Pasi Lehmusluoto, dkk
Indonesian lake crisis, a reality?
Pasi Lehmusluoto1, Bambang Priadie2 and Juha Vauhkonen3
1Expedition Indodanau, P.O. Box 717, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
2Ministry of Public Works, Research Institute for Water Resources, Jl. Ir. H. Juanda 193, Bandung 40135, Indonesia
3 The Finnish Union of Environmental Professionals (FUEP), Vuorikatu 22A16, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
In 11TH WORLD LAKES CONFERENCE NAIROBI, KENYA, 31 OCTOBER TO 4TH NOVEMBER 2005
PROCEEDINGS VOLUME I EDITED BY: Eric O. Odada, Daniel O. Olago, Washington Ochola, Micheni Ntiba, Shem Wandiga, Nathan Gichuki and Helida Oyieke
Despite their small area, the Indonesian lakes store 500 km3 of water, equal to 22-28% of the annual renewable surface water. The inland fisheries catch of 400,000 t/year equals to the South American grasp, standing fourth in the world after China, India and Bangladesh. How a country treats its water resources collectively reflects the successes and failures of the environmental management and policy performance. It cannot be in Indonesia’s interest that incorrect signals of the ecological quality of its lakes are given. There is enough scientific evidence that the ecological quality of most of the larger lakes can be ranked as excellent, good, or satisfactory. The government’s decisions are usually made in data-poor and knowledge-poor situations, seldom based on scientific facts and adequate ecological understanding. Too often they are also influenced by opinions of local pressure groups with insufficient knowledge and experience. Hardly ever foreign NGOs, which have moved away from the focus of water professionals towards a conceptual framework, have the capacity to specify their initiatives to and leave residual capacity in Indonesia. Such groups support formulation of the Indonesian Lake Vision, a far too superficial concept to guide the central and local governments. Compared to Finland’s water resources management vision of only 67 words, nonetheless, the country is the world leader in the sustainable environment and water resources management. Visions do not stop degradation and pollution of aquatic ecosystems. Investment in healthy inland water ecosystems yields significant health, environmental and economic benefits. Improved understanding of lake ecology can be achieved only by examining the differences in physical, chemical and biotic properties among different aquatic ecosystems. The knowledge-based, predictive lake management builds on improved national capacity to understand the factual extent, causes, consequences, and control of disturbances, reducing uncertainties in lake management, risks in investments, and cost of failures in decisionmaking.
Key words: lake, resources, aquatic, ecology, quality, ustainability
The Indonesian inland waters cover a total of 618,500 km2 (32.6%) of the 1,900,000 km2 Indonesian archipelago, of which 394,000 km2 (20.7%) are peatlands, 119,500 km2 (6.3%) rivers and floodplains, 16,000 km2 (0.8%) man-made lakes, 5,000 km2 (0.3%) natural lakes, and 84,000 km2 (4.4%) irrigated areas, which can be considered as ecologically engineered shallow lakes. There are over 500-700 natural lakes, more than in any other Southeast Asian nation. Over 90% of the lakes are less than 1 square kilometer in area and shallow. These lakes are located at altitudes from near sea level to over 2,000 m and 14 of them are over 100 m and eight over 200 m deep. In the world there are only 20 lakes deeper than 400 m and three of them are in Indonesia. There are also nearly 200 multiple use reservoirs (Lehmusluoto, 2005).
The lakes store permanently roughly 500 km3 of freshwater, the largest volume of lake water in Southeast Asia, equaling to 22-28% of Indonesia’s annual renewable surface water resources, while reservoirs at full capacity hold 5% of the annual river flow (the full storage capacity is 10 km3). According to the Agenda 21-Indonesia water was detected only in rivers, dams and marshlands. In some islands the water demand already exceeds the available water resources. Indonesian inland waters are also directly and indirectly significant in food production. With the annual inland fisheries catch of nearly 400,000 tons, which is equal to the catch of the entire South America, Indonesia stands fourth after China, India, and Bangladesh (FAO, 2005).
