As requested by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the State Party submitted an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) in February 2007 to address the trend in loss of value and integrity of the property. The EAP covers a period of 5 years (2007 to 2011), and includes considerations on institutional and governance issues, land encroachment, illegal logging, road construction, wildlife poaching and trading, and promotion and presentation issues. For each of these, the main programmes, strategies, performance indicators, broad time-frames, and responsible stakeholders have been identified in the EAP.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have reviewed the EAP and feel that although it provides a good framework for action, it needs to be further elaborated by outlining specific activities under each of the identified strategies and the estimated budget and specific time-lines for each of those activities. This process should be completed in consultation with, and inputs from, all relevant stakeholders, including the civil society. Only then would it become a strategic and useful document for fund-raising and implementation purposes. The State Party is encouraged to seek assistance from the World Heritage Fund to support this effort.
Following the request of the Committee at its 30th session, a joint UNESCO/IUCN mission visited Jakarta and Sumatra from 5 to 11 March 2007. In Jakarta the mission held discussions with the Ministry of Forestry and other Central Government agencies, and in Sumatra it travelled to the Gunung Leuser and Kerinci Seblat National Parks and held discussions with the local authorities and stakeholders concerned. The full mission report is accessible at: http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2007
Overall, the mission noted some positive developments and significant improvements since the 2006 mission, these and other observations are briefly summarised as follows:
a) Illegal logging
(i) Pressures relating to illegal logging have been a major issue in all three parks constituting this property. However, the recent Presidential Decree on Illegal Logging has made a clear impact. This Decree further involves 18 ministries and requests the Heads of District Administrations to establish integrated inter-agency Task Forces to address illegal logging issues.
(ii) The positive impact of action to address illegal logging can be seen in the the Kerinci Seblat National Park, where decrees have been issued at the district level in some cases, mirroring the Presidential Decree. In both Gunung Leuser and Kerinci Seblat the mission team was advised that illegal logging has been halted and illegal sawmills and logging roads closed down.
(iii) The mission was also informed that a law to deal with illegal logging throughout Indonesia had been drafted and is under finalization.
(iv) The action by the State Party in establishing a Forest Rangers Quick Response System (SPORC) is also a positive initiative that should be expanded and applied to address illegal logging and encroachment problems in a more strategic and regular manner.
(i) Encroachment is by far the most serious ascertained threat affecting the property and is widespread along the boundaries of the property, particularly within the Kerinci Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.There are two broad types of encroachments: first, those dealing with industrial interests such as the expansion of commercial oil palm plantation (and coffee, particularly in Bukit Barisan National Park); second those associated with agricultural activities of local communities.
(ii) The Mission noted the effective action taken by the Park Manager of the Gunung Leuser National Park to remove part of an oil palm plantation within the park. This has involved the cutting down of oil palms previously planted within the boundary of the national park. It is important that examples such as this, which highlight the willingness of the park authorities to take action, are widely promoted to discourage further encroachments within park boundaries.
(iii) The options for dealing with encroachments will require a firmer stand and approach than has previously been taken. The options include: voluntary relocation of people illegally living inside the boundaries of the site and rehabilitation of recovered areas; or rationalization of park boundaries to exclude encroachments which are impossible to deal with.
(iv) Given the effectiveness of the Presidential Decree in addressing illegal logging it is strongly recommended that a similar Decree be issued urgently to address the important issue of encroachment.
c) Road development
(i) The development of roads within the property has been a particular issue within the Kerinci Seblat National Park where a total of 34 roads had been proposed, including a number through the core zone of the property. The Mission noted that these proposals had been stopped and applauds this decision.
(ii) AKAR, which is a consortium of 20 local NGOs who were given a grant under the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) project of UNF-FFI-UNESCO, has played a crucial role in supporting park management in Kerinci Seblat and blocking the construction of these roads.
(iii) The mission noted the instruction issued by the Directorate-General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA) in September 2006 prohibiting the construction of roads inside conservation areas has been effective, but the situation on the ground has to be closely monitored for taking immediate preventive and corrective action. There are a number of pressures for development of roads and it is important that any such future proposals are firmly resisted.
d) Governance and capacity
(i) The Mission Team noted that the management units in TRHS have been upgraded from Echelon III to II, which means the Park Managers are now upgraded as Directors, so that they can better interface with counterparts at the local and national levels. Each management unit will have 4-5 Divisions with 8 sections, and the number of staff has also been increased significantly. In addition, the budget has been doubled. These measures have been taken with the involvement of the Ministry of Administrative Reforms. This upgrading of the organizational structure is fully supported. It is important that the appointment of these positions be implemented as a matter of priority and that the selection process for these positions is open, transparent and based on merit.
(ii) The mission was informed that Debt-for-Nature Swap (DNS) with the Government of Germany worth 63 million euros had been finalized which will bring significant resources for the TRHS up to 2009, and if funds are still available, this assistance will continue until 2012. The Government should strive to sustain this level of budgetary increase.
(iii) All 3 parks should function as one cohesive world heritage property. There needs to be closer cooperation between Park Directors and to establish an effective coordination mechanism. There should also be an exchange of staff between the three sites, and where possible joint program development, so as to share experience and enhance capacity in addressing encroachment.
e) Promotion and Interpretation
(i) The Mission noted very limited promotion of the world heritage status of the property, particularly in relation to signposting and the preparation of promotional materials. More attention needs to be given to the promotion of the world heritage status of the property and that all main entry points to the national parks have clear signposting which recognizes world heritage status.
The mission concludes that the property continues to face severe threats to the values for which it was inscribed, as well as to its integrity and these must be addressed as a matter of urgency. The recommendations of the mission are included in the draft decision.