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Closer look: Balancing conservation and development in Murung Raya, Central Kalimantan

Murung raya
Written by: Godwin Limberg
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The Murung Raya district occupies 2.3 million hectares in the geographic centre of Borneo, straddling the equator in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan. Ecosystems in this district include significant areas of lowland mixed dipterocarp forest, a variety of heath forest, up to sub-mountainous and moss forests.

Protecting natural treasures

Besides a wealth of biodiversity and a variety of ecosystems, Murung Raya is also rich in natural resources, vast stands of commercial timber, and extensive coal and gold deposits. Forests in the remote mountainous periphery of the district are protected, but large areas of the remaining lowland dipterocarp forest are allocated to timber and mining companies.

Presently, the level of timber and coal extraction is relatively low, but coal exploitation is likely to increase dramatically in the near future. Influencing operational standards of these industrial land users is key to ensuring that conservation needs are integrated in the regional economic development model.

To address this issue, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working closely with local stakeholders to lay the foundation for sound future natural resource management. The approach focuses on strengthening the legal framework, local capacity building and facilitating local forest conservation initiatives as practical examples of conservation benefits to local stakeholders.

FFI is working in the region on the Murung Raya Conservation and Sustainable Development Project – a multi-faceted pioneering partnership project consisting of several interlinked components.

This project is building the foundations for sustainable conservation activities in the region, as well as the skills of the community members who will lead it.

Photo credit: Ally Catterick/FFI

Achievements to date

This programme of work is referred to as the Murung Raya Conservation and Sustainable Development project and consists of support to the revision of the regional spatial plan, collaboration with the Borneo Orang-utan Survival Foundation to identify appropriate orang-utan reintroduction location, and if feasible commence release, community conservation leadership training, identification of sustainable funding for conservation and increasing awareness.

FFI has been active in the district through:

  • providing the opportunity for over 50 people to be trained in Geographical Information Systems (GIS):  A basic GIS training for more than 40 representatives from the district government agencies and a series of three advanced GIS trainings for 10 district government officials from different agencies. This has resulted in increased awareness of the need of data sharing and the interest in establishing a cross-sectoral forum to exchange and compile data expecting to improve planning
  • engaging local community representatives in conservation training: 20 participants trained in mapping, biodiversity conservation, media & communication and sustainable development, resulting in strengthening of a community forest protection initiative, creating awareness about this initiative and obtaining support from the district agencies. Several opportunities for similar initiatives have been identified by government officials
  • assisting the government in developing accurate GIS maps of the district to support Land Use Planning
  • supporting for the revision of the provincial regulations for Oil Palm Development projects, resulting in making High Conservation Value area assessments mandatory for all new oil palm plantations
  • collaborating to design a multi-stakeholder process to support revision of the provincial regulation on mining
  • Assisting all stakeholders to prepare a strategic vision and planning for orang-utan conservation in the district, including restocking & protection of existing populations
  • Supporting one local forest conservation initiative, resulting in support by the local government and initiation of the process to ensure management rights for the community.

Through these activities FFI has generated demand for more local initiatives and will continue to bring together government, industry stakeholders and local communities to discuss and plan for the sustainable development and conservation of the rich natural resources of this region of Borneo.

Written by
Godwin Limberg

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“The projects aims to integrate conservation with rapid regional development in the vast remaining tropical forests of the Murung Raya district, Borneo.”

Godwin Limberg

Programme Manager, Murung Raya Project

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