The environmental, socioeconomic and cultural value of the Indonesian inland waters is great. Though the Indonesian people have greatly benefited from their lakes, rivers, wetlands and coastal seas, their ecological integrity and sovereignty for the present and future generations have not been properly considered. Usually hydrological change and augmented point and nonpoint pollution by nutrients, agro-chemicals and toxic substances result from watershed modifications of large settlement programs and urbanization and from forestry, agriculture, aquaculture and industry. Commonly, five major aquatic ecological problems are identified: siltation, eutrophication, acidification, toxification and loss of biological diversity.
However, there are a number of others. Impaired hydrology and unsustainable water withdrawal, dam construction, canalization, water diversion and pollution expand all over the country, altering the natural flow regimes, affecting water levels, draining wetlands and disturbing ecosystems. In the densely populated areas activities are focused on the lowlying waterfront margins where soils are more fertile, disturbance of the riparian zones has increased soil erosion and fluxes of contamination. The total annual silt transport from the Indonesian watersheds is estimated at 3,000 million tons (over 1,000 tons/km2/year), among the greatest in the world (Lehmusluoto, 2005).
Nonetheless, the truism of the Ministry of Environment that severe pollution from pulp, oil and fertilizer plants threatens most lakes with huge environmental impact and probability to environmental disasters (The Jakarta Post, 2005) is an overstatement. The most serious sources of pollution, community waste and sewage, were totally omitted. There is enough scientific evidence that the ecological quality of most of the lakes can be ranked as excellent, good or satisfactory (Ruttner, 1931, Lehmusluoto et al., 1997, 1999). Thus, the information of severe pollution, drop in ecological quality and causes of pollution provided by the ministry can be seen as unfortunate misguidance.
Materials and methods
The Indonesian lakes can be divided into two major clusters by their geographical features and the clusters into sub-groups (Table 1). Lakes with similar biological communities in pristine conditions should be identified for reference, enabling further comparison of respective clusters and sub-groups. To manage lakes in the first cluster, which are generally starting points of rivers or “eyes of the seas”, the ecosystem approach shall govern the activities in the lake and the catchment area.
However, these lakes have the advantage of being in the uppermost tributary and having relatively small catchment area/lake area ratios. Two exceptions shall be accepted, Dibawah-Singkarak and Matano- Mahalona-Towuti chains of lakes. Due to the long residence time of water, chances of recovery of lakes in this cluster are faint or will take hundreds or thousands of years.
Lakes in the second cluster are expanding and shrinking floodplains or in lowland areas appendices of rivers, where they may also form oxbow lakes or groups and chains of lakes. Such lakes are found in the lowland areas of Eastern Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. Reservoirs and rice fields are also included in this cluster. In the lakes of this cluster, increase or reduction of watershed effects is directly reflected in their status because water is rapidly renewed and the lakes could recover in years or tens of years.
In Indonesia, the lake area and usually unpredictable winds are important driving forces in the hydrodynamic events in contrast to the temperate lakes, in which the principal driving force is predictable seasonal variation in air temperature. The strong seasonal variation of precipitation may also have a considerable impact on water dilution and nutrient supply especially in smaller lakes. The seasonality of precipitation also essentially affects such biological events as algal blooms, zooplankton reproduction and fish spawning.
The traditional classification by stratification/mixing patterns is not adequate in Indonesia. In Table 2, the major features contrasting temperate and tropical lakes are emphasized. The tropical lake typology should base on the rate of metabolism or bioactivity: the rate of production and decomposition. However, in the absence of such data, a more relevant classification is the geographical features: origin, size, depth and altitude. In addition, factors like hydrology, water renewal time and irregular mixing make the management of tropical lakes more complex and unpredictable than of the temperate lakes (Lehmusluoto, 2003).
In the temperate regions, lake behavior is related to the rather predictable seasonal changes. In Indonesia, the irregular meteorological and weather events govern the limnological processes and the ecosystem approach is necessary in guiding the level of management efforts required in the basins. If the watershed degradation and pollution are efficiently controlled, rivers, river lakes and most reservoirs recover rapidly but recovery of the critically eutrophied or otherwise polluted lakes will take at least 5-6 times their water renewal time. Slow “flushing rate” lakes should be put highest in the management agenda. The average water renewal time of the world lakes is 17 years. Comparison of the key characteristics of the Champlain and Toba lakes clearly show that they are two entirely different lake types located in two latitudinal extremes (Table 3). The theoretical recovery time of Champlain is “only” 15 years but that of Toba nears 2000 years, though some changes may be irrecoverable. In general, there is space for both the watershed and ecosystem approaches.
