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Strengthening Ecotourism Group Capacity in Sungai Hitam


The Blue Forests-ELTI program is hosting a field course on ecotourism in Sungai Hitam, East Kalimantan.

The proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) is a primate species endemic to the island of Borneo. The population has been declining due to habitat destruction and illegal poaching. This species is protected nationally based on Government Regulation number 7 of 1999 and internationally under CITES Appendix I list and the IUCN Red list. Proboscis monkeys and other animals live on the banks of rivers characterized by mangrove ecosystems.  Sungai Hitam in East Kalimantan is one such river. A population of 143 proboscis monkeys was identified in Sungai Hitam in 2013 (Atmoko et al., 2013).

One of the proboscis monkey conservation efforts in Sungai Hitam is through ecotourism. The proboscis monkey habitat in Sungai Hitam is managed by a community group (Pokdarwis or community tourism group). Sungai Hitam is located outside of the state forest, which makes protecting the proboscis monkey more difficult due to the risk of conversion to non-forestry uses. Legally, the landowner has the right to change the function of the area—for example, changing the use to residential use—which in turn would threaten the proboscis monkey habitat. The Pokdarwis group has been managing the mangrove area by themselves with the support of the Tropenbos-ELTI program. However, the group has not been formally exposed to ecotourism management and mangrove restoration efforts to improve their ecotourism areas.

The role of management institutions is crucial to support mangrove ecotourism as well as proboscis monkey conservation efforts in the Sungai Hitam. The community group needs to implement the principles of sustainable ecotourism directly in the field to support the conservation of proboscis monkeys and their habitat in Sungai Hitam. With this need in mind, the Blue Forests-ELTI program is implementing a course on strengthening ecotourism group capacity in Sungai Hitam through study exchange with the Balikpapan Mangrove Center and field practice to assess the potential for mangrove restoration in Sungai Hitam.


1. The challenge of managing mangrove ecotourism and proboscis monkey conservation
2. Field tour of the Balikpapan Mangrove Center
3. The principles of sustainable ecotourism management
4. Field visit to potential mangrove restoration areas in Sungai Hitam
5. Mangrove nursery management
6. Mangrove nursery management field practice