Human

Treasure Island

 By Simonetta Sandri

On the occasion of the World Environment Day promoted by the United Nations programme for the Environment (UN Environment) on June 5th, we decided to celebrate the company’s first Environmental Day. On this event, during which we also celebrate the 2017 Safety Day, we want to reward the behaviors and actions of Eni’s people who are most valued in terms of contributing to the prevention and minimization of impacts of Eni’s activities to the environment and ecosystems in general. The awards are assigned to the “best performer” for each business unit, based on the quantitative results achieved in the past year and to the project that, more than any other, is a best practice of environmental management. With an eye to sustainability as a whole. VICO Indonesia (consortium between Eni 50% and Saka Energi 50%), has been granted this award, let’s see for what, how and why.

This year, the World Environment Day is dedicated to protected areas, and UN Environment’s initiatives will be aimed at informing on over 200,000 land areas and 15,000 protected marine areas in the world, to meet the target on the expansion of terrestrial protected areas to 17%, by 2020. Protecting an area is critical to ensuring the integrity of its natural and human heritage; preserving its biodiversity contributes to the preservation of plant and animal species and prevents the progressive cultural, economic and social impoverishment of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Thoughtful of UN Environment’s message, with the awareness that a good percentage of Eni’s operations involve or are close to protected areas, this year we have rewarded the most significant project for contributing to the preservation of ecosystems in high biodiversity areas where Eni operates, namely the Ridge 2 Reef (R2R) project, belonging to the subsidiary VICO Indonesia.

What does R2R mean? It is a holistic approach made up of multifunctional actions for the protection of environmental and natural resources in priority basins and the coastal areas connected. Complementary actions in each focal area – from the mountains downstream to the rivers and estuaries and further down towards coastal mangroves, seagrass meadows and coral reefs – promote a truly integrated approach to the management of biological diversity and other natural resources protecting the environment.

With that approach, in Indonesia, over the last two years, VICO has been able to take targeted and concrete actions to ensure the protection of a highly ecological, sensitive and complex habitat, such as that of the Indonesian Borneo, not because it is required by laws, local regulations, compensation agreements or other constraints and obligations, but thanks to an approach towards the territory based on sustainable integration. And respect, by knowing and understanding it.

R2R project included multifunctional actions for the protection of environmental and natural resources in priority basins and the coastal areas connected

The habitat mentioned is characterized by a dynamic interconnection between the existing ecosystems, which brings to the importance of implementing synergistic actions through the described R2R, which concerned the upstream woodlands, the mangrove forest and the downstream coral reef, in the area around VICO’s operating activities (East Kalimantan). An approach that goes from upstream to downstream, analogically speaking, in other words from the mountains to the sea.

The project consisted in planting, between November 2014 and December 2015, 600 Ulin trees (Eusideroxylon swageri), in an area of ​​1 hectare (a reforestation intervention that had a significant role also in the orangutan conservation programs. These animals are a kind of red-haired monkeys living in the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, whose scientific classification is Pongo, as it creates a suitable environment for their reