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Preserving the Sahendaruman Protected Forests Through Participatory Spatial Mapping

If you look at it through a world atlas, Sangihe Island is just a tiny spot in the northernmost boundary of Indonesia's great archipelago. However, the world of global biodiversity conservation records this small island eminently.

The encircling deep sea is a natural barrier to the distribution of flora and fauna, causing the island to have very high biodiversity endemicity. Based on bird diversity alone, Sangihe is the only place which hosts ten endemic species; all inhabiting the area of Mt. Sahendaruman protected forests.

Sangihe Hanging-parrot, Sangihe Scops-owl, Sangihe Lilac Kingfisher, Sangihe Dwarf-kingfisher, Sangihe Pitta, Sangihe Whistler, Sangihe Golden Bulbul, Elegant Sunbird, Sangihe White-eye and Cerulean Flycatcher are highly depended on the forest ecosystem of Mt. Sahendaruman. Due to this, the Wallacea Ecosystem Profile included the mountain as priority Key Biodiversity Area and included it in the funding from the Sangihe-Talaud and North Sulawesi Sea Corridor of Wallacea Partnership Program on.

Unfortunately, the remaining protected forest of Mt. Sahendaruman is now less than 500 hectares due to land conversion practices. The conservation of biodiversity on Sangihe Island is not the only thing that is threatened by adverse effects of forest degradation. The livelihood of thousands of people in 25 villages around Mt. Sahendaruman will also suffer the consequences, because the protected forest provides vital natural services for them, in particular clean water source.

The water from Mt. Sahendaruman flows to a micro hydro power plant which produces electricity for all regions in this district-island. A healthy forest ecosystem is certainly able to support the productivity of Sangihe's leading agricultural commodities such as sago, coconut, cloves, and nutmeg. However, the expansion of agricultural land has triggered the practice of function changes on some parts of the protected forest.

Since the beginning, the delimitation of protected forest boundaries has caused controversy. Most of the people in all villages bordering protected forests refuse to install boundary markers because they were not being disseminated nor consulted. The emergence of potential conflicts and the absence of management at the site level drive the Sahendaruman forest to continue—slowly but surely—to be degraded.

Wallacea Partnership Program through the project titled “Preservation of Mt. Sahendaruman Protection Forest for Conservation of Endangered Species and Natural Services” aims to restrain the rate of destruction and establish good forestry governance on Sangihe Island. In cooperation with Perkumpulan Sampiri (Sampiri Society) as local partner, the education and consultation on the importance of protected forest are basic approaches when the project was introduced to communities in three villages around Mt. Sahendaruman.

The continuation of the approaches is spatial participatory mapping, which then will be used as a base to compile the village's natural resource management plan. The mapping was organized in three villages namely Malamenggu, Bukide and Pelelangen. After one year of project's implemention, the outcome was a local spatial agreement to organize areas for settlement, agriculture and protection.

After the agreement being legitimated as village regulation in 2016, the community no longer conducted area clearing and cultivating inside the forest area. The spring and landslide-prone areas located in agricultural and plantation areas have been designated as protected areas. In total there are 2.157 hectare of protected forest agreed to be guarded by the communities of three villages.

A number of real changes at the site level began to emerge after the agreement, and triggered changes in development policies and planning. The approaches implemented by this project was replicated by the Government of Sangihe Islands Regency in Lelipang Village of Tamako District, focusing on revising the regulation of Ulung Peliang Village on Village Nature Conservation.

The Lelipang Village Government adopted the results of the revised regulation into a village program and allocated funds for environmental activities in the Village Revenue and Expenditure Budget 2017. Through the community participation development strategy, the efforts to preserve the Sahendaruman protected forest were not only successful at the project site, but also been replicated by residents of other villages, the village government and the district government.

Burung Indonesia continues to encourage collaboration of stakeholders in Sangihe and North Sulawesi so that forest conservation is supported by all residents and the village government around Mt. Sahendaruman. The Regent of the Sangihe Islands, Jabes Gaghana, supports the conservation of Mt. Sahendaruman as a provider of natural services that will support the food security of these regency-islands. (AWY)


The Wallacea Partnership Program is a partnership program implemented by Burung Indonesia with the support of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) to increase the capacity and role of civil society organizations in conserving biodiversity in the biogeographical area of Wallacea.