Rabu, 24 Februari 2010

Nepenthes Conservation Progress in Indonesia

Open letter.

First of all, I have to describe in general the situation before 2009, i.e. the phase before we started establishing the community as a hobby organization dedicated to nature conservation.

1. If the term "conservation" means "not taking any part of the plant", then I guess most of us are poachers, because most of us have taken at least some part of the plant from the nature at some point in life, but that’s the reality.

There is a big awareness gap occurs among the community members, in terms of Nepenthes conservation. Loosely speaking, at least there are three types of our members; those who are aware, those who are careful and those who are careless. The "aware type" take nothing from the nature and undertake active measures to protect and conserve Nepenthes habitats. The "careful type" take some part of the plants by minimizing the damage, think and act on conservation of Nepenthes to a certain degree. While the "careless type" do not think and/or act at all on conservation. In this phase of development, there were about 20 people listed as members of very loosely-tied, simple organization. Assuming that this number was about 1/5 of the total number of collectors, the real number could rise to around 100 people. Given that number, the composition of members based on the awareness type is: “aware” (0 people), "careful" (20 people), and "careless" (the rest of the members).

3. Under such circumstances, those 20 people have achieved significant progress including: (a) exploration to Nepenthes habitats, individually or together with international research groups; (b) propagating Nepenthes and legally trading them (importing from BE, MT, EP etc.; selling seed/cutting propagated plants). The trade of cultivated Nepenthes plants is necessary as a mean to promote cultivation of Nepenthes as a new plant with potential ornamental and business values in Indonesia, thus increasing public awareness and at the same time balancing/decreasing illegal trade on Nepenthes, considering that there is only one nursery specializing in carnivorous plants in Indonesia so far; (c) early efforts to propagate Nepenthes from tissue-culture (TC), unfortunately due to lack of financial ability and the only TC labs available are commercially-oriented ones, the progress has been slow. We have tried propagating N. clipeata from TC, but the attempt was unsuccessful because the lab used was much less than ideal; (d) sending seeds/plants to reputable international growers in order to cultivate them, as an anticipation of the high risk of extinction faced by Nepenthes plants in the wild; (e) publishing book(s) to promote Nepenthes cultivation and its proper care.

2009 Development

1. In the end of 2008, we started activating the community, designing better community-based organization. In January 2009, we had all organization functions needed. There were department of business and funding, education and campaign, exploration and conservation, research and development. The organization was financially run by annual membership fees and small percentage of commission of buy and sell items or auction items placed by members in our on-line forum.

2. In the beginning of 2009, conservationally speaking, our focus was to collect funds to establish our own TC lab independently and to consolidate our members. We need a TC lab because the price of wild plants are so cheap as compared to imported TC plants. If TC plant vendors can offer less price then the problem will be less complicated. Besides, even when TC plants are available as in the case of N. clipeata of Wistuba, the access to the plants can be difficult due to constant high demand and limited stocks, not to mention the customs problems. In this case, scarcity becomes the trigger.

3. Consolidating the members is also important, as we fully realize that the members are the subjects and at the same time the objects of the lack of comprehensive conservation system. I can call them "victims" because mostly they don’t have any other choices. Today, some of the "aware type" members purchase wild collected plants because they understand the unique nature of the plants and get worried if the plants "fall" to the wrong people and die out in the wild. It is tragic but that’s the only choice.

4. Attempts to consolidate the members are not easy. Some of them are apathetic, or even pessimistic. The other factor is that many Nepenthes enthusiasts are hardly detected because they’re not used to going on-line in the forum. Besides, not everyone who is on-line is willing to join the group as a member, for unknown reason.

5. Besides dreaming about TC Lab, we were also working on ecotourism as a solution. The only obstacle, limited activity (only 1 of our members works by dedicating himself fully to the conservation of Nepenthes, the others are just part-timers since they work in various fields of work that are far from Nepenthes), made our concentration less focused.

