Tropical deforestation has become a major concern for the world community. Many study on  the impact of forest disturbance on biological  diversity has been documented especially in the tropical Sulawesi  Indonesia (Walter et al. 2003 ; Schulze et al. 2004 ; Aryanti et al 2005; Kessler et al. 2005 ; Pitopang 2002, 2004, 2006). Some studies reveal conspicuously reduced species richness in secondary or degraded rainforests (Brearley et al. 2004 ; Pitopang 2002). Increasing attention is now being placed on tropical secondary forest because the sustainable use of the resources they provide is essential for the continued protection of undisturbed primary forest areas. 

Secondary forests may act as buffer zones and serve as a habitat for forest plants and animals displaced from primary forest which has been destroyed. They may also act as reservoirs for recolonization and as corridors between remaining primary forest fragments.  

with Prof. S.R. Gradstein, University of Gottingen, Germany

with Prof. S.R. Gradstein, University of Gottingen, Germany

 I presented a preliminary result of composition of  a 35-40 year old secondary rainforest at the Lore Lindu National Park, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Four 0.25 ha plots were established in the Toro village, at the western part border of the National Park at elevation 950 m asl.), Individually all big trees (dbh > 10 cm) was numbered with tree tags and their position in the plot mapped,  crown diameter and  dbh measured, whereas trunk as well as total height measured by Vertex.  The result show that We recorded  482 individual of tree and 2408 sapling (dbh 2-9.9 cm)   per ha.  Tree species were mainly composed by Dracontamelon dao Merr (Anacardiaceae), Cyathocalyx acuminatus R.C. Rob (Annonaceae), Lithocarpus induta Blume (Fagaceae), Pangium edule Reinw. (Flacourtiaceae), Alstonia scholaris R.Br (Apocynaceae), Arenga pinnata (Wurb) Merr (Arecaceae), Elaeocarpus macropus Warb, Elaeocarpus octopetalus Merr (both Elaeocarpaceae), Palaquium luzoniense (Fern-Vaill) Vidal (Sapotaceae), Drypetes minahassae (Boerl. & Koord) Pax. & K. Hoffm (Euphorbiaceae), Aporosa lucida (Miq) Airy Shaw etc. Whereas, the sapling species were mainly consisted of Osmoxylon massarangense Phillipson (Araliaceae),  Cyathocalyx acuminatus R.C. Rob (Annonaceae), Ilex cymosa Blume (Aquifoliaceae), Pometia pinnata (Sapindaceae), Areca vestiaria Giseke, Pinanga caesea Blume, Arenga undulatifolia Becc (Arecaceae).   





Written by : Dr. Ramadanil Pitopang

Team Survey under coordinated by Dr.Ramadanil Pitopang

Team Survey under coordinated by Dr.Ramadanil Pitopang

Morowali Nature Reserve is one of protected area in the Wallacea region which was established in 1980, to protect 525,500 acres of complex habitat types, including coral reefs, mangroves, rainforests, grasslands, swamps, and lakes. Morowali’s mountain habitats include three peaks over 7,000 feet, including the majestic 7,946-foot Mt. Tambusisi. The reserve also contains a little-explored 980-foot deep cave. Morowali serves as a water catchment for five big rivers—Sumara, Morowali, Solato, Sobuko, and Bongka. These rivers provide essential environmental services to people in the surrounding areas, including water resources for irrigation, industries, and domestic use.

An initial survey on the biological diversity of the Morowali Nature Reserve has been done at three (3) sites namely Taronggo, Kea-kea and Uwata which were located arround the reserve from May-June 2007. The surveyed aimed to collect the biological diversity data including vegetation, avifauna and large mammals by using survey methods on transect along 3 km in each location.

Wildlife of Morowali NR

Wildlife of Morowali NR

The result showed more than 400 number of fertile herbarium specimens which were collected and deposited at the Herbarium Celebense (CEB) Universitas Tadulako. Structure and composition of vegetation in the studied area indicated a specific pattern. We recorded several unique and endemic plant to Sulawesi such as Macadamia hildebrandii (Proteaceae), Knema celebica (Myristicaceae), Gymnacranthera maliliensis, (Myristicaceae) Sarcotheca celebica (Oxalidaceae), Licuala celebica (Arecaceae), Gronophyllum macrospadix (Arecaceae), Korthalsia celebica (Arecaceae), Dinochloa barbata (Poaceae), Deplancea bencana (Bignoniaceae), Dillenia serrata and Dillenia celebica (Dilleniaceae) etc.

Although exact numbers are still not available, initial surveys show that Morowali is home to most of Sulawesi’s endemic large mammals, including lowland anoa or dwarf buffalo, the pig-like babirusa, the Sulawesi pig, and a species of Sulawesi macaque. Morowali’s mountain terrain provides habitat for the Sulawesi giant civet, one of the world’s least-known carnivores, and the small nocturnal cuscus. For avifauna, latest survey recorded that of the 156 bird species, 49 of them are endemic. Notable species that endemic to Sulawesi include the maleo (Macrocephalon maleo), Yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea), Ornate Lory (Trichoglossus ornatus), Snoring Rail (Aramidopsis plateni), Black Pigeon (Turacoena manadensis), and all five endemic kingfishers. Numerous raptors, water birds including the Wooly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus), and nightjars are also found in Morowali Nature Reserve. Reptiles include the bizarre Sail-fin Lizard (Hydrosaurus amboinensis), and huge 12 meter-long Reticulated Pythons (Python reticulatus). In addition, a wealth of fascinating plants can also be seen in the reserve, ranging from massive Agathis (damar) trees to rare orchids and several species of pitcher plants (Nepenthes spp).

Morowali Nature Reserve is surrounded by 21 villages located along the boundary and also inhabited by the indigenous people of Wana, the majority of whom still practice their ancestral patterns of existence by moving house every few years to clear a new patch of forest and plant their crops. They hunt birds and other animals in the forest with blowpipes, snares, and spears, and fish in the rivers and lakes. Almost everything they use is made from the forest, including barkcloth clothes. The Wana people have communal rights to several areas in Tokala Mountain Ranges inside the nature reserve. Despite its important values for biodiversity conservation and economic development, Morowali faces serious threats for its long-term conservation, including illegal logging and hunting, agricultural encroachment, and road development.

Although Morowali’s biodiversity has not yet been definitively catalogued, scientists believe that the reserve’s complex habitat types will yield undiscovered populations of Sulawesi’s endemic flora and fauna species. Based on the threats potentially affect Morowali Nature Reserve, The Nature Conservancy (based on Goal 2015 to establish one million hectares protected area in Sulawesi) and Research Center of Plant Biodiversity Tadulako University (Herbarium Celebense) has planned to take the reserve as a new conservation site. The target for MNR, based on 2007/2008 Work Plan, is to establish complete Management Plan which will be containing details activities and responsibility of every stakeholder in dealing with the reserve within the frame of conservation management plan. The first milestone therefore urgently needed is to formulate the conservation management by initiating coherent planning processes.

Out of 25 biodiversity hotspots of the world, Southeast Asia harbor four of these hotspots each of which has a unique geological history that has contributed to its rich and often unique biota.

with Max van Balgooy at Lore Lindu Park

with Max van Balgooy at Lore Lindu Park

During the Pleistocene glacial period, some temperate species from northern Asia expanded their ranges southwards into Indo-Burma and retained their presence thereafter. Fluctuating sea levels periodically converted mountain into geographically isolated islands, creating conditions that were ideal for speciation. The episodes sea level changes also repeatedly connected the islands of Sundaland (covering the westerns half of the Indo-Malayan archipelago) to the Asian mainland, enabling biotic migration from the mainland to the archipelago. As the sea level rose, the isolation of these island also facilitated speciation.

The presence of rain forest refugees in part of Sundaland during the Pleistocene also enabled the persistence of its forest biota. Australia and New Guinea are still isolated from Southeast Asia by marine barriers, but the northward movement of Australia in the Miocene gave rise to the Indonesian archipelago, which has permitted an increasing interchange with Southeast Asia plants. The distinctive differences in animal communities between Southeast Asia and New Guinea were first noted in the 19th century by the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (Wallace 1858). In recognition of his discovery, the line of separation between these two biotic regions is now called Wallace’s line and the region between Borneo and New Guinea, with its numerous central Indonesian islands including Sulawesi, is known as Wallacea. Although it was never connected to the Asia mainland, Wallacea is one of the most geologically complex regions in the world, because its island originated from land fragment that rifted from Gondwanaland at different geological time periods. This unique geological history, together with its stable tropical climate and numerous insular biotas, enabled Wallacea to evolve highly endemic biotas of its own.

Sulawesi, formerly known as Celebes, is one of the large islands of Indonesia. It is the most important island in the “Wallacea subregion”, situated in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, between Borneo (Kalimantan) and the Moluccan islands. The subregion of Wallacea is an area delimited by Wallace’s line in the west and Lydekker’s line in the east.

Knowledge of Indonesia’s flora especially Sulawesi island is poorly known due to lack of study or botanical exploration in this area (Baas et al. 1990). For example the amount of botanical collecting in Sumatera is 20 times higher than in Sulawesi ( Veldkamp et al. 1997), even though Sulawesi has recently been identified as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, especially rich in species found nowhere else in the world and under major threat from widespread deforestation (Pitopang and Gradstein 2003). The island‘s position directly to the east of the modern version of Wallace’s line, the biogeographical division between Laurasian and Gondwana elements of the flora and fauna, makes it a key for the understanding both the biogeography of Southeast Asia and the evolution of many Southeast Asian plant groups (Moss and Wilson, 1998).

 Sulawesi is comprised of about 182,870 km2 of land surface and has more forest per inhabitant than most other islands of Indonesia due to its rugged topography (Newman et al. 2004; Keßler et al. 2002). The “spider shape” of the island of Sulawesi results from a very complex geological history, as yet not fully elucidated (Whitten et al. 1987). The central part of Sulawesi is an area of mountainous landscape with rising over 3000 m, and huge tracts of rolling forest. The southern arms of Sulawesi have had an active agricultural population since early times and little forest area is left. From Tana Toradja southward the land is given over to grazing and rice production. Just North of Makassar are peculiar-shaped limestone cliffs and spectacular karst scenery, a wonderful setting for the Bantimurung butterfly sanctuary. Near Kendari is the large Rawa Aopa swamp with rather dry and seasonal climate (MacKinnon 1992).

There are several protected areas in Sulawesi (Fig. 2.2) including Dumoga Bone National Park, Bunaken National Park, Lore Lindu National Park, Togian Island National Park, Morowali Nature Reserve, Tinombala Nature Reserve, Pangi-Binangga Nature reserve, Bakiriang Wildlife Reserve, Palu Grand Forest Park, Rawa Aowa National Park, Tanjung Api Nature Reserve, Gunung Ambang Nature Reserve, Tangkoko Dua Saudara National Park, Manembo-nembo, Peruhampesi Nature Reserve, Lompobatang, Bantimurung, Lambusango, Buton Utara, Matano/Mahalano, and Togian Island National Park, the last one just established as National Park in 2005. These protected areas offer suitable habitats for the rich flora and fauna of Sulawesi. However, even within these parks the flora and fauna is now threatened by human activities such as illegal logging, hunting, land conversion, etc. (Pitopang et al. 2004a)

