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IKN Development is Committed to Forming Harmony between Humans and Nature

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By: Kila Diajeng )*


In 2019, the government announced a monumental plan to move the country’s capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan. This project, known as the Indonesian Capital City (IKN) development project, is not only a physical transfer, but also a major effort to build a modern, sustainable government center that still respects and preserves the abundant natural diversity in the East Kalimantan region.

With Jakarta’s rapid economic growth and increasingly serious problems, including traffic jams, flooding and land subsidence, the Indonesian government has long considered moving the capital as a solution. In August 2019, President Joko Widodo officially announced this ambitious plan, choosing part of East Kalimantan as the new location for the capital.

One of the key points of this project is maintaining environmental sustainability. The government has made a commitment to ensure that the development of the Indonesian Capital City not only takes into account economic and social aspects, but also respects and preserves the biodiversity and natural environment of East Kalimantan.

The development of this city is planned with the concept of a forest city , where OIKN is committed to supporting environmental conservation measures. The Director of Forestry and Water Resources Utilization Development at the IKN Authority, Pungky Widiaryanto, conveyed this commitment in a media meeting on Monday, March 25 2023.

Pungky explained that this commitment was also driven by Indonesia’s ratification of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. OIKN has also designed a strategy to make IKN an emission-free city by the end of the previous year.

The IKN landscape itself is located around industrial forests, production forests, conservation areas and protected forests. The area around IKN has a high level of biodiversity, with 3,889 species in its habitat and found within a 50 km radius of the city of Nusantara. A total of 168 species are mammals, 454 species of birds, 206 species of herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians), 1,369 species of fish, and 735 plant species. However, 105 species are endangered and 34 species are critically endangered according to the IUCN list.

To anticipate the impact of development on the environment, OIKN allocated around 177,000 hectares of land as a protected area. Even though only 16 percent is covered by forest, Pungky emphasized that protection efforts will be made.

OIKN also plans to involve the community in environmental conservation efforts around IKN. One of the initiatives is the establishment of citizen foresters, where the community will act as observers and protectors of wild animals in protected areas around IKN. Apart from that, OIKN will also build an underground route as a crossing road for wildlife around IKN.

Regarding interactions between humans and wild animals, Pungky said that the government plans to plant various plants on the edge of the IKN as a buffer zone. It aims to prevent conflict between humans and wildlife, as well as act as a barrier against forest fires.

Apart from that, Pungky also said that OIKN is collaborating with the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR) and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) which plans to build an overpass for wildlife crossings to ensure their habitat in IKN is maintained.

He explained that for some animals the track is above (the road), for some animals the track is below the road. Previously, surveys had been carried out, both landscape surveys and animal surveys that passed through the area.

Furthermore, in an effort to maintain biodiversity in IKN, OIKN has also upgraded the status of Balikpapasn Bay from a cultivation area to a protected area. Not only that, OIKN also changed plans to build a bridge in the Central Government Core Area (KIPP) into a tunnel. This step was taken because Balikpapan Bay has high biodiversity, with mangrove forests that are still thick and play an important role in carbon absorption.

Deputy for Environment and Natural Resources of the IKN Authority, Myrna Safitri, emphasized that IKN residents will be empowered to live side by side with wild animals, so as to minimize possible conflicts.

All of these plans and commitments will be announced at the IKN soft launch on Tuesday, March 26 2023. OIKN invites various parties, including conservation institutions and environmental activists, to provide input and ideas in an effort to maintain a balance between development and environmental preservation.

OIKN identified seven areas in IKN and its surroundings that have high biodiversity. The area includes the Mount Beratus Landscape, Bukit Soeharto Grand Forest Park, Balikpapan Bay, Sungai Wain Protected Forest, Samboja Lestari, Muara Jawa, and Mount Parung.

The strategy to present a sustainable forest city was designed through a development plan that pays attention to environmental sustainability and the use of green technology. With these steps, it is hoped that the development of the Indonesian Capital City can become an example of a sustainable and environmentally friendly development model, which respects the existence of nature and maintains its sustainability.

)* The author is an environmental observer

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