Wehea Protection Forest, Home of Orangutan and Borneo’s Wildlife

The deforestation rate in Borneo is going to a critical level. According to a data published by the Forestry Agency, the deforestation in Borneo between 2000-2005 tops 1,23 million hectares. This means that every day, around 673 hectares of forest disappeared during that period.

Currently, only 40,8 million hectares of Borneo's forest remains; but other sources mention that there is only 20,5 million hectares left. Land conversion into palm oil plantation, Forest Concession (Hak Pengusahaan Hutan/HPH), industial plants, and mining activities are among the major triggers of the loss.

In spite of of the threats, there is a natural forest which is still in a good condition. Located in East Borneo, 450 kilometers away from the provincial capital of Samarinda, lies the Wehea protection forest. Administratively, the forest is situated in the bounds of Muara Wahau district, Kutai Timur regency.

Wehea protection forest encompasses an area of 38.000 hectares, 250 m above sea level on the eastern part up to 1750 m above sea level on the western part. The vegetation type varied from lowland forest up to montane forest. This forest plays important hydrological role because it also holds the watersheds of the Wehea river in Kutai Timur regency and Long Gi river in Berau regency.

orangutan di hutan lindung WeheaReferring to a research conducted by The Nature Conservancy, Wehea protection forest is inhabited by 19 mammals species, 114 birds species, 12 rodents species, 9 primates speceis, and 59 invaluable types of plants. One of the best thing about this forest is its importance for the lives of the Bornean Orangutans. The Head of Environmen Agency of Kutai Timur regency, Didi Suryadi, in 2012 stated to the press that there are approximately 750 individuals of orangutans whose lives depends very much on the sustainability of Wehea forest..

Indigenous Forest Management

Wehea protection forest was previously a land exploited by the concession of PT Gruti III. In 1995, it merged with PT Inhutani II and changed the name into PT Loka Dwihutani. In 2003, the concession was evaluated by the provincial government of East Borneo, resulting in a "good" status.

In 2005, through the Decree of the regents of East Kutai No. 44/02.188.45/HK/II/2005, Board for the Management of Wehea Protection Forest (Badan Pengelola Hutan Lindung Wehea/BP-HULIWA) was established. The board consists of the government agencies, indigenous people, educational institutions, and NGOs. Through BP-HULIWA, the government of Kutai Timur also alocated special fund for the management system of the forest.

hutan lindung weheaAt the field level, Wehea protection forest in managed by the customary institution of Dayak Wehea. As a manifestation of their high concern for the conservation of their forest, the people formed a local ranger team called the 'Petkuq Mehuey' (PM), whose member are the young men of the tribe. Every day the men take turns to secure the forest.

The awareness of these people of Dayah Wehea tribe received a high regard from the national government. This is proven by the Kalpataru award (an award presented by the government to organizations or individuals as an acknowledgement for their achievement in environmental activities) achieved by the customary institution of Dayak Wehea Nehas Liah Bing in 2009. The award presented directly by president of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has uplifted the existence of the Wehea protection forest.

In May 2014, a team from Protection of Forest and Fauna (PROFAUNA) visited the Wehea people and had an intense discussion with the customary institution of Dayak Wehea Nehas Liah Bing. The chief of the Nehas Liah Bing village, Ledjie Taq, held a traditional ceremony to welcome PROFAUNA's team. By this ceremony then, the people of Dayak Wehea regards PROFAUNA as part of their family.

During the occasion, the secretary of the village, Siang Geah, said "We are very glad to have PROFAUNA in Wehea and hope that we could establish a positive partnership in protecting our dwindling forets."

More photos: http://www.profauna.net/id/content/galeri-foto-hutan-lindung-wehea


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ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
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