Total species richness and endemism of Sulawesi are comparable to those of Sumatra, Java, Borneo and New Guinea, in spite of the very different geological history of Sulawesi and the greater distance of the island to the mainland (Roos et al. 2004). Whereas the islands of Borneo, Sumatra and Java had terrestrial connections to mainland Asia in the past, Sulawesi was always isolated from these islands as well as from New Guinea by deep maritime straits as shown by Hall (1995) and Moss and Wilson (1998) through the reconstruction of the Malay archipelago since 50 million ago (Fig.2.3). Approximately 15% of the known flowering plant species of Sulawesi are endemic (Whitten et al. 1987). Van Balgooy et al. (1996) recognized 933 indigenous plant species on Sulawesi and of these 112 were endemic to the island. Endemism varies among groups, however, and is very high in orchids and palms which total 817 orchid species (128 genera) including 493 endemic ones (Thomas and Schuiteman 2002). Critical study of the endemic taxa is urgently needed. Yuzami and Hidayat (2002) discussed 134 endemic species from Sulawesi, half of them being orchids, e.g., Phalaenopsis celebensis Sweet, Vanda celebica J.J.Smith, Coelogyne celebica, Abdominiea miniflora. Goodyera reticulata, Goodyera celebica, Orophea celebica, Eucalyptus deglupta, Diospyros celebica Bakh., Polyalthia celebica Miq. Agathis celebica, Allocasia suhirmaniana Yuzammi and A. Hay, etc. According to Keßler et al. (2002) approximately there are 5000 species of vascular plants (including more than 2100 woody one) in Sulawesi. Compared to other main islands of Indonesia (Sumatera, Java, Borneo, New Guinea) the composition of the flora of Sulawesi is unique even though being less rich in species.

Van Steenis (1950) recorded 59 endemic genera in Borneo but only seven (7) in Sulawesi. Striking biogeographically features of Sulawesi are the almost total absence of Dipterocarpaceae (the dominant trees in the rain forest of Borneo, Sumatera, and the Malaysian Peninsula), only 6 species of this family occurring in Sulawesi. Fagaceae show an almost similar pattern, with only six species of Lithocarpus and Castanopsis being known from Sulawesi, compared to 60 and 21 respectively recorded from Borneo (Keßler 2002).

Publication dealing specifically with the bryophytes of Sulawesi are very few, and records are very scattered and often mentioned casually in literature with the bryoflora of Java and other islands. Gradstein et al. (2005) reported about 476 are found in Sulawesi so far, including 340 of moss (in 145 genera), 134 of liverwort (in 46 genera), and 2 of hornwort (in 2 genera). One liverwort and four moss species are only known from Sulawesi and two names, Calyptrochaeta perlimbata (Dixon) B.C. Tan & B.C.Ho, comb.nov and Macromitrium novorecurvulum B.C. Tan & B.C. Ho, nom.nov, are newly proposed. As compared with other Indonesian islands, the flora of Sulawesi is very poor in bryophyte species, which is most likely due to lack of collecting activities. In comparison, about 4-5 times as many bryophyte species are known from Borneo and New Guinea. The incomplete knowledge of the flora of Sulawesi is also shown by recent botanical explorations, which yielded many new species, e.g., Alocasia megawatii (Yuzami et al. 2000), Impatien punaensis (Utami and Wiriadinata 2002), Calamus sp nov. 1 (ahlidurii), Caryota sp. nov.1 (angustifolia), Caryota sp.nov.2 (pumila), Pinanga sp.nov.2 (rubiginosa), Pinanga sp.nov.3 (tenuirachis), Pinanga sp.nov. 4 (longipes), Pinanga sp.nov.5 (soroakoensis), Pinanga sp.nov.6 (dentata), Pinanga (mogeana) (Mogea 2002), Eltingeria sp. (no.937) (Newman et al. 2004).


Due to the absence of the Herbarium in Wallacea region, Some botanist including Prof. Dr. Stephan Robbert Gradstein, Prof. Christoph Leuschner, Prof. Edi Guhardja, Dr. Sri Tjitrosudirdjo and Dr. Ramadanil Pitopang were initiated to establish a Herbarium in Sulawesi. The Herbarium Celebense (CEB) was build at the Tadulako University of Palu in 2000. The establisment of the Herbarium was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of the STORMA Project (Stability of Rainforest Margins) with the technical supported by Herbarium Bogoriense (BO) and Nationaal Herbarium of Netherland, Leiden (L) and the Herbarium of the University of Gottingen (GOET). The Herbarium has been registered in the International Index Herbariorum (New York) with the abbreviation CEB. Thus far, more than 10.000 dried plant specimens are kept at the Herbarium Celebense . Herbarium collections are mainly consisting of: spermatophytes, rattan, fern, mosses and Lichenes. The herbarium also houses the types three (3) specimens new species described from Sulawesi (in the genera Artabotrys, Nepenthes and Begonia ) and several Artifacts of Ethnobotany are mainly from Tao Taa Wana Ethnics in Morowali Nature Reserve.

