January 10, 2023
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said more wildlife crossings would be constructed across the archipelago in order to reduce infrastructure-development disruption to wildlife conservation and protected species.
“Infrastructure development in the Motherland [Indonesia] must be mindful of environmental sustainability and ensure wildlife conservation,” Jokowi said during a visit at wildlife crossings over the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road in Riau on Thursday.
“Elephants are visible, walking under the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road this morning. I am on the kilometer-12 section of the toll road where there is a tunnel for elephants to cross. There are six of these crossings along the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road,” Jokowi said on his Twitter account.
The 131-kilometer toll road started construction in July 2017 and was inaugurated by the President on Sept. 25, 2020. It is part of the Trans Sumatra highway network.
He said the wildlife crossings were constructed as the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road crossed through Sumatran elephant habitat located across two cities and two regencies where about 76 Sumatran elephants lived.
The Sumatran elephant is one of 25 species under threat of extinction listed in the Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation Director General’s Decree No. 180/2015. The species is also protected under the Environment and Forestry Ministry Regulation No. 106/2018.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Sumatran elephant as “critically endangered” on its Red List since 2011.
Over the last 25 years, the Sumatran elephant has lost more than 70 percent of both its habitat and population. At the current rate of tropical forest destruction, some have predicted that the species will be extinct in the jungles of Sumatra by 2030.
In addition to the wildlife crossings at the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road, the Sigli-Banda Aceh toll road also has such crossings that include a bridge structure for elephants, a precast concrete crossing for reptilians and a cable canopy bridge for primates.
Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in a statement on Saturday that sustainable development by synchronizing infrastructure developments with conservation efforts like wildlife crossings was a response to concerns that massive infrastructure developments could disrupt the ecosystem and the flora and fauna.
She also pointed out that the ministry had issued a 2019 Ministerial Regulation on Strategic Roads in Forest Areas to regulate the negative impacts of infrastructure developments in forested areas.
The minister added that infrastructure projects, such as road building at the Betung Kerihun National Park, Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park, Gunung Leuser National Park as well as green infrastructures on World Heritage Sites in Sumatra and Trans Sumatra, toll roads had been built in adherence to the 2019 Ministerial Regulation to ensure wildlife conservation.