Wise people say humans must protect biodiversity as a legacy from the past, because later, when we understand, it will benefit life.
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In the Indonesian context, unfortunately, wisdom is just merely words and rarely used as consideration in managing natural resources, especially biodiversity. The latest example is the threat of massive deforestation on the Wallacea Islands, mainly due to mining, plantation and agricultural activities.
In an event organized by the Institute for Sustainable Earth and Resources at the University of Indonesia (ISER-UI) in collaboration with various international and national science institutions, the latest studies and reports regarding the Wallacea Islands raised concern of all the participants.
Wallacea Islands consist of a number of islands including Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and North Maluku. The name Wallacea cannot be separated from Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), a naturalist and biologist.
Wallace's explorations in the jungles of the Amazone and Rio Negro rivers were told in the book Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, published in 1853. Subsequently, during 1854-1862 he visited Malaysia and Indonesia, which were described in his book The Malay Archipelago (1859). This trip was important because Wallace's letter from Ternate inspired Charles Darwin to come up with the theory of evolution.
Wallace's legacy is the theoretical line of zoology known as the Wallacea Line. This virtual line stretches from north to south between the islands of Kalimantan (Borneo) and Sulawesi. The area on the east side of the virtual line is called the Wallacea Islands with a specific species, different from the west of the line.
Now, the government's policy to develop the eastern Indonesian region could become an ecological disaster if not managed carefully. It does not mean that activities that can promote the economy are not allowed, because of course we should be grateful to the government for trying to advance the people of eastern Indonesia. They have been neglected for almost the entire age of Indonesia's independence. However, it is more about how the government creates a sustainable economic program so that this extraordinary natural heritage will not be destroyed.
Do not let haste destroy the extraordinary natural wealth that belongs to our children and grandchildren.
Is it appropriate, for example, to develop plantation and agricultural areas, which have the potential to be monocultures, in the Wallacea Islands? Will massive nickel mining continue to be allowed in the name of the economy? Could the government create a blueprint for development based on a green economy, which not only accommodates the economic potential but also local wisdom?
All of these questions should certainly apply in developing the entire territory of Indonesia. Moreover, Indonesia is one of the countries with the greatest wealth of biodiversity in the world. Therefore, the aspiration to prosper the Indonesian people needs to be based on studies that have been carried out by many experts. Do not let haste destroy the extraordinary natural wealth that belongs to our children and grandchildren.