ZSL Indonesia Field Programme
The ZSL Indonesia Programme began formally in 2002 under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) with the aim of taking a research-based, pragmatic approach to conservation in Indonesia.
Initially focussed specifically on the relationship between oil palm and the tiger on Sumatra, the project is now expanding to tackle a variety of conservation issues with a landscape perspective.
History and status
ZSL started working in Sumatra in 2001 following an invitation from a local oil palm company to advise on a small population of Sumatran tigers that were using plantation land and the neighbouring logging concession.
Led initially by Rob Gordon and from 2002 by Tom Maddox, the project developed into a five year study of tigers and other wildlife in an industrial landscape, forming the foundations for ZSL’s future direction in Indonesia.
Since 2002 ZSL has been operating under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and in close partnership with the Indonesian Department of Forestry (PHKA) and their local representatives (BKSDA).
In 2008 ZSL was recognised as an official international conservation organisation working in Indonesia by the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs. ZSL is currently negotiating a formal Memorandum of Understanding with the Indonesian Department of Forestry.
Aims and objectives
Conservation success in Indonesia requires a pragmatic, landscape-based approach. Effective conservation of the protected area network must be at the core of this, but this needs to be integrated with conservation action in the wider landscape, especially if many of the smaller protected areas are to retain value and the larger, charismatic species are to be conserved.
This means taking some realistic choices. In the current climate these industrial landscapes are dominated by large scale, often environmentally damaging activities. But these activities play a crucial economic role, providing jobs, tax revenue and foreign investment in a country that is still suffering badly from the economic crashes of the 1990s.
Campaigns against the major businesses having impacts on the Indonesian environment play an important role in publicising the issues and applying the pressure that brings change. But however much pressure is applied, it is highly unlikely that Indonesia’s landscapes will ever revert to their former forested state.
Whatever environmentalists think of them, the large scale agribusiness and mining corporations that control much of the remaining rural parts of Indonesia are here to stay.
ZSL’s overall mission is to promote and achieve the conservation of wildlife and their habitats.
Within Indonesia we are aiming to work towards this by working with partners to develop living landscapes, in which core conservation areas are protected effectively and supported by conservation-compatible activities in their environs.
To achieve this we have three primary fields of work:
1. Ecological research
2. Core area protection
ZSL's work - in photos
The following photostories hightlight the important work that ZSL is doing in Indonesia:
- What would YOU do if a tiger were coming into your village and eating your farm animals?
- Critical wildlife havens in Sumatran forests at risk
Find out more about ZSL's work in this area by visiting our Indonesia section