Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Environmental Affairs Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta has inaugurated several biodiversity parks to mark International Biological Diversity Day (IDB) 2011.
The establishment of biodiversity parks was aimed at preserving biodiversity in regions which have biodiversity with unique characteristics, Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said when commemorating the IDB at Cibodas Botanical Garden, Pangrango, Bogor, West Java, Monday (May 22).
The newly inaugurated biodiversity parks are located in East Java, West Java and North Sulawesi Provinces. Later, similar biodiversity parks will also be built in other regions such as West Sumatra, Yogyakarta, and Lampung.
The United Nations (UN) proclaims May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues worldwide.
This year`s theme of IDB is “Forest Biodiversity”, which coincides with 2011 as The International Year of Forests declared by the General Assembly to educate the global community about the value of forests and the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them.
The year 2010 was declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) under the theme “Biodiversity is Life, Biodiversity is Our Life”.
The destruction of forests is one of the most serious threats to the biodiversity loss.
Indonesia hosts the world`s third largest forest area after Brazil and Congo (formerly Zaire). But the country also is reported to be among countries with the fastest deforestation rate in the world.
According to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, Indonesia`s forest areas cover around 130 million hectares, comprising 45 million hectares of premier forests, 45 million hectares of logged over areas, and 40 million hectares of critical forest areas.
About 17 percent of all species in the world can be found in Indonesia, although it accounts for only 1.3 percent of the Earth`s land surface.
For her abundant flora and fauna species and a wide range of natural habitats, Indonesia has been acknowledged by scientists as one of the world`s mega centers of biodiversity.
The forestry ministry`s data shows that the country`s forests are habitats for among other things 38,000 plant species including 27,500 species of floral plants (10 percent of the world`s floral plants), and 1531 species of birds (the world`s 5 percent). The country also has 3,000 species of medicinal plants.
“The commemoration of Biodiversity Day 2011 is expected to promote the preservation of biodiversity in the forest ecosystem as well as other ecosystems. By preserving the biodiversity as the national asset, it could give benefits to all people,” the environmental affairs minister said.
He asked the local administrations in Indonesia to collect data on biological diversity in each region for biodiversity protection and prevent them from being stolen.
Biodiversity preservation could give benefit sharing to respective region if it is used by second or third parties, the minister said.
“Every derivative of biodiversity use will provide benefit to the concerned regions,” he said.
The benefit sharing has been guaranteed following the signing of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization by Indonesia at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, US, on May 11, 2011.
Other countries signing the Nagoya Protocol at the UN last May were Guatemala, India, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, and Tunisia.
After the signing, Indonesia is expected to ratify the Nagoya Protocol for its implementation in the country.
Last October, the 193 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Nagoya Protocol, a landmark treaty that links conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity with development.
The Nagoya Protocol is an important instrument to optimize the genetic source use and stop biopiracy practices especially for a country like Indonesia.
It outline how benefits, for example, from when a plant`s genetics are turned into a commercial product, such as medicine – will be shared with countries and communities which conserved and managed that resource.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message to mark the IDB 2011 voiced concern over alarming deforestation and the degradation of woodlands and urged States to implement the recently agreed international treaty on sharing the benefits of the Earth`s genetic resources, including forests and the natural valuables found in them.
“Despite our growing understanding and appreciation of just how much we reap from forests, they are still disappearing at an alarming rate,” he said
“Forests contain a vast – and barely catalogued – store of biodiversity. The early ratification and implementation of this protocol can support forest protection and the sustainable use of biodiversity. This, in turn, can contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable national development,” said Ban as quoted on the official website of the UN.
“The benefits of forests are far-reaching. Forests catch and store water, stabilize soils, harbour biodiversity and make an important contribution to regulating climate and the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. This year`s International Day for Biological Diversity is devoted to highlighting the need for urgent action,” he stated.
The United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, acclaimed actor and conservationist Edward Norton, for his part, warned that humanity is wreaking havoc with Earth`s capacity to sustain life through destructive exploitation of natural resources and decimation of the planet`s biodiversity.
“We are disrupting the natural systems of our planet in ways that will cause havoc for our way of life,” Norton told UN News Centre in an interview marking the IDB 2011.
Prof. Emil Salim, former environmental affairs minister, said in Jakarta, last March 2011, Indonesia`s biodiversity can be the nation`s strength in facing global competition with developed countries.
“We have entered the 21st century witnessing the rise of countries such as China, India and Korea. In this competition Indonesia has the advantage of a rich biodiversity which the other countries don`t have,” Emil said after a meeting on Indonesia`s preparations for the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol.
Indonesia, he noted, was a country with the second richest biodiversity in the world after Brazil and geographically located between two continents and with two seasons a year – factors that had made it rich in land and marine natural resources.
The government, in fact, has drafted a Bill on Genetic Resources Management since 2002, but it has not been adopted into a law.
Senior Diplomat Makarim Wibisono said in Jakarta, last March, Indonesia was among the first to sign and ratify the Nagoya Protocol because Indonesia is among countries which are striving for the adoption of the access and benefit sharing principle.
“In the past, a country`s sovereignty only covers land, water and air, but now biodiversity is also included in the sovereignty concept,” Makarim stated.