bali_symposium           I attended an International Symposium “ Land use after Tsunami. under coordinated by Unsyiah-UNTAD in collaboration with  Aculture Project- Asian Link at  Banda Aceh Sumatra Indonesia, held on 04-07 November 2008.  I presented in oral an article entitled “ Impact of Forest Disturbance on Tree Diversity in Tropical Rain Forest margin of The Lore Lindu National park, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia”

               Sulawesi which was formerly known as Celebes, is one of the big island in Indonesia. The island is the most important island in the “Wallacea subregion”, situated in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, between Borneo (Kalimantan) and the Moluccan islands. Van Steenis (1979) revealed that phytogeography of Sulawesi is part of the Malesian floristic unit; its flora is reportedly related to the Philippines, New Guenea, and Borneo and belongs to the Eastern Malesian.

The Scientific knowledge of Sulawesi’s flora both taxonomically and ecologically is still limited due to lack botanical research and publication on this subject (Bass et al. 1990; Keßler 2002), for example the amount of botanical expedition in Sumatra 20 times than Sulawesi (Veldkamp et al. 1997) and in whole island’s surface, the plant collection density is with 25 per 100 km² one of the lowest in Malesia (Kessler et al. 2002) but Sulawesi has recently been identified as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, especially rich in species found nowhere else in the world and under major threat from widespread deforestation (Pitopang and Gradstein 2003).

During 2007-2008, some botanical field works have been conducted at the Lore Lindu National Park and Morowali Nature Reserve in the island of Sulawesi. by The Nature Conservation (TNC) Palu field office under coordination Dr. Ramadanil Pitopang The structure and taxonomic composition of the vegetation showed different pattern compare to Borneo, Sumatra or other islands in the western part of Indonesia. The high number of new records in tree species (dbh >10 cm) for the island of Sulawesi is remarkable. Out of 102 total number of tree species in 1,6 Ha at the Lore Lindu national Park , We were recorded 35 tree species are new record for Sulawesi. These species are Goniothalamus phillipinensis Merr (Annonaceae), Gastonia serratifolia (Miq.) Phillipson (Araliaceae), Areca vestiaria Giseke (Arecaceae), Cyathea celebica Blume (Cyatheaceae), Elaeocarpus glaber Blume (Elaeocarpaceae), E. luteolignum Coode (Elaeocarpaceae), Lithocarpus elegans (Blume) Hatus. Ex. Supadmo (Fagaceae), Platea latifolia Blume (Icacinaceae), Magnolia montana (Blume) Figlar & Noot., Laviera montana Becc, Mathaea sancta Blume ( Monimiaceae), Dysoxyllum acutangulum Miq. Subsp foveolatum (Radlk.) Mabb (Meliaceae), Ficus aurita Blume, Ficus calcarata Corner, Ficus glandulifera King, Ficus ramiflora Corner ex CC. Berg (Moraceae), Ixora longifolia Valeton, Porteandia celebica Zahid and Psychotria malayana Jack (Rubiaceae), Gymnacranthera farquhariana Warb var. zippeliana R.T. Schouten, Knema stellata subsp.minahassae (warb) W.J. de Wilde and Myristica simiarum subsp celebica (Miq) W.J. de Wilde (Myristicaceae).

Nepenthes pitopangii Newspec. from Lore Lindu N.Park, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

Nepenthes pitopangii Newspec. from Lore Lindu N.Park, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

The other botanist who were made botanical survey in Sulawesi also found some spectacular research finding. They recorded a proposed new species for the science such as Dysoxyllum quadrangulatum spec.nov (H. Culmsee 2008, data will be published) and Nepenthes pitopangii spec. nov. (Lee 2008, data will be published). These data indicated that the island of Sulawesi is home of the unexplored plant diversity in Wallacea region

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