Ecotourism in Indonesia could flourish more if the operation of conservation areas like national parks is managed by the private sector, a top researcher said on Wednesday.
University of Indonesia professor of conservation biology Jatna Supriatna, who chairs the university’s Research Center for Climate Change, said privatizing the management of national parks was an ideal move to make national parks “profit centers” like in foreign countries, notably in the United States.
“In Indonesia, conservation areas are not prepared to serve as profit centers for the state. Ideally, the government should act merely as a regulator, while the development of national parks should be managed by the private sector,” Jatna said in a public lecture.
In Ujung Kulon National Park in Banten, a home to the near-extinct Javanese rhinoceros, a lack of adequate infrastructure such as roads has prevented tourists from visiting the site. Jatna said the situation would change if the government could give business players a chance to manage conservation areas because this would lead to their improvement, which would eventually attract more tourists.
“Generating profit does not always lead to destruction. It has been globally agreed that national parks could serve as sources of profit for the state,” Jatna added.
A 2011 government regulation allows public-private partnerships for managing conservation areas. In 2016, the Environment and Forestry Ministry signed an agreement with timber company APRIL to manage the newly launched Zamrud National Park in Riau, but it was eventually canceled because of what the ministry called an “indication of infringement”, Antara reported. (ebf)