National Park Sumba

Sumba Island, located in the southern part of EastNusa Tenggara, about 100 kilometers south of Flores Island, is 250 kilometers long with a total area of 10,845 square kilometers.

It is formed from volcanic crust fragments and limestone. The geological formation of Sumba is different from other islands in Nusa Tenggara, which originally derived from volcanic rock. The dry season in Sumba occurs between May and November.

The annual rainfall is estimated between 500 millimeters and 2,000 millimeters. Sumba has four types of forest (Banilodu and Saka, 1993). The deciduous forest is found along the rivers and lowland areas, while the semi-evergreen forests grow in the hilly areas, where the humidity is lower. The true evergreen forest is in area with higher humidity, about 700meters above sea level. Another type, the elfin forest, is found on Mount Wanggameti at 1,050 meters to 1200 meters above sea level.

Now, only 11 percent of Sumba Island is covered with forest, mostly in the south. The forest is home to a great variety of fauna, much of which isendemic to Sumba………….

Sumba is known to have nine species and 21 subspecies of birds endemic tothe area. We can see julang Sumba (Rhyticeros everetti), pungguk wenggi (Ninox rudolfi), punai Sumba (Treron teysmannii), walik rawamanu (Ptilinopus dohertyi) and gemak Sumba (Turnix everetti), along with seven butterfly, four reptile and two amphibian species. Sumba people do not seem to realize they are rich in flora and fauna. Unfortunately, destruction of the forests continues.

Studies conducted by the local Agency for Conservation of Natural Resources (PHPA), BirdLife International-Indonesia Program, Nusa Cendana University, Kupang Widya Mandira Catholic University, and the Manchester Metropolitan University expedition have concluded that eight forest areas in Sumba Island need conservation efforts if they are to survive.

The forests are Yawila, Poronumbu, Manupeu, Langgaliru, Wanggameti-Tabundung, Tanjung Ngunju, Lulundilu and Luko Meldo. However, a 1998 government decree had only accredited to areas as national parks: the Manupeu-Tanadaru and Wanggameti-Langgaliru national parks. Both of them have the largest unseparated forest areas in Sumba, each having unique biodiversity. They also serve as water catchment areas for local communities.

Wanggameti-Langgaliru lies in East Sumba regency with a total area of 42,567 hectares. Only about 27,895 hectares of this has forest cover. The region has a complete ecosystem, which is amazing in a dry region like NusaTenggara.

Mount Wanggameti is the highest point on Sumba Island. It represents all types of forest found on Sumba, including elfin forest, which is rare. The forest is home to 77 bird species, including Walik Rawamanu (Ptilinopus dohertyi) and Walet Sarang-putih (Aerodramus fuciphagus) two of six endemicbirds.

The studies also identified 43 butterfly species, three of those being endemic to Nusa Tenggara. Vegetation has a large variety of structure and composition.

Approximately 70 plant species are found in this area. For locals, the forest is the main source for food, firewood, medicine the raw materials for the famed tenun ikat cloth, traditional arts and ceremonies.

National Park Manupeu-Tanadaru lies in East and West Sumba regions, Lewa District, Katiku Tana, Walaka and Loli, Langgaliru village, Watumbelar, Kangeli, Konda Maloba, Umamanu, Matayangu and Katiku Laku.

The total area is 28,429 hectares. Langgaliru is part of Praimamonguditasforest block. Most of Manupeu is hilly and steep, and ranges from sea levelto 600 meters above sea level. Wet evergreen forest is found in Mount Manupeu. The geological base is formed of Neogene and Paleogene limestone and some areas of volcanic rock.

Although it has a very dry climate, we can found the biggest population of Rangkong Sumba (Rhyticeros everetti) there, one of the Sumba endemic birds.

The sulfur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata) and yellow-crested cockatoo are common.

Biodiversity in this area is high, according to research conducted by Banilodu and Saka in 1993. It lists 62 types of plants in the Langgaliru area and 54 types in Manupeu.

There are 76 bird species, five of those endemic to Sumba (Jones et. al, 1994), such as cempaka cockatoo, julang Sumba, and punai Sumba. There are also 57 butterfly species.

The region has beautiful views of waterfalls, beaches and traditional culture invaluable for tourism industry development. The forest area plays an important role in the local people’s daily lives.

The biggest problem facing the Sumba forest is fire. Many people practicethe slash and burn technique to open up land for farming, and this is difficult to control.

The Sumba community needs information on the importance of preserving forests. This is particularly important for those living in the surroundingarea. It is clear that Sumba’s forests have a social and economic importance to the community. They are interdependent.

Several studies have been conducted in Sumba by different institutions concerned with conservation and development of the forests.

In our opinion, the Manupeu-Tanadaru and Wanggameti-Langgaliru should be protected and given the status of national parks. Core zones would not be disturbed because the locals’ needs for wood, the base material for ikat woven cloth dye, and other daily needs will be taken from the production zones.

The community in the vicinity of the forests should have a sound understanding of the plans and be involved in the development process. Their philosophy and traditional knowledge about forest management should be taken into account and they should retain their basic rights and responsibilities.

Involvement of the indigenous people will support the efforts to develop the conservation management system. When the community can take an active role to protect and use the forest resources thoughtfully, the efforts willlikely be successful.

Sumba Island needs a national park to conserve its unique biodiversity, which is invaluable to Indonesia.