"Next year the expedition of Widya Nusantara will be conducted in Indonesia`s outermost island of Wetar."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Directly adjacent to Timor Leste, is Indonesias outermost island of Wetar in the district of Southwest Maluku, which has a lot of things that the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) wants to discover.

With a total area of 3,600 square kilometers, Wetar is a large island in the district that abounds with great potential and fragility.

Wetar island is the target of the Expedition of Widya Nusantara in 2016 (E-WIN 2016), LIPIs Deputy for Life Sciences Enny Sudarmonowati remarked in Jakarta Friday.

The goal of the Expedition of Widya Nusantara is to discover marine biodiversity in the island of Wetar, and to understand biogeochemical processes that trigger a rise of high biodiversity.

"Next year the expedition of Widya Nusantara will be conducted in Indonesias outermost island of Wetar," Enny said, and added that the expedition will certainly be much more expensive than the one previously conducted in the Enggano Island.

However, cooperation among deputies of LIPI will be further strengthened from the beginning, so that the much more funds can be collected for the expedition in Wetar, she noted.

"The expedition will be more expensive and because of that, the cooperation, by proposing a joint proposal, should be carried out from the beginning so that more funds can be collected for that purpose," she noted.

Many things about Wetar will be revealed in the expedition in the eastern Indonesian region, Enny added.

"I cannot mention what is going to be revealed, but certainly there are a lot of things. That is clear, unless the foreign party first uncover what is there in Wetar," she stated.

The Indonesian Institute of Sciences remains committed to supporting the development of the eastern region of Indonesia, especially in Wetar Island, according to her.

She reiterated that Wetar, an area of 3,600 square kilometers in Southwest Maluku district, becomes one of the foremost islands because it borders with Timor Leste in the south.

Wetar is more suitable as a duty-free port, Chairman of Economic Research Network of Eastern Indonesia Izzac Matitaputty said earlier.

The duty-free port will not only open the doors to isolated outer islands, but will accelerate the economic development of communities in Southwest Maluku district, he believed.

Wetar Island has the potential for a duty-free port similar to the one in Batam Island, of Riau province, Matitaputty noted.

"Wetar, an outlying island directly adjacent to Timor Leste, with its unique customs and culture, has the potential to develop a duty-free port alike Batam," he stated.

With an area of 3.6 thousand square kilometers, Wetar is the largest island in MBD district and is an ideal location for a duty-free port, he noted.

Developing a duty-free port in Wetar will help the outlying islands in the district to emerge from isolation and accelerate the economic development of the local communities, the lecturer from Pattimura Universitys Faculty of Economy opined.

"Constructing a duty-free port in Wetar is in line with President Joko Widodos sea transportation system of the maritime toll road program to connect thousands of Indonesian islands from Sabang to Merauke," he noted.

It was time for the Southwest Maluku district administration to seriously implement development concepts to improve the livelihood of the Wetar Island residents, he emphasized.

There are about 23 villages on the island, with people living off the sea and forest resources, fish of many kind, and sea cucumber. In the forest, they can find honey, cashew, and nutmeg, in addition to timber and other nuts and fruits. Gardens are an important part of life.

Wetar has received very little scientific interest, and there have been only few opportunistic visits to the island to survey its wildlife in the last century.

Between August 25 and November 18, 2008, some scientists working for the United Kingdom-based conservation charity, Columbidae Conservation, ran a field research project at Wetar to primarily conduct ornithological surveys of the island.

During this research, they discovered the endangered Wetar Ground-dove (Gallicolumba hoedtii), one of the worlds least known birds, on the island.

There have been no official records of the species on the Island for the past 100 years.

These initial observations are therefore very good news for the species� future conservation as, apart from Wetar the species only occurs on one other island, which is the neighboring island of Timor.

After fulfilling its initial aim to determine whether the Wetar Ground-dove was still present on Wetar, data is now being collected on its distribution, habitat requirements, and to identify any threats it may be facing.

The scientists reported that not only has the species been rediscovered but it is likely to be found locally in abundance.

At one location, the team observed a congregation of 30 to 40 birds feeding on fallen fig (Ficus) fruits, which represents by far the largest ever recorded gathering.

The team also reported that another endangered species of pigeon, the Timor Imperial Pigeon (Ducula cineracea) was also found in abundance in Wetar.

Colin Trainor, who led the research team, described the island of Wetar as amazing, as it has an incredible abundance of pigeons and parrots, and bird life in general. For the Wetar Ground-dove, it seems very likely that Wetar is the species stronghold, he said.




(T.O001/A/KR-BSR/A014) 07-11-2015 16:23:49

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2015