Definition and Establishement of Buffer Zone for Conservation Area

A buffer zone is required if the integrity and orignal condition of a conservation are is threatened. The threat usually comes from those who want to use natural resources for economic purposes. Almost all conservation areas in Indonesia are bordered by areas occcupied by communities which generally are poor social-economically. Therefore, their education level, population, and awareness are not in accordance with the objectives of conservation development program.

Indonesia Act No. 5, 1990 on The Conservation of Biological Resources and Ecosystem stipulates that "the government can designate an area adjacent to a conservation are as a buffer zone". This means that a buffer zone must be designed and established outside a conservation area. Furthermore, in the explanatory remarks of the Act, it is stipulated that a buffer zone is an area located beyond a natural reserve area, either as another forest area, free state land, or as land with certain rights, which is required and able to preserve the integrity of a Natural Reserve Area.

Definition of a Buffer Zone

A buffer zone is, in principle, a unit of land located outside a Conservation Area with different status, area, and levels of use according to the needs, local conditions, and status of land. Based of the status, an area to be designated as a buffer zone will be :
- forest area which consists of protected forest,
- limited productive forest. 
- permanent production forest. 
- conservation forest.
- coastal area.
- state land with free status.
- state land under imposition of certain concession 
   such as farm land, mining land or concession land
- community land such as dry land, wet rice land and garden.

The management of the buffer zone remains in the hards those who have the right over it, but they must manage it according to government stipulations. Management methods established by the government are now being formulated in a government regulation.

Establishment of a Buffer Zone

A buffer zone plays a vital role in preventing encroachment and threats to both Natural Reserve areas and Conservation Areas. The primary function of Natural Reserve area is to preserve plant and animal diversity and their ecosystem, and also as life support systems. The function of Nature Conservation area is to protect the life support system, to preserve the plant and animal diversity, and for sustainable use of biological resources and their ecosystems.
Establishing a buffer zone which suits local needs requires an on-site process of investigation. Based on the investigation, a proposal is submitted to Minister of Forestry. The establishment of a buffer zone will not eliminate a community's rights over the land but will only regulate its use in order that the area can provide a high economic value and be able to protect the integrity of the Natural Reserve Area and Conservation Area. 

Considering that the rights over the land still lie with the land owner, the process of establishment should be handled carefully, under the coordination or regional government.
In additon, in establishing a potential buffer zone, a literature study and on-site observation must be conducted to obtain an overview of issues and patterns of interaction between local communities and the conservation area.
The next step is to make an inventory of potentials and problems in the area. Results of the inventory must then be analyzed. Based on the analysis, a unit of area for a buffer zone is planned with a management pattern which aims to transform the dependence of local people on physical potentials of the area (for example, flora and fauna resources) and to the dependence on service benefits (for example, advantage from ecotourism or from sustainable utilization).