Hutan Harapan is the name of the first production forest area in Indonesia that is managed to restore its ecosystem or known as ecosystem restoration (RE). This production forest management initiative has inspired the birth of more ecosystem restoration areas in an effort to save the remaining forests. Hutan Harapan is a reference for RE studies in Indonesia.
Ecosystem Restoration is an effort to restore the biological elements (flora and fauna) and non-biological elements (soil, climate, and topography) in an area to the original species, so as to achieve the biological balance and its ecosystem. According to the Minister of Forestry Regulation No. SK.159 / Menhut-II / 2004, ecosystem restoration activities can be carried out in the Production Forest area through a Business License for the Utilization of Timber Forest Products for Ecosystem Restoration (IUPHHK-RE).
In general, Hutan Harapan management is oriented to ecosystem-based forest management to improve the economic value of forests, the restoration of flora and fauna that have important value and provide economic benefits to the communities around the forest. The Hutan Harapan ecosystem restoration effort is a real effort to maintain and restore the condition of Sumatra’s lowland forests which is very important.
Ecosystem restoration activities aim at:
- restoration and enhancement of natural plant ecosystem forest diversity,
- recovery, and improvement of natural forest productivity,
- restoration and improvement of habitat quality, specifically selected habitat (key),
- restoration of diversity and animal populations, especially selected animal populations (key),
- recovery and improvement of hydrological function and control of soil erosion,
- capacity building and participation of local communities in forest management (ecosystem restoration),
- enhancing the economic potential of forests in the form of ecotourism, research, education and training for sources of funding for managing forest ecosystems, poverty alleviation (welfare) for communities and local and central government revenues,
- institutional development of a forest management system based on biodiversity of production natural forest ecosystems with the participation (collaboration) of stakeholders, namely PT Reki, local communities, NGOs, universities, research institutions, the central government, and regional governments.
The Hulu Sungai Meranti-Hulu Sungai Lalan and Kapas River forest groups are generally secondary forest areas (logged over areas / LOA). Based on the interpretation of Citra Landsat TM 234 in 2006 the condition of forests is grouped into 3 namely: high secondary forest (productive forest), medium secondary forest (less productive forest), and low secondary forest (unproductive forest).
- The high secondary forest has complete vegetative stratification from seedling, sapling, pole, and tree level. Canopy cover ranges from 71-100 percent with an average tree diameter greater than 20 cm. Forests with this category cover an area of 33 percent.
- Medium secondary forest is a transition between low and high secondary forests, such as canopy cover around 40-71 percent and vegetation structure dominated by tree-level poles. This area is also categorized as a degraded forest. The forest area with this category covers 32 percent area.
- Low secondary forests are forests with canopy cover less than 40 percent. This area is also categorized as a highly degraded forest, which has a land cover that varies from shrubs (understorey), especially in burnt areas or forests with vegetation structures dominated by saplings. The forest areas with this category cover an area of 35 percent.
450/5000 Tree species in high secondary forests are dominated by meranti (Shorea spp), medang (Litsea spp), and balam (Palaquium spp) species. Tree species in secondary forests are being dominated by meranti (Shorea spp), medang (Litsea spp), and kempas (Koompasia excelsa). Some tree species are included in protected species, including jelutong (Dyera sp), surian (Toona sp), bulian (Eusideroxylon zwageri), and Tembesu (Fagraea fragrans).
Based on the data available at the beginning of management it is known that in the ecosystem restoration area it is estimated that there are at least 374 species consisting of 55 species of mammal class, 293 class of aves class, 38 species of reptile class and 26 species of amphibian class. The number of fauna species classified as endemic species or protected by law in the ecosystem restoration area is 44 species or 29.33 percent consisting of 20 species of mammal class, 22 species of a class of aves, and 2 species of a class of reptiles. The latest data on Hutan Harapan flora and fauna can be seen in other sections of the Hutan Harapan website.
Illegal logging in the area of ecosystem restoration is quite alarming and threatens forest sustainability if adequate action is not taken immediately. In the early days, the location of illegal logging activities was as follows:
- Hulu Sungai Kandang (North and Northeast Locations). The types of wood felled are Meranti (Shorea sp), Bulian (Eusideroxilon zwageri), Kempas (Koompasia excelsa), and Keranji (Dialium sp).
- Hulu Sungai Meranti (Western Part Location). Types of wood taken include Meranti and Kulim types.
- Hulu Sungai Kapas (Northwestern Location). The types of wood that are taken are generally Meranti, Kempas, Kulim, and Petaling types.
Forest encroachment activities have taken place from 2006 until now and are located in several locations within the ecosystem restoration area, and need serious handling, especially from the way they open the fields by slashing and burning the fields which are dangerous and triggers forest fires. The reason for land clearing aside from opening rubber or oil palm plantations is also the need for land claims, in order to get compensation from forestry or plantation companies that will enter.
