The lack of awareness of conservation threats and consequences of forest destruction present throughout most levels of the Indonesian population leads to lack of public outcry concerning the destruction of natural resources in Indonesia. The forests in Kalimantan are one of the main strongholds for sun bears and other highly endangered wildlife but their habitat is disappearing at a rapid pace. Primarily due to this habitat destruction, sun bears and other wildlife species are coming into more frequent conflict with humans. At present there is no environmental education facility in (East) Kalimantan, which local people from all levels of the population (adults, children, government officials and farmers) could visit in order to learn more about forest functions and consequences of forest loss, and associated wildlife and biodiversity.
Our main goal is to provide a venue for all levels of society to learn about the importance of ecosystem functions, and to start appreciating the wealth of biodiversity in Indonesia (Kalimantan in particular). With a more educated and knowledgeable society, there might be a hope to conserve some of the beautiful ecosystems and wildlife in Indonesia.
Four large education exhibits are planned or under construction. These will compromise of semi-open structures with a variety of informational displays in the form of interactive displays, statues, printed material (photos, text, etc.) and paintings. Exhibits are specially designed to appeal to the Indonesian public. All texts will be bi-lingual (Indonesian and English).
The newly opened sun bear education exhibit features information about the sun bears’ physical characteristics, ecology, conservation & research, and human-bear interactions. Visitors can learn in playful interactive ways about the fascinating characteristics of sun bears, learn how radio waves are used to track sun bears in the wild, and what they can do to assist sun bear conservation.
The first gazebo introduces visitors to the diversity of the bear family with life size paintings of each bear species set against a 2m x 4m background of the bear’s habitat and fronted by species specific information panels.
Various interactive exhibits show visitors in a playful way the ins-and-outs of being a sun bear.
Our thanks to NASJ, Alertis, Free the Bears, IOS Press, the Dutch Foundation Zoos Help, Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (Disney Fund) and Defenders of Wildlife for their contributions to our Sun bear education exhibit.
The forest function/ecosystem gazebo will focus on the rich variety of ecosystems to be found on Borneo, ranging from mangrove forests, peat swamps to the higher montane areas. The important functions these forests fulfill as water catchment areas, nurseries for fisheries, and their rich varied biodiversity will be highlighted topics. The Sungai Wain Protection Forest, which has provided the Balikpapan oil industry with water for oil refineries for nearly 60 years, will be presented as a case study. The economic value of the clean water supplied by a forest is quite remarkable (in the case of Sungai Wain with its 10,000 hectares the estimated value is close to $6 million US annually).
This information gazebo will focus on the large number of endemic mammals (like the proboscis monkey, the Bornean orangutan), birds (like the Bornean ground cuckoo or peacock pheasant), fish, and plants of the island.
This information gazebo will stress the main threats to the ecosystems in Kalimantan. Forest fires will receive special attention as this man-made disaster that is currently recurring on an annual basis has devastated enormous areas of forest over the last two decades. In 1997-’98 some 10 million ha of forest were affected in Indonesian Borneo alone. Other threats to forest ecosystems like plantation development, unsustainable logging, and large scale mining will be discussed.