Indonesia pushes ahead with Rinca Island project despite UNESCO objection

Indonesia will proceed with the infrastructure development on Rinca Island, one of the three major islands that make up the Komodo National Park, despite UNESCO urging the government to halt the project due to the potential impact on the park’s outstanding universal value (OUV).

At the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) last July, UNESCO urged the government to suspend all tourism infrastructure projects in and around the national park, especially those with the potential to affect the park’s OUV.

Indonesia claims that the Rinca Island development project will not endanger the Komodo dragon population

It also requested the government to submit a revised environmental impact analysis (EIA), along with details of its plan on how to safeguard the park’s OUV, for review by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Wiratno, director general of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation (KSDAE) of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (LHK), said that the government has ensured that the development on Rinca Island would not have a negative impact on the ecosystem and the ongoing conservation efforts, and thus, would continue the project.

He said the project located at Loh Buaya Valley would cover only an area spanning 1.3ha of a total 198km² that makes up Rinca Island, and that the construction is to replace facilities to meet international standards.

The new design is intended to limit tourists’ direct interaction with the wildlife, minimising animal disturbance and ensuring quality ecotourism activity. “This model will make it easier for us to control the number and concentration of visitors, as well as their behaviour,” Wiratno added.

As such, Wiratno claimed that the development would not cause or result in a negative impact on the park’s OUV.

He also pointed out that the construction site is only home to 13 out of the 60 Komodo dragons that reside in the Loh Buaya Valley. “The total population of Komodo dragons in the Komodo National Park is 3,100 and they are not only found on Rinca Island,” he added.

He said the environmental experts and members of other related agencies conducting the EIA were continuously adjusting the guidelines in accordance to the regulations set by the IUCN.

“New assessments are being prepared and we expect to submit the EIA in September so that they can be reviewed by the IUCN and the WHC before the 45th WHC session in 2022,” Wiratno shared.

Elsewhere, the development of Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the Komodo National Park and one of the five super priority development destinations, also follow the quality and sustainable tourism development principles, according to Sandiaga Uno, minister of tourism and creative economy.

Part of that effort will include an analysis on demand and supply of the Labuan Bajo development in the Integrated Tourism Master Plan (ITMP) for Labuan Bajo in the making.

Sandiaga said: “In the ITMP, we will set a projection on the number of tourists in accordance with the carrying capacity, travel paths and integrated development strategies.”

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