482 views Celebrate National Wildlife Conservation Day: Let’s Safeguard Indonesia’s Biodiversity from Alien Species Invasion - KEHATI KEHATI

Celebrate National Wildlife Conservation Day: Let’s Safeguard Indonesia’s Biodiversity from Alien Species Invasion

Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park area has been invaded by a bamboo species called Chimonobambusa quadrangularis. This bamboo has taken over the area

  • Date:
    05 Nov 2023
  • Author:



Author: Aisyah Handayani, Researcher in the Invasive Species Management Research Group at the Ecology and Ethnobiology Research Center – BRIN. (Aisyah.Handayani@brin.go.id)


Every 5th of November, Indonesia commemorates National Love Wildlife Day. As one of the important days, it is usually celebrated with activities related to the preservation and protection of Indonesia’s biodiversity. Various events are held to promote love and pride for Indonesia’s biological richness, including photo competitions, exhibitions, seminars, and other activities ranging from local to national scale.


When discussing the protection of biodiversity, it seems insufficient to only address issues such as deforestation, forest encroachment, illegal hunting, and other harmful activities to wildlife and ecosystems. There is a long-standing issue that also poses a threat to Indonesia’s biodiversity, but is not widely known, which is the presence of alien species that quietly fill the gaps among Indonesia’s native biodiversity.


What is an alien species?


According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), alien species, also known as exotic species, refer to animals, plants, and other organisms that have been introduced (either intentionally or unintentionally) from outside Indonesia into its territory as a result of human activities commonly referred to as Travel, Transport, Trading, and Tourism (4T).


The latest report from IPBES reveals that there are currently 37,000 alien species globally, out of which 3,500 are invasive species, having negative impacts on the environment and human life. These invasive species comprise 1,061 plant species, 1,852 invertebrate species, 461 vertebrate species, and 141 microbe species on a global scale. The majority of alien species invade terrestrial areas (75%), followed by freshwater ecosystems (14%), and oceans (10%).


Based on this, IPBES states that invasive alien species are identified as one of the five direct or indirect factors contributing to the global decline of biodiversity.


What about the presence of alien species or invasive alien species in Indonesia?


In 2016, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) released Regulation Number P.94 on invasive species. This regulation listed a total of 132 invasive species found in Indonesia.


During the same year, BIOTROP published a book on 75 Important Invasive Plant Species in Indonesia. In 2017, the Agricultural Quarantine Agency (Badan Karantina Pertanian) also published a book on a variety of insect pests associated with specific plants as a guide for the quarantine process.


Moving forward to 2020, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP) issued Regulation No.19 which documented 56 alien species spreading across Indonesian waters. Among these species, the Alligator Gar (Atractosteus spatula) was found to be the most widespread.


These publications and regulations play a significant role in understanding and managing invasive species in Indonesia. In their recent study, Holmes et al. (2023) reported that over 1600 species of vascular plants introduced to Indonesia are now considered naturalized. This indicates that these alien species have successfully adapted and spread widely across several islands in Indonesia.


What have been the consequences of this Alien Species Invasion?


According to data from Bappenas, nearly 50% of Indonesia’s National Parks have been invaded by alien species. This invasion has led to a decline in the population of endemic wildlife and plants in Indonesia. One well-known example is the invasion of acacia (Vachellia nilotica) in Baluran National Park. Currently, over half of the savannah in Baluran National Park has been invaded by acacia. This invasion has resulted in reduced grass growth and hindered the mobility of wildlife in the savannah due to the thorns of acacia. Ultimately, it affects the population of banteng (Bos javanicus), green peafowl (Pavo muticus), and other species.


In another case, the invasion of melastoma (Melastoma malabathricum) in the tidal swamp area of Way Kambas National Park has caused the shallowing and shrinkage of the swamp. However, this area is the habitat of a rare water bird species, the storm’s stork (Asarcornis scutulata), which is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.


In TN Bromo Tengger Semeru, changes in the aquatic ecosystem due to the invasion of alien species are also occurring. A study conducted by Sawitri & Takandjandji in 2019 revealed that over 80% of the Ranu Pani water area has been covered by Salvinia molesta, commonly known as water fern. This has led to an increase in BOD and COD levels, as well as a decrease in oxygen content and pH, posing a significant threat to the Ranu Pani ecosystem.


Another invasive alien species that poses a similar risk is Eichhornia crassipes, commonly known as water hyacinth. This species has already invaded Danau Rawa Pening in Central Java, causing disruptions to the local community’s activities in Waduk Jatiluhur, and resulting in siltation in Danau Tondano in North Sulawesi.


What should be done?


To combat the threat of invasive alien species, a comprehensive approach of prevention, control, and management is essential. Unfortunately, there is still limited information regarding alien species or invasive alien species within certain communities. Broadly speaking, the general public is not yet familiar with these terms, resulting in a lack of awareness that these alien species have already spread and coexist with us. As a result, the practice of trading ornamental plants and/or exotic animals remains prevalent in Indonesia. However, it is important to note that this trade serves as one of the pathways for the spread of alien species. For example, the buying and selling of alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) and arapaima (Arapaima gigas).


Therefore, conducting a campaign to raise awareness about invasive alien species is crucial. Disseminating information about these species can be a starting point in generating public knowledge and serve as a preventive measure to curb their spread. This effort aligns with Indonesia and ASEAN countries’ Invasive Alien Species Management Action Plan developed in September 2023, specifically under the “Enhancing Awareness and Education” section. It also corresponds to the objectives of the IPBES Global Framework and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in regards to controlling invasive alien species.


On the occasion of the National Flora and Fauna Love Day, let us introduce to the general public the fact that the presence of invasive alien species around us can pose a threat to the biodiversity we possess. Let us familiarize ourselves with Invasive Alien Species, in order to understand their impacts and prevent their further spread. Let us express our love for Indonesia’s national flora and fauna by protecting them from the invasion of alien species.