Activists seek protection for Indonesia’s karst amid building boom pressure

Activists seek protection for Indonesia’s karst amid building boom pressure

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — Activists in Indonesia have called for the government to issue a new regulation aimed at better protecting the country’s karsts, the unique rocky landscapes that are home to species found nowhere else on Earth. The current regulation governing the management of this limestone topography dates from 2012, issued by the ministry for mines and energy, which frames karst preservation in terms of its geological importance rather than its role as an ecosystem supporting a diverse range of animal and plant life. “We need a regulation with a special agency that oversees the function, exploitation and protection of karst ecosystems,” said Wahyu Perdana, campaign manager for food, water and essential ecosystems at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), at a public discussion last month. Mining activities in a karst area in Rembang, Central Java. Photo by Tommy Apriando/Mongabay-Indonesia. Petrasa Wacana, coordinator for conservation, advocacy and campaign at the Indonesian Speleology Community (MSI), called for a government regulation — which would supersede the ministerial one — that would more holistically govern the management of karst ecosystems, including allowing better conservation efforts and imposing stricter punishment for damage to or destruction of these landscapes. A draft government regulation, known as an RPP, has been in the works since 2010, but opposition from the ministry of mines and the cement industry — which has long eyed the mineral deposits that make up the karst — has prevented it from being issued, according to Petrasa. “If the government continues to be…

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