Jakarta – At least 12 endemic species of trees in the country are threatened with extinction, a researcher at the Indonesia Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Research Center for Biology has said.
Researcher Kusumadewi Sri Yulianti said that primary forests originally covered almost 64 percent of land in the archipelago, but forest coverage continued to shrink as a result of land conversion, natural resource exploitation and global climate change, among other reasons.
"Such conditions certainly threaten the preservation of forests, as well as various tree species," Kusumadewi said as quoted by kompas.com on Tuesday.
Of the country's many endemic trees, 12 rare species are listed as endangered in the Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (SRAK) of the Environment and Forestry Ministry.
Tree species are designated as "rare" based on four criteria – scarcity, level of threat, benefits and value, and level of conservation action – and are placed in three priority categories.
Priority I species are critically endangered and demand immediate conservation efforts. The endemic tree species in this category have an extremely limited geographic range and minimal population, and are threatened with extinction.
Trees designated as Priority I conservation species include the plahar Nusakambangan (Dipterocarpus littoralis), lagan bras (Dipterocarpus cinereus), the resak Banten (Vatica bantamensis), and resak Brebes (Vatica javanica subsp. Javanica).
Priority II species are highly endangered and need urgent conservation efforts. Their geographic range crosses several islands, but exist only in limited areas and have a small population. Trees in this category include the damar mata kucing or white meranti (Shorea javanica) and the Sumatra camphor (Dryobalanops sumatrensis).
"Efforts have been made to cultivate them, but not enough to restore a stable population [in the wild]," said Kusumadewi.
Priority III species have a broad geographic range, but are threatened with extinction and require conservation efforts. The trees in this category include the ulin or Bornean ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri), mersawa daun lebar or maseger (Anisoptera costata), tengkawang or light red meranti (Shorea pinanga), durian karantongan (Durio oxleyanus), red-fleshed durian (Durio graveolens) and saninten (Castanopsis argentea).
Many of these species also appear on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Kusumadewi said that relevant stakeholders had made a variety of conservation efforts to save these endemic tree species, including on-site (in-situ) conservation and community-based agroforestry to ensure sustainable harvesting practices.
She added that off-site (ex-situ) conservation had also been implemented, including setting up tree nurseries and relocating them for planting in areas outside their natural habitat, such as botanical gardens, arboretums and reclaimed land. (aly)