Halmahera Island of North Maluku Province has an incredible biodiversity richness. Being part of Wallacea region, the area famous for its distinctive biodiversity, Halmahera hosts numerous endemic animals. Out of 226 bird species, at least 40 of them are endemic to northern Maluku, four of which can only be found in the island.
The widest forest cover of the province is situated in Halmahera Island. It consists of several forest blocks, where the largest and most complete are the Aketajawe (77.100 hectares) and Lolobata (90.200 hectares), which are now known as the Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park. These forest blocks are also home for a semi-nomadic people, the Tobelo Dalam.
In Indonesia's Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan/IBSAP year 2003-2020, which was compiled by the National Development Planning, North Maluku Province was one of Indonesia’s most important conservation areas. This emphasized the importance of the existence of Halmahera Island to support the expansion of protected areas in Indonesia.
Efforts to protect the Aketajawe and Lolobata blocks were first carried out in the National Conservation Plan in 1981, which proposed four names for protected areas on Halmahera Island, namely Aketajawe, Lolobata, Saketa, and Mount Gamkonora. However, it could not be realized until the year of 1993, when the Indonesian Biodiversity Action Plan recommended the Lolobata forest block as a priority area for protection.
Bidadari halmahera (Semioptera wallacii), burung endemis Maluku bagian utara yang memikat Alfred Russel Wallace pada 1858.
(Foto: Burung Indonesia/Riza Marlon)
In order to solidify the stages of formation of protected areas, in the period of 1994-1996 BirdLife International-Indonesia Programme (previous name of Burung Indonesia before the year of 2002), conducted an integrated survey and identified Aketajawe and Lolobata as Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. Initially, the two areas were proposed to be separated as Lolobata Wildlife Sanctuary in the north and Aketajawe Nature Reserve in the south. However, in 1995, Burung Indonesia suggested these two blocks to be an integrated conservation area.
A year before the turn of the century, Burung Indonesia estimated that although only about 4.5% of lowland forest remained in Halmahera, at least 50% of other forest types, excluding the mangroves, survived and existed in these two forest blocks. Burung Indonesia and various parties continued to conduct studies to encourage these two forest blocks to be designated as national park areas.
In 1999, the Government of Indonesia approved that Aketajawe and Lolobata be integrated into one national park. However, the outbreak of civil unrest in Maluku Province in the same year hampered the declaration process until social and political conditions in the area were truly stable in 2002. Meanwhile, forest encroachment in Aketajawa and Lolobata at that time was still massively occurring. For this reason, Burung Indonesia continued to push for the process of establishing the first national park on Halmahera Island to be realized.
After ten years, the efforts on protecting the two blocks from damage came to fruition in 2004, when the integrated team consisted of LIPI, PHKA, and LH, which facilitated by Burung Indonesia, conducted a more comprehensive study to re-recommend Aketajawe and Lolobata as national parks to the Ministry of Forestry at that time. On 18 October 2004, the Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park was officially declared through the Decree of the Minister of Forestry Number: SK.397/Menhut-II/2004 with a total area of 167,300 hectares.
Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park was one of nine national parks declared in the same year by the Indonesian government. For the management of the national park, Burung Indonesia participated in designing a multi-stakeholder collaborative management model that was expected to be suitable with the Halmahera condition. This management model design opened collaboration between national park managers, local governments, the private sector, and local community organizations to manage the landscape around the national park and its natural resources in a sustainable manner.
The publication of this article is part of a series of publications celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Burung Indonesia. On every 15th of every month in 2017, we will publish various articles about the best achievements that Burung Indonesia has achieved during 15 years of working at the home for 1769 bird species: Indonesia.