that the KSNP operating budget has been cut for 2008 and more than 30 rangers have been seconded to the mobile forest police unit and therefore are not able to focus on poaching and encroachment prevention. IUCN is concerned that the State Party is not reacting sufficiently quickly to prevent permanent settlement on encroached lands, or to restore the habitat to allow the biodiversity values for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List to recover. IUCN considers that the outstanding universal value for which the site was inscribed is at serious risk and that the integrity of the park is being lost.
At the time of inscription IUCN recommended that the property be placed immediately on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This recommendation was repeated in the 2006 reactive monitoring mission report. The decision adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006) recommended a review of possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2007. The 2007 mission recommended that a mission in 2009 assess progress in implementation of the recommendations to determine if the property should be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger. IUCN considers, as previously noted in its evaluation report, that the current escalation in threats, combined with the lack of capacity by the park authorities to contain them, would appear to justify inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger as a signal for the international community to lend its support. This should be clarified in the proposed 2009 mission.
IUCN recommends that the reactive monitoring mission requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), to be carried out in 2009, coincide with a high level workshop with government agencies and relevant stakeholders including commercial organisations to raise awareness of threats and management problems and the need to take immediate action.