Heath forests cover only a small part of the project area (around 2%). They grow on a type of soil that is covered by peat or thin humus layers that can easily be lost when vegetation is removed. This type of ecosystem typically contains shorter and smaller trees compare to mixed swamp forest in the concession area. In Katingan, heath forests are exposed to illegal mining, which causes river pollution, siltation, deforestation, and generally significantly degrades land.
Despite severe forest damage in parts of this area because of gold mining, forest conditions remain relatively good and similar to those in other parts of the concession. However, in areas near the Klaru watershed, people have confirmed that water quality has deteriorated and that fish catches have significantly declined in recent years.
Even though the risk of mercury and the illegality of gold mining are widely acknowledge by local communities as well as government officials, this activity still thrives and the number of people who are engaged in it are increasing considerably. Adding to the problems, across the Klaru River there is a plan for an oil palm plantation to expand. Without careful planning, this expansion could degrade water quality and threaten wildlife habitats along the river banks.
Kajang Pamali River
This water course is the main route for local communities in Gelinggang, and along with the smaller tributaries in the peat swamp forest it also represents their main source of fish. The river is their gateway to the forest, where they source gemor, jelutung (a latex producing tree), honey and medicinal plants.
Perigi is a fairly small village of about 400 inhabitants. Economic opportunities are few, and many people have already left to find work elsewhere. For those who have remained, the only sources of income are from fishing, and planting rice and vegetables. The most common tree species is mangkinang—possibly the main food for orangutans here—and rattan and lianas thrive. But illegal logging has already scarred the area, with many bare spaces in the forest and few large trees remaining. Close to the village, the forest along the river banks has suffered from severe fire damage.
In 2004, the Mentaya and Katingan rivers were joined by a canal. Since, the forest area on both sides has thinned down as the canal has made it easier for people to access the area. With increased ecosystem degradation and human activity, forest fires are now more common. Recently, people have begun to stake their claim on both sides of the canal, including by planting rubber trees.
Hantipan is a small village of 100-200 families, comprised of indigenous Dayak and recent immigrants. Most people make a living from fishing, while some plant rubber and fruits. As with other places around the Katingan Project concession, the area suffers from logging, with several areas already denuded.
In 2008, Katingan Project scientists ran a 28-km transect across the peat forest. This first major expedition in the area aimed to record the depth of the peat (which tells us how much carbon is stored) and information on “above ground” biomass—the total mass of organisms in a given area. Peat swamp forests store massive amounts of carbon; “below ground” carbon stocks can constitute up to 20 times the amount of “above ground” carbon stored in trees and vegetation.
The condition of the forest in this area is encouraging, comparable to nearby Sebangau National Park. The first 2-3 km of the river are lined by mangroves, while further up there is plenty of Pandanus (screw pine), followed by a large open area where the forest has been charred. A band of 500 m, consisting of rice fields and a few camps, runs on the banks of either side of the river before the forest begins. In the dry season, the river channel is burnt to clear Pandanus; sometimes the fires get out of control and extend beyond the river banks.
Get News from Us
Stay updated with what is happening with the Katingan Project by signing up to our occasional email updates.
Lt. 45, Menara BCA Grand Indonesia
Jl. M.H. Thamrin No. 1
Jakarta 10310, Indonesia
Tel: +62 21 235 84777
Fax: +62 21 235 84401