Essential Ecosystem Area (KEE) and Other Alternative Strategic Areas for Flores Karst Protection

There is another concept for conservation that covers a wide landscape. It is called the Essential Ecosystem Area (KEE). This concept has sufficiently developed in the last 10 years, after the issuance of Government Regulation (PP) No. 28/2011. In this government regulation, the term KEE is referred to and regulated under one article (article 24).

Several initiatives have also been carried out, including the protection of karsts, such as karst in the District of Maros, South Sulawesi and Sangkulirang Mangkalihat Karst in the District of Berau, East Kalimantan (see diagram). Unfortunately, the amendment of the Conservation Law to include this concept has not yet been implemented.

The Ministerial Regulation proposal is still being discussed. Currently, the supporting regulations are still limited to regulation of the director general (Perdirjen), thus they are legally weak. However, unlike the Karst Landscape Area (KBAK), which is under the mandate of the Ministry of Energy and  Mineral Resources (ESDM), the issue of karst protection in this government regulation is returned to the main institution, namely the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

What is KEE

It is evidently stated in chapter 24, especially in the elucidation part. What is meant by “essential ecosystem areas” are karst ecosystems, wetlands (lakes, rivers, swamps, brackish and tidal areas not exceeding 6 (six) meters), mangroves, and peatlands outside nature reserve area (KSA) and nature conservation area (KPA).

In addition, it is also stated that the protection of KEE is implemented with the objectives of:

  1. Guaranteed ecological processes that support the survival of flora, fauna, and their ecosystems;
  2. Preserve, prevent, and restrict activities that may result in changes in the integrity of the potential and the areas as well as changes in the function of the areas, whether caused by humans, livestock, fire, nature, invasive species, pests, and diseases;
  3. Maintaining the rights of the state, community, and individuals to the potential, areas, ecosystems, investments, and tools related to the management of nature reserve area (KSA) and nature conservation area (KPA).
  4. Ensure the integrity of the potential, areas, and area functions.

The scope and objectives of KEE are indeed expansive. Many sectors and actors will be affected by this stipulation. Moreover, the current system of division of authority presents a fragmented resource management that makes the sectoral ego take root in each institution/ministry. Hence the authority that proposes it should be cross-border and cross-sectoral.

KEE and National Strategic Areas

One of the cross-border solutions is spatial planning. By observing the current spatial planning rules, KEE has actually been accommodated. The opportunity is through a space called a strategic area for reasons of environmental supportive capacity or a strategic area of ​​environmental interest (KS LH).

According to Government Regulation (PP) 26/2008, Government Regulation (PP) 15/2010, Regulation of Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning 1/2018, strategic areas from the point of view of the interest of environmental functions and supportive capacity have the following criteria: (a) is a place to protect biodiversity, (b) is a protected area that is established for the protection of ecosystems, flora and/or fauna that are almost extinct or are estimated to be extinct that must be protected and/or preserved, (c) provides protection for the equilibrium of the water balance which every year has the possibility to cause losses, (d) provides protection to the balance of the macro climate, (e) demands a high priority for the quality improvement of the environment, (f) has an activity center in a disaster-prone area and has natural disaster risks; and/or (g) is very decisive in changing the natural setting and has a broad impact on life survival.

All criteria in KS LH apply in KEE. Incorporating KEE into spatial planning, apart from breaking through the agencies’ sectoral ego, also has the advantage that the spatial law regime is already standardized and provides a clear mandate for each agency. In addition, the planning process is certainly accompanied by a budget so that the identification of the abovementioned criteria can be performed. Even institutionally, the proposal in this spatial plan is not only a District/City or Province monopoly. But it is also a national interest, which is called the National Strategic Area (KSN).

In the context of the Flores karst ecosystem, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) may propose this area as KSN LH. The main consideration is that this ecosystem has Komodo dragons which are not only a local treasure, but also a national and world treasure. To do this, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry conducts a study in advance to identify the criteria above. Furthermore, it will be proposed as a national strategic area to be established by the President.

Currently, KSN LH ranks second in terms of numbers, namely 25 KSNs, only two points different compared to the Economic KSN, which recorded as many as 27 KSNs. One of those that have been established is KSN Komodo. The reason for the establishment of the Komodo National Park is because in that area there are rare, ancient, and one-of-a-kind in the world land crocodile, Varanus komodoensis. The status is also attached to that one island.

Unfortunately, not many people know that the same animal lives on the northern part of Flores Island. The prestige is less famous than the Komodo Island that was found first. Their habitat is also threatened by a mining siege. One of them is a limestone quarry and a cement factory in the District of East Manggarai which has become a present polemic. If left unchecked, in the future it will set a precedent, not only destroying water sources for local communities, but it also eliminates the remnants of the history of life on earth. To prevent something like this from happening, the central government has to protect this area. It would be beneficial, for the same reason as KSN Komodo, if the government established a similar area in the northern part of West Flores.

The rationale is clearer because on July 16, 2019, the Head of the Natural Resources Conservation Center for NTT, Timbul Batubara, once stated that the Komodo dragons in Komodo National Park and Flores Island do not genetically show significant genetic differences. Differences in body shape and skin color occur due to different habitats. Therefore, what are we waiting for? The northern part of West Flores KSN must be established immediately.

*Bernadinus Steni, Chief Legal Officer of Kaleka

This article has been published on Mata News and can be seen at the following link: 


Essential Ecosystem Area (KEE) and Other Alternative Strategic Areas for Flores Karst Protection


Publication Year



KEE,  Biodiversity, National Strategic Areas.