6. In the end of 2009, we started seeking possible cooperation with Cibodas Botanical Garden (KR Cibodas), West Java, to establish a comprehensive Nepenthes garden in their area. In this garden we plan to build a greenhouse for highland to intermediate Nepenthes, develop TC plants (since they have a TC Lab) and design ecotourism programs to N. gymnamphora habitat.

7. During our gathering at KR Cibodas in November 2009, in which Ch’ien Lee joined us to share his experiences on ecotourism, finally we confirmed that cooperation. But there was still a problem: our organization had not been listed as a legal organization. So we started to register our organization legally.

2010 Development

1. Now we have the legality status as a hobby organization based on conservation that has the legal rights to engage in business activities. The legal rights to do business are necessary for us because we want to hold import and export permits. Therefore, we can push our members to become more active in doing the cultivation.

2. As for the progress of Nepenthes Garden at KR Cibodas, at this moment we are entering MOU phase and are speeding up to find donations and/or local sponsors. So far there have been no funds obtained yet. Approximately we will need a total amount of 15,000 USD, while the amount we currently have is about 1,000 USD. We target the building to establish by the end of 2010.

3. The other conservation issue that we are working on, is finding data and building communication with local nurseries (we deliberately avoid the term "poacher" because we don’t want them to stand against us) and slowly, we have been trying to ask them to join us and persuade them to help us with our ecotourism business plan.

4. Some ecotourism programs that we are planning and doing are: (a) West Java (N. gymnamphora and Green House at KR Cibodas), (b) Central Java (N. gymnamphora and N. adrianii), (c) West Sumatra ( 8 species) and (d) Mt. Kelam, West Kalimantan (N. clipeata). For program in West Java, we have found ideal partner (KR Cibodas). For program in Central Java and West Sumatra, we are still building communications and trying to convince some parties. For West Kalimantan Barat, especially N. clipeata, we are still collecting information and finding the best ways.

5. Since 2009, we also started selecting unique and attractive Nepenthes individuals from our members’ collections to be cultivated and traded in the future.

What we need from international communities:

1. If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions about conservation in Indonesia, please let us know by visiting and participating in our discussion forum (FTB) at http://tanamanbuas.proboards.com or email me at sofyandavid@telkom.net.id. The FTB discussion forum is mostly in Indonesian but most members understand english as well.

2. We would greatly appreciate any supports, including financial support, knowledge and/or expertise, seeds, plants etc. In our Cibodas Botanical Garden project, We welcome you to donate your plants to Cibodas Botanical Garden, West Java, and we will mark the plant with your name as a reminder for your contribution. Please contact me at sofyandavid@telkom.net.id to find out how to donate.

3. It might be a good idea for you, as an individual or on behalf or your organization, to send a letter to our government expressing concern over Nepenthes habitat destructions in Indonesia. If it is possible for you to do that, we can prepare the necessary data and arrange the draft of the letter for you.

4. As you already know, we are persuading local nurseries to do business migration from selling wild-sourced nepenthes to ecotourism business, but some of us are worried if the business may turn out to be not as easy or as good as expected and they may turn back to their previous poaching activities. So, if you think you have any experience, we will greatly appreciate your sharing of experience in ecotourism business (obstacles, solutions etc).

For the time being, these are the conditions of Nepenthes conservation efforts in Indonesia.

Sofyan David S.
International Relationships, KTKI
(Indonesia Carnivorous Plant Community)

 M.A. Suska, the President of KTKI

 Ch'ien Lee, giving presentation at 2009 KTKI Gathering

Ch'ien Lee's Presentation

KTKI team and staffs of Cibodas Botanical Garden were having discussions on preparations of  the future building of the Nepenthes Garden.


The location dedicated for Nepenthes Garden. The exact location is next to the green building, where the team is standing.

  On Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding for the Establishment of Nepenthes House (Wahana Nepenthes) at Cibodas Botanical Garden has been signed between KTKI (represented by John Muhamad Rasuly Suaidy as the Operational Head of KTKI) and the management of Cibodas BG (represented by Dr. Didik Widyatmoko, M.Sc as the Head of Cibodas BG).

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