Mountain climbing has now become a popular activity among young people. Some even consider it a healthy lifestyle by promoting back to nature movement. However, did you know that almost all of the mountains in Indonesia are conservation areas that are protected by laws and regulations? Why is that?
One of the answers is because the function of the mountain is very important to support the ecosystem and life around it. About a quarter of the total land available on earth is in the form of mountains and mountain ranges. About a quarter of the wild plants and animals on earth are also found in mountains and mountain ranges. From the mountains, we can also find about 70% of the world’s fresh water reserves that come from springs that will flow into rivers. Most of the mountains are covered by dense forests that function as oxygen producers, prevent landslides, filter groundwater, biodiversity resources, and become carbon sinks.
In 2002, the United Nations established 11th of December as an international mountain day. Actually the idea of the importance of mountains and their conservation began since the Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment & Development held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the 3rd-14th June 1992, which in Chapter 13 underlines the importance of sustainable management of mountain ecosystems.
Status of Mountain Areas in Indonesia
Mountains in Indonesia are included in conservation areas. According to Law No. 5 of 1990 concerning Conservation of Biological Natural Resources and their Ecosystems (UU KSDAE), the conservation area is divided into two major parts, namely the Nature Reserve Areas consisting of Nature Reserves and Wildlife Reserves, and the Nature Conservation Area which consists of National Parks, Forest Parks, and Nature Parks. Explanations for each area’s status are as follows:
|Nature Reserve Areas||(1) Nature Reserves||Areas with natural conditions that have specific plant, animal, and ecosystem characteristics that need to be protected and their development takes place naturally|
|(2) Wildlife Reserves||Areas with diverse and/or unique characteristics on the types of animals for which survival can be carried out a development for their habitat|
|Nature Conservation Areas||(3) National Parks||Conservation areas with native ecosystems and managed by zoning systems that are utilised for research, science, education, supporting cultivation, tourism and recreation.|
|(4) Forest Parks||Areas for the purpose of collection of plants and/or animals either natural or artificial, native or non-native, which are used for research, science, education, supporting cultivation, tourism and recreation.|
|(5) Nature Parks||Areas that are used for tourism and nature recreation.|
Most of the mountains that are popularly climbed in Indonesia have the status of National Parks. For example Gede-Pangrango National Park, Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, and Merapi National Park. However, within the same region there can also be differences in regional status. For example in Mount Papandayan, some of which have the status of being a Nature Tourism Park and partly as a Nature Reserve. Nonetheless, some time ago the status of the Papandayan Mountain Nature Reserve that was determined through the Minister of Forestry Decree No. 25 of 2018 then was revoked and lowered into a Nature Park in its entirety.
The higher the status of the area as shown by the ranking number in the table above, the more protected the area is as much as possible in accordance with its natural conditions without or with very minimal human intervention.
Sanctions for Mountain Destroyers
Because the mountain is a conservation area that must be preserved, all actions that can cause damage are certainly prohibited and can be given strict sanctions. Some of these actions include:
- Picking out protected plants
Many climbers do not know that Javanese Edelweiss (Alphanis javanica), which is often found in various mountains in Indonesia, is included in the category of protected plants as listed in the Appendix of the Minister of Environment Regulation No. 20 of 2018 jo. Ministry of Environment Regulation No. 92 of 2018 concerning Types of Plants and Animals Protected. Thus the flowers should not be picked randomly. Acts against protected plant species, which are not intended for conservation, can be criminalised under Article 21 paragraph (1) as well as Article 40 paragraph (2) of the KSDAE Law with a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of 100 million rupiah.
- Hunting or bringing home protected wildlife
Besides plants, there are often animals on the mountain, from boars, monkeys, tigers, to rare birds such as eagles. Hunting these animals is also rife, with the motives ranging from solely having fun to wildlife trade. Animals in conservation areas are also protected by laws and regulations. Acts against protected species, which are not intended for conservation, can also be criminalised under Article 21 paragraph (2) and Article 40 paragraph (2) of the KSDAE Law with a maximum criminal threat of 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of 100 million rupiah.
- Causing forest fires on the mountain
Mountain climbing activities are incomplete if it is not accompanied by camping activities and making campfires. However, it should be noted that some managers of the National Park on the mountain imposed a ban on building campfires because it was feared it could cause forest and land fires. Aside from the campfire, fires can also be triggered by cigarette butts which are thrown away, especially during dry weather. For those who deliberately or neglected to cause forest fires in the mountains, can be convicted based on Article 50 paragraph (3) letter d jo. Article 78 paragraphs (3) and (4) of the Forestry Law with a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of 5 billion rupiah.
In addition to the sanctions stipulated in national legislation, there are also sanctions for other destructive actions such as vandalism to littering which can be imposed based on the Regional Regulation or the Regulation of the National Park Manager. The sanctions that can be given are quite diverse, from the educational nature such as orders to eradicate acts of vandalism and cleaning up trash, sanctions in the form of fines, detention of self-identification cards, to the most severe sanction which is prohibition of climbing mountains (blacklisted) for life for climbers who commit violations.
It is undeniable that the recreation activities carried out on the mountain are very pleasant. However, we also cannot close our eyes to the importance of the function of mountains in supporting life, not only humans, but also the plants and animals that are in them. Through this international mountain day commemoration, let’s always maintain the preservation of the mountain with full responsibility. (Adri)