Watershed, the physical entity integrating hydrology and ecology of lakes, is generally adopted as the unit for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). The IWRM programs shall be locally adaptive and produce new ideas and innovative management tools, not to repeat the global commons. At present, there is a lack of such programs between researchers, lake managers and the public at large. Advanced research, continuous monitoring and impact evaluation integrating all expected and unexpected but known synergistic and/or antagonistic effects shall be a mandatory part of all spatial and development planning.
The generalized global frameworks and superficial visions and manifests of international organizations and NGOs such as the Lake Basin Management Initiative (LBMI) (ILEC and LakeNet, 2004) and Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) (UNESCO and UNEP 2004) are parts of the holistic IWRM, which aims at (1) integrating local knowledge of freshwater and coastal area issues, (2) shifting focus on self-reliant country and region level control of water resources depletion, degradation and pollution, (3) instigating science-based, knowledgedriven management and policy-making and (4) practicing more empirical and analytically rigorous decision-making in the environmental realm.
In addition to the decades old common IWRM culture, LBMI and IWM partly overlap with the IWRM. Therefore a critical and objective priority setting evaluating complementarities between IWRM, LBMI and IWM: (1) IWRM forms a holistic basin wide integrated watershed – wetland/riparian ecotone – water body (lake, river, wetland, coastal area, etc.) management framework with the objective of maintaining the quantity and good quality of water resources and ecological health of aquatic ecosystems, (2) LBMI is a generality and assumptions-based management initiative which needs to be adjusted by experts to region and country level and (3) IWM (ecohydrology and phytotechnology) is basically a river load issue with the objective to enhance the absorbing capacity of ecosystems by changing hydrology and artificially constructing wetlands or by other means manipulating ecosystems but first all human-induced pressures must be efficiently controlled.
Lakes, depressions of the earth’s surface, contain water which is commonly received from rain and the interacting surrounding landscape or watershed areas. There are plentiful of lake types and their actual size, depth and the watershed area/lake area ratio vary significantly. However, the LBMI discusses also wetlands. In geography, a wetland is a flat environment at the interface between the truly terrestrial and truly aquatic ecosystems, making them different from each yet highly dependent on both. Their well being depends on the management of the parent water body.
The LBMI partners send ambivalent messages. The LBMI mantra is that in spite of the tremendous geographical, latitudinal and ecological diversity of lakes in the world, they share some common characteristics: (1) long water retention time, (2) complex dynamics and (3) transmissivity. Nevertheless, the ILEC emphasizes that the complex dynamics of lakes also argues for drawing on the best available scientific knowledge and, if necessary, mounting research programs to obtain knowledge that is critical to management. However, a proper conceptual model of these dynamics must be worked out well in advance of the programs (ILEC and LakeNet, 2004).
First, the long retention time is not a general rule, varying from days to thousands of years. The world average is 17 years. For the short retention time lakes the watershed (basin) approach might be used but especially for the lakes with longer retention times, a science-based ecological quality approach, in which the resilience capacity of individual lakes is evaluated. Second, the great diversity of types, complex dynamics and transmissivity are extremely site specific (origin, latitude, altitude, area, depth, etc.) and should receive more attention because global generality is a weak umbrella for sustainable lake management. As holistic studies are emerging, requiring especially new biological methods to evidence the quality of ecosystems, the government should concentrate on matters regarding quality of lake ecology and pollution control, i.e. sustainable development of lakes; (1) characteristics (“anatomy”) and functions (“physiology”) of the lake ecosystems, (2) interactions between lakes and their watersheds, (3) fish and fisheries and (4) runoff, wastewaters and effluents and their impacts.
Professors Franz Ruttner and August Thienemann, the early developers of limnology, shaped the concept of tropical limnology in Indonesia in the late 1920s. What formerly seemed self-evident now becomes a problem because general concepts, as e.g. “the concept of production and tropic classification, appear in an entirely new light” (Thienemann, 1932). This saying also crystallizes the importance to understand the global differences and the critical role of science in practical lake management. There is a high risk to oversimplify the issues because the present knowledge of tropical limnology bases on momentary records and snapshots describing net effects of continuous processes. Professor Robert G. Wetzel, one of the world’s most prominent limnologists, expressed apprehension over superficiality in understanding of ecological subjects and bibliographic negligence. In tropical limnology, universal move from basic structures, concentrations and biomasses to functional and metabolic aspects is a necessity (Wetzel, 2001).
Relative easiness is perhaps one of the main reasons to use the general conceptual frameworks and global visions in lake management. The dangers of wrong concepts and management failures are great and may lead to “creative disasters” in lakes because they may not capture the physical, chemical and biological processes that exist in different climatic and hydrological environments and cannot deal with uncertainty caused by poor knowledge of these processes and omission of important variables and site conditions. They also greatly overvalue the understanding of the management subjects and falsely generate confidence
The international organizations and NGOs promoting LBMI and IWM shall bear, together with their Indonesian counterparts, the responsibility if a clear consensus of a road map to the knowledgebased IWRM for lakes cannot be reached in the near future and lake deterioration advances. One cause to this is the country’s weak capacity to evaluate the appropriateness and usefulness of the foreign-introduced initiatives when the foreign organizations try to promote and advance their own institutional interests or interests of some of their staff members. These organizations usually have inadequate knowledge of the Indonesian lakes and unconvincing scientific proof of the positive impacts of the initiatives.
Yet, the LakeNet has reasoned that the evolution of the conceptual framework for managing lakes is accelerating. While experts and sound science have a vital role in lake management, many are now moving away from a focus on “water professionals” toward an approach that involves stakeholders informed with scientific information throughout the process. The goal is that the LakeNet will bring to the world of lake stewardship a new set of collaborative tools that is greatly needed and that will improve water quality across the globe. Practical experience addressing lake management problems is perhaps one of the main reasons that the conceptual framework continues to evolve (LakeNet, 2005). It may, however, also be an expression of institutional inability to foster knowledge-based lake management.
In the LBMI, IWM, World Lake Vision and the many global conventions, the temperate zone bias is simply “avoided” by including information from a handful of tropical lakes. It is ever more important to analyze how the complex matrix of factors of differences in latitude, geography and lake type specialize basin management, especially when the objective of the LBMI was to improve the lake basin management practices.
The Indonesian Academy welcomed the IWM, or the ecohydrology concept, as one of the uniting and prospective tools to manage our water resources and simultaneously restore the environment (Lehmusluoto, 2005). However, before ecohydrological measures can be applied threats of point sources of pollution as well as non-point sources from both direct and indirect catchments must be eliminated (UNESCO and UNEP, 2004). Originally, ecohydrology focused on understanding the fundamental processes between riparian ecotones of rivers in South America and how these natural processes could be help in water management (McClain, 2002).
Instead of uncritically accepting all imported initiatives, in the interest of Indonesian people it is necessary to start debating and questioning them. In Indonesia, decisions involving the complex aquatic environments are usually made in data-poor and knowledge-poor situations, requiring substantial investment in scientific capacity, reliable data and sophisticated management culture. The knowledgebased approach builds on the national capacity. With access to the global domain of information it allows meaningful management objectives and selfreliant decision support systems to mature, diminishing reliance on foreign support. It also allows use of the ecosystem qualities to find and game with lake specific, results oriented but costeffective management options.
Lakes have been reasonably well known but presently there is an ongoing shift towards conceptual frameworks and global visions in their management. However, how a country treats its freshwater resources is the single most important indicator of the environment policy and management performance because waters collectively reflect the cumulative effects of successes and failures, brought forward also to coral reefs and coastal seas.
Especially, weak law enforcement allows these mainly unauthorized hydrological conversions and pollution to threaten most inland waters and coastal seas.
The Indonesian lake management program must be outlined by professionals to avoid the basic mistake, inadequate understanding of the management subjects. Knowledge-based predictive lake management radically reduces uncertainties in results, risks in investments and cost of failures in decision-making. Substantial investment in scientific capacity, reliable data and capable professional supervision and administration in lake management is the most cost-effective and impact-securing choice for Indonesia. A strong operational link has to be established between scientists, managers and citizens in order to improve and promote the ecosystem approach based integrative and predictive lake management at the watershed scale, because water is an overarching and cross-cutting denominator of the UN Millennium Development Goals (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).
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