Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) has ordered a temporary closure of 56 national parks and conservation sites nationwide, in a bid to further curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Affected sites include popular national parks such as Bromo Tengger Semeru and Mount Ijen in East Java, Tanjung Putting in Central Kalimantan, Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta, and Komodo in East Nusa Tenggara.
Wiratno, director general of Natural Resources Conservation and Ecosystems, said in a press statement that more protected sites may be added to the list. Furthermore, all cruise ships have been banned from entering Komodo National Park, Wiratno added.
Activities surrounding wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release of animals will still be carried out amid the closure, depending on the on-ground situation, according to park authorities.
Tour and travel agents, meanwhile, have welcomed the shutdown order, saying it will not only stem the virus spread, but give time for the conservation zones to rest, and provide an opportunity for park operators to repair and maintain facilities in those areas.
Abed Frans, owner of Flobamor Tours, shared that KLHK’s initiative was a “timely and wise” decision. “Although there is no valid research on animal transmission, we must take precautionary measures,” he said.
Monas Tjahjono, managing director of Monas Tours and Travel, expressed hopes that the park authorities will use the closure period to improve the areas’ sanitation facilities, such as toilets and wash basins, as travellers will be more hygiene-conscious post-pandemic.
Additionally, Monas proposed that medical personnel be assigned to clinics or surveillance posts around the parks, to bolster tourists’ sense of security when the parks reopen.
Meanwhile, Donny, owner of Adonta Global Trip, urged the park operators to consider virtual tours and live streaming of the national parks to allow people to continue exploring those sites during the closure, which will also help raise exposure for the attractions.