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By Annisa Aliviani

Sugai Hitam, Taman NasionalSebangau, Kalimantan Tengah. Foto : Jeje Siahaan/Latin

Have you ever imagined swimming in a black river while exploring the uniqueness of what you will find behind the black water? The question is not just an illusion, the name is Sungai Koran, located in the Sebangau National Park area, Central Kalimantan. This national park is located between the Katingan River and the Sebangau River. It has an area of about 568,700 hectares which is dominated by peat swamp forest area, this is what is widely known by the public as a special black water ecosystem. The unique color of the black water arises from the high content of tannins (tannins). The content of tannins is a substance derived from organic materials such as litter, twigs and wood that are dissolved in rainwater and then inundated in peat swamps so that the water in the river turns blackish brown. Answering the question at the beginning, this river with a depth of 1-17 meters can be swam. But be careful, because the Black River is home to 54 types of snakes and various reptiles.

Before being established as a national park, the Sebangau area was a production forest managed by several companies in the form of Forest Concession Rights (HPH). Illegal logging was rampant after the end of the HPH in the Sebangau National Park area. However, currently, illegal logging activities in Sebangau National Park have dimmed. Some people who originally did illegal logging in this area have turned to develop other potentials by obtaining management rights from the local government and the local tourism office, as well as the involvement of the Sebangau National Park and Non-Governmental Organizations in assisting the economic and social development of the community. Of course, this provides a breath of fresh air for the sustainability of the forest and opportunities for the people around the area to develop. The average community depends on fishermen and farmers by utilizing the natural potential and unique diversity of the Black River area in various ways.

With the designation of the Sebagau National Park area as an ecotourism area, it provides opportunities for the community to develop economic potential as business opportunities, including providing lodging services, transportation, restaurants, tour guides, selling souvenirs, or souvenirs, and others. Many local and long-distance tourists visit this area, thus opening access for the community to create a wider relationship. Moreover, at this time the interest in urban tourism to return to nature is increasing, of course, it has the potential to develop ecotourism, especially to increase the economy of the Black River community.

Nelayan Sugai Hitam, Taman Nasional Sebangau, Kalimantan Tengah. Foto : Jeje Siahaan/Latin

There are many ways to reach the waters of the Black River, one of which is by renting a Kelotok (a type of motorboat) which has been provided as one of the livelihoods of the local community. By issuing a pocket of Rp. 500,000 for one rental, kelotok can be filled by three visitors and accompanied by two guides. Visitors can visit the black river for 3-4 hours with a unique welcome from various exotic animals such as orangutans, sun bears, long-tailed monkeys, or some of the 182 species of birds in Sebangau National Park. Besides being greeted by various types of animals, the trip will be presented with community activities as fishermen who are fishing using long hooks, this view will often be seen when exploring the Black River. Fish that often look like cages, toman, haruan, and other types. The community believes that fish in Sebangau will remain abundant as long as fishermen do not pollute the river, for that the river becomes the main livelihood area for the Black River community.

The black river has become the original habitat of several types of plants, one of which is Rasau. Pandan plant species with sharp thorny leaves and stems. This plant dominates the Sungai Koran area in Sebangau National Park, its presence gives the sensation of being through a maze. When passing through the “labyrinth” of rasau, visitors often have to look down or protect their faces so as not to scratch their sharp thorns. Unfortunately, until now the use of the rasau plant is still very little, some people use the leaves to make a kind of woven mat, but it is not very popular in the market because of its less durable resistance. Besides the rasau plant, there are several other types of plants that are processed by the community, namely utilizing non-timber forest products (NTFPs) such as rattan, medicinal plants and jelutung sap.

In addition to presenting the charm of the “labyrinth” of rasau, there are certain places that are closely related to the culture of the people of Central Kalimantan, who are mostly Dayaks. The Dayak tribe is one of the tribes who live around the forest and depend on the sustainability of the forest.

The pattern of life of the Sungai Hitam community towards the forest reminds us that the goal of social forestry is to preserve the forest, resolve conflicts, improve community welfare, and move the local economy. The success of peat forest management with community involvement in Sebangau National Park has attracted many parties, be it local, national, and international parties. The hope is that the Air Hitam River area can trigger the presence of village forests or other community forests (HKm) in Indonesia, especially in Central Kalimantan.

Saturday, February 13, 2021