The Framework of the Concept of Ecosystem Restoration Strategies
Sustainable management of forest areas is the main basis of ecosystem restoration activities that prioritize the management of production aspects (providing resources to carry out restoration, utilization of non-timber forest products and enhancing the potential of restoration areas), ecology (inventory of forest potential of both flora and fauna, securing forest areas both from human and natural disturbances, recovery and forest restoration) and social (participatory boundary arrangements, social and economic development of forest village communities, resource conflict management) until ecosystem balance is achieved.
In a low secondary forest, restoration activities are intended to restore land productivity by using local types of intolerance. Planting is designed primarily to restore protection functions and ecological services, produce wood or produce multiple products.
In a medium secondary forest, restoration activities are designed to increase land productivity and restore (in part) the diversity of native flora and fauna species for ecological and economic interests through enrichment activities.
In a high secondary forest, restoration activities are designed to restore the structure, productivity and species diversity of the initial forest ecosystem by prioritizing maintenance and protection (ecosystem recovery) activities.
The Arrangement of Work Areas
The Arrangement of Work Areas covers the activity of dividing forests into blocks, plots, and sub-plots as a management unit for sustainability and forest ecosystems. The boundaries of the Annual Work Plan (RKT) block and the plot must be clear in the field and mapped.
Forest inventories as an inventory of flora and fauna diversity (including fauna populations and their habitats) and an inventory of forest cover conditions and potential forest stands.
Opening of Forrest Area (PWH)
Opening of Forest Areas (PWH) is the key to the success of ecosystem restoration management activities because with the availability of transportation roads, the entire implementation of planting, enrichment/rehabilitation, maintenance of stands, security and protection of forests, development of ecotourism, and utilization of non-timber forest products.
Seed procurement is an activity that includes the preparation of nurseries, procurement of facilities and infrastructure, and other activities related to seedling procurement. The mean and purpose of this activity is to obtain high-quality seeds or seedlings in sufficient quantities and in a timely manner as well as to improve the quality and productivity of forests and biodiversity in accordance with the conditions of the place to grow by using local high-quality local agricultural tree seedlings and according to the type the desired type.
Planting and Enrichment
Planting activities are prioritized in unproductive forests in areas of high conservation value areas, ecosystem protection areas, and areas of high socioeconomic value with specifications of local superior plant species that are able to grow fast in open areas.
The activity of enrichment is prioritized in areas that are not sufficiently young for the purpose of improving species composition, distribution of trees and biodiversity values with specifications of native plant species that are becoming scarce, types of animal feed. Stages in the activities of planting and enrichment include structuring the work area, preparing seedlings, making planting, and planting paths.
Plant maintenance is divided into two types of activities, namely plant maintenance/enrichment and maintenance of fostered trees. Plant maintenance is a plant maintenance job by cleaning plant pathways, killing weeds and trees, and embroidering dead plants with the aim of maintaining the number of plants/trees and spurring their growth/productivity. Maintenance of fostered trees is carried out with thinning activities with the aim of maintaining high increment.
Forest protection is an activity that aims to protect the forest from various disturbances, including illegal logging, forest encroachment, forest fires, hunting of animals, pests and diseases, soil and water conservation and other disturbances carried out throughout the restoration area so that vegetation growth can be optimal.
Forest protection activities include:
- Establish a security unit and routine patrol.
- Installing prohibition signs and counseling to increase public awareness.
- Build a forest security system together with the community.
- Conduct research related to the conservation of natural resources and the environment.
- Conducting conservation activities with the community in collaboration with related parties.
Community Partnership and Development
Community activities that have been tending to damage forests through illegal logging, hunting, poaching, and shifting agriculture can be transformed into activities that support ecosystem restoration activities through the active participation of local communities in all aspects of ecosystem restoration activities that they can do.
Therefore, the approach to be taken by Hutan Harapan Management in managing forests through restoration activities refers to several principles:
- Carrying out adaptive and multiple-use forest management.
- Involving local stakeholders in forest management.
- Provide certainty of local community access to non-timber forest resources.
- Increase economic benefits for local communities and opportunities to get income from forest resource management.
Selected Flora Fauna Habitat Restoration
This activity is intended to restore ecosystem functions and the role of each component of the ecosystem in degraded areas. This effort is needed to control erosion, restore fauna habitat, and reduce negative impacts on disturbed areas.
Restoration of flora habitat is carried out by considering these species as key species, drastic population decline, slow natural regeneration, high economic value benefits, large and broad ecological benefits, as well as legal protection and the establishment of international institutions as species that threatened with extinction.
Fauna restoration is carried out by collecting fauna data and inventory, fauna habitat inventory and data collection, an arrangement of core fauna habitat preservation area, faunal habitat development, and faunal population guidance. (*)