Tangkahan Tourism Institute Promotes Ecotourism to Combat Illegal Logging in North Sumatra, Indonesia

Tangkahan Tourism Institute Promotes Ecotourism to Combat Illegal Logging in North Sumatra, Indonesia

Tangkahan Tourism Institute Indonesia

Ecotourism Business Forum

Recently, the 8th International Ecotourism Business Forum and Mart was held in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The conference was organised by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, and the Indonesian Ecotourism Network (Indecon). The aim was to connect both local and international ecotourism operators and assist in expanding the Indonesian ecotourism market.


Hosted by the Batak Karo community in Tangkahan, the location provided the perfect backdrop to share ideas, celebrate successes and discuss issues surrounding ecotourism in Indonesia. Set amidst the forested peaks of Gunung Leuser National Park, on the banks of Batang Serangan and Buluh rivers, participants were able to experience the beauty of Tangkahan. They were given the opportunity to witness its wildlife, orangutans, Thomas leaf langurs and elephants to name a few, enjoy the invigorating energy of its waterfalls and the cool serenity of its forest. But what made Tangkahan even more appropriate for such a gathering is the vision of the local community and the success achieved through collaboration with organisations such as Indecon.


Tangkahan Tourism Indonesia


Tangkahan Tourism Institute

In 1997 many of the villagers in Tangkahan were illegal loggers. Realising the value of the forest beyond that of harvesting timber, the local community wanted change and turned to Indecon for guidance. Indecon became involved in early 2000, and working with the community set out a master plan for the development of ecotourism in the area. The Lembaga Pariwisata Tangkahan (LPT) or Tangkahan Tourism Institute was formed with an aim to promote ecotourism and provide sustainable incomes that would render illegal logging obsolete. Thirty-two out of the fifty-five founding members of LPT were illegal loggers, showing the high level of commitment of the community to change.


In 2002, the National Park authority signed an MOU with the LPT giving the local community the authority to manage an area of the park for ecotourism with the condition that they would protect and conserve the area. This was unprecedented in Sumatra at that time and aside from giving the community the responsibility for protecting around 10,000 hectares of forest (now 17,500), it also gave them a sense of validity in the transition they were undertaking.


Through forming relations with organisations such as Indecon and Flora and Fauna International, the community was able to develop the skills of its members in areas such as ecotourism development and management, planning and policy development, conservation management, and monitoring and assessment. These skills were merged with Karo culture and values to ensure community ownership of the initiative and equality in the distribution of benefits.




Future Challenges and Opportunities for Tangkahan

Tangkahan is now at a point where the skills obtained over the last twelve years will be tested. How will the community continue to balance their tourism and conservation objectives as its popularity as a tourist destination increases?


One thing that is obvious when discussing tourism with the people of Tangkahan is that they are well aware of this next challenge. The relationships developed through organisations like Indecon, and the tenacity of the community itself will no doubt ensure that this challenge will be met with gusto. Perhaps in the near future we may see innovative solutions emerge from Tangkahan as it continues its evolution.




Photo credits: 1 & 2 - Raw Wildlife Encounters; 3 & 4 - Indecon



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