Francisca Christy Rosana, Jakarta – The West Manggarai Tourism Rescue Society Forum (Formapp) announced that it strongly rejects the project that plans to build a "Jurassic Park" theme park located at the Rinca Island, Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, which they fear will threaten the natural habitat of wildlife in the Komodo National Park, which the island is located in.
"All of us who are active in tourism and conservationism strongly reject the plan to build a geopark at the Loh Buaya area [in Rinca Island]," said Formapp members, Venan Haryanto, to Tempo on Monday, September 14.
According to Venan, the construction plan that involves establishing concrete-based structures are against the Komodo's natural habitat that has been named as a national conservation site and a natural area protected under Forestry Ministry's Law No.306/1992.
Venan also believes that the Jurassic Park-esque facility – including plans to drill wells to support the facility – will eventually destroy the natural landscape of the Rinca Island's wildlife habitat that depends on the island's natural water sources.
It is also believed that if the plan eventually comes to fruition, the nature-based tourism businesses – which Labuan Bajo is known for – at the island will be under severe threat. The Formapp member suspects that the project is pushed by the interest of investors.
Meanwhile, Formapp chairperson Aloysius Suhartim Karya said his group of local businessmen demands the Indonesian government to halt the construction plan of the geopark at the Rinca Island.
"We also demand the government to be completely transparent regarding its construction and immediately consult the public beforehand," said Karya.
Formapp also openly condemns the attempts to transform the National Komodo Park into an investment area and demands the government to increase its attempts to actually sustain the region's natural resources as a long-term asset.
Formapp claims they have sent official protest letters to the local DPRD (Manggarai Legislative Council) three times and also to the House of Representatives (DPR) but has yet received any response. Their latest attempt was by notifying the UNESCO and UNEP on September 9, 2020.
However, the East Nusa Tenggara tourism agency head, Wayan Darmawa, said the construction of Rinca Island has thoroughly considered the security aspect for tourists who will visit the location as he defends it separates the komodo area with tourist areas. "The facilities there separate the komodo with visitors to eliminate the unwanted risks in the future," he said to Tempo about the project that has allocated Rp21.25 billion from the Indonesian government.