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Two-thirds of most important biodiversity sites on Indonesia`s holiday islands lack protection…

A total of 63% of the most important sites for biodiversity and birds, or Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the Indonesian provinces of East and West Nusa Tenggara, including the tourist mecca of Lombok, have absolutely no protection, a new study by BirdLife International reveals. The finding is amongst many in the new book surveying one of Earth`s richest areas in terms of biodiversity, Important Bird Areas of Nusa Tenggara, which is being publicised at the Vth IUCN World Parks Congress. BirdLife`s study concludes that urgent protective action must be taken now if the rich biodiversity of the five major islands making up East and West Nusa Tenggara is to be conserved. BirdLife identified 16% of the area of West Nusa Tenggara, which includes Lombok and Sumbawa, as IBAs - a total of 3,200 square kilometres. A total of 13%, or some 6,300 square kilometres of East Nusa Tenggara, comprising Flores, Sumba and Indonesian West Timor, as well as smaller Komodo, famous for its dragons, were identified as IBAs. Of the 43 IBAs in the provinces, three, containing half of the total IBA land area of West Nusa Tenggara, have no protection, and 24 sites, comprising two-thirds of East Nusa Tenggara`s total IBA area, are unprotected.The islands are home to 40 endemic birds and new species are still being discovered. As recently as 2001, on Sumba, the Sumba Owl, Ninox sumbaensis, was identified as a new species. Most of the endemic species depend on the forest habitat. Seventeen bird species are globally threatened, such as the Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Cacatua sulphurea, which today only occurs on Sumba and Komodo in the region.A special conservation priority is the up-and-coming tourist island of Flores. This small island has 18 of Nusa Tenggara`s endemic bird species, four of them unique to the island. All four are globally threatened including the Endangered Flores Monarch, Monarcha sacerdotum and the Endangered Flores Scops-owl, Otus alfredi, which has only been recorded a few times in one small area over the last 150 years. Unprotected IBAs on Flores are also home to populations of the globally threatened Flores Giant-rat, Papagomys armandvellei and Komodo Dragon, Varanus komodoensis. Eleven bird species are endemic to the island of Timor, encompassing the Indonesian western half and the independent eastern half, while Sumba has seven endemic to the island. In Timor, the Endangered Timor Green Pigeon, Treron psittacea, is highly threatened because of hunting and habitat loss. However, across the whole of East and West Nusa Tenggara, deforestation for agriculture and housing is the major threat to unprotected IBAs BirdLife, which has been working to protect biodiversity in Indonesia since 1992, proposes the development of alternative conservation models for areas management owing to the generally populated nature of the IBAs, and additional pressure from the heavily-populated nature of the provinces in general. Participatory management models involving government, business, NGOs and locals are more accepted by the community and the government and avoid conflicts that have occurred in the past between the two parties.would be beneficial to involve them in the conservation of their surroundings for their long-term benefit, says Ria Saryanthi, Research and Development Co-ordinator at BirdLife Indonesia. The culture, human dimension and social economic aspects should be considered in developing management models to conserve priority sites for biodiversity and natural resources in Nusa Tenggara.BirdLife has already seen two IBAs in Sumba designated as national parks, Manupeu-Tanadaru and Laiwanggi-Wanggameti, both in 1998, and across Indonesia has continued wild population and trade monitoring surveys. BirdLife helps in the prosecution of parrot traders, has an awareness programme for schools about the wild bird trade and carries out rehabilitation of released birds. BirdLife is currently involving local communities in managing the valuable Mbeliling forest area on Flores and developing sustainable economic activities within it. The area supports important populations of the Endangered Flores Hanging-parrot Loriculus flosculus, and Endangered Flores Crow Corvus florensis, the principal population of the Flores Monarch and is the richest area for restricted-range species on the island.This groundbreaking book will help conservationists and government to identify the priority areas still in need of protection in Nusa Tenggara, one of the richest regions on Earth for biodiversity, says Sukianto Lusli, Director of BirdLife Indonesia . Unfortunately the study has also revealed just how precarious the situation will remain for several species of birds if the protected area network is not extended to save them and managed with the participation of all stakeholders. The fact that only 37% of IBAs are currently in protected areas in this incredibly biodiverse area for birds may not be enough to halt extinctions.For further information, contact: Ade Long in Durban: tel 082 370 0553; birdlifeatWPC@yahoo.com or Gareth Gardiner-Jones at BirdLife International in Cambridge, UK: tel. +44 (0)1223 279903; 07779 018 332 (mobile); gareth.gardiner@birdlife.org.uk

4th July 2014