Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: E. Timor Declares First National Park [2 Reports]

also: East Timor designates first national park to protect threatened wildlife

E. Timor declares 1st national park

TOKYO, Aug. 5 (Kyodo News) -- After five years as an independent nation, East Timor has declared its first national park.

The government formally approved the declaration of Nino Konis Santana National Park on July 27, according to a statement from the East Timorese acting prime minister's office seen here Sunday.

The 123,600-hectare park incorporates the entire northeastern tip of East Timor, comprising 68,000 hectares of land and 55,600 hectares of sea, the statement said.

''It conserves an extensive range of land and seascapes and will protect nationally and globally significant flora and fauna species and habitats on both land and sea, including extensive coral reefs and one of the largest remaining intact examples of tropical lowland and monsoon rainforest in the region,'' it said.

According to BirdLife International, which has carried out numerous biological surveys in East Timor, the park lies within the Coral Triangle, an area with the greatest biodiversity of coral and reef fish in the world.

It is habitat for rare and threatened species including green sea turtles, dugongs and saltwater crocodiles.

Particularly rich in bird life, it includes relatively large numbers of three globally threatened species of pigeon, plus the critically endangered Yellow-Crested Cockatoo, one of the world's rarest birds whose populations have been devastated by trapping for trade as household pets.

The area is also rich in archaeological heritage with many sites from the colonial Portuguese and World War II Japanese occupation periods.

The park was named in honor of Nino Konis Santana, a national hero and former rebel commander in the struggle for independence, who was born in a village within the national park's boundaries.

The area was a stronghold of the resistance movement during the struggle that culminated in East Timor's separation from Indonesia in 1999 and its formal independence in 2002.

BirdLife International, a global alliance of conservation organizations, helped the East Timor government set up the national park with assistance from the New South Wales government in Australia and funding from the Australian and British governments as well as Japan's Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund.


East Timor designates first national park to protect threatened wildlife

DILI East Timor, Aug 5 (AP) -- East Timor has designated its first national park as part of efforts to protect threatened bird species and rich marine life, some of which can not be found anywhere else in the world, wildlife officials said.

The 123,600-hectare (305,415 acres) Nino Konis Santana National Park is home to the critically endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea, the endangered Green-pigeon Treron psittaceus, and nearly two dozen other bird species unique to the country and neighboring islands.

It also spans 55,600 hectares (137,387 acres) of the 'Coral Triangle,' which boasts some of the richest biodiversity of coral and reef fish.

"The national park will protect globally significant biodiversity and the culture and socioeconomic livelihoods of communities living there," Manuel Mendes, director of East Timor's Department of Protected Areas and National Parks, said in a statement seen Sunday.

East Timor, which became Asia's newest nation five years ago after breaking free from decades of often-brutal Indonesian rule, remains desperately poor despite vast oil and gas reserves.

It descended into chaos last year when clashes between security forces morphed into widespread gang warfare, looting and arson in the capital, leaving dozens dead and sending more than 150,000 others fleeing their homes.

Mike Rands, chief executive of the international conservation group, BirdLife, praised the government's decision to designate the area a national park as "incredibly forward-thinking" and "all the more spectacular by the fact that this is such a young nation."

-------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service

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