The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Sat, August 31 2013, 9:40 AM
The government will be issuing a list of invasive alien species in the country following the rapid decline of local biodiversity due to the spread of imported species, introduced throughout the country via tourism and free trade.
“The species from other countries have caused a decline in Indonesia’s native species. We think it’s urgent to issue the list to protect our local biodiversity,” deputy assistant at the biodiversity and damaged land control unit of the Environment Ministry, Antung Deddy Radiansyah, said during a public hearing on Wednesday.
The list, which includes prohibited plants, animals and organisms, comprises 53 species in the agricultural sector, 99 species in the forestry sector and 112 species in the maritime and fisheries sector.
He said that up to 70 percent of Indonesia’s original species, including plants and animals, had been displaced by the invasive species, which were able to reproduce in their new habitat and, in some cases, dominate and eliminate the native species.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), invasive alien species are animals, plants or other organisms introduced by man into places out of their natural range of distribution.
Moreover, invasive alien species can harm the economy as well as health.
Antung cited the Baluran National Park in Situbondo, East Java, where exotic Acacia trees (Acacia nilotica) had invaded the land. “This plant occupies more than 50 percent of the land and it is now replacing the original savanna in Baluran and threatening the indigenous Banteng Java buffalo,” he said.
Besides Acacia trees, an ornamental plant known as the Blue Mist Flower (Eupatorium sordidum), which originates from Mexico, is now threatening endemic plants at the Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park, the park’s coordinator, Ardi Andono, said.
Muniful Hanir, coordinator at the Bukit Barisan National Park in Lampung, said that foreign weeds Merremia were now growing so thickly in the area that they were impeding the natural movement of local wildlife, such as tigers, elephants and rhinos.
Antung said that tourism and trade had contributed to the introduction of these exotic species into Indonesia. “In 2005, Indonesia imported 9,604,045 ornamental plants, which had the potential to become invasive species, from South Korea, the Netherlands, Japan and the United States,” he said.
Meanwhile, Soekisman Tjitrosoedirjo from the Indonesian Weed Science Society and associate scientist at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Tropical Biology, recommended that the government create a risk evaluation system for invasive alien species, as Australia had done.
“This risk evaluation consists of 49 questions to determine whether a species can be considered invasive and should be prohibited,” he said.
Soekisman added that the definition of invasive should be carefully defined and limited so that plants or animals that had commercial potential would not be listed.
Jansen Manansang, chairman of Animal Welfare Conservation and Ethics for the Indonesian Zoological Parks Association, praised the government’s efforts to create the list on invasive alien species, saying it could protect Indonesia’s biodiversity.
“It’s a good move from the government to protect our local biodiversity, but our primary concern is implementation, which relates to the current poor law enforcement,” he said.
He added that the government needed to create a national conservation agency to control the implementation of the invasive species list.
Meanwhile, Antung said the government would issue a ministerial decree on invasive alien species so that all sectors, private and state, would be obliged to take action.(tam)