Biodiversity, endemism and the conservation of limestone Karsts in the Sangkulirang Peninsula, Borneo


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The Sangkulirang Peninsula in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo has been highlighted as a global priority for karst ecosystem conservation. A team of 19 scientists led by The Nature Conservancy and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences conducted a 5-week biological survey of Sangkulirang's karst mountains between July and August 2004 to determine the conservation relevance of the area based on its species richness and endemism levels. Preliminary results suggest that the peninsula is home to high levels of diversity for plants, snails, insects, birds and bats. The results underline the complementarity of species assemblages in this karst landscape, which is an important result for conservation planning. Because of these differences, more than one site must be protected to ensure the adequate protection of most species in one taxon. Several new species of plants and animals were discovered, including what is probably the largest cave cockroach in the world and a very small blind crab. Preliminary results also show significant threats to this biodiversity due to large-scale fires and, in some areas, illegal logging and hunting. The results of this survey will be used to elaborate or complement a proposal for legal protection and management of the Sangkulirang Peninsula karst ecosystem, in joint efforts with partner organizations and stakeholders, through a World Heritage site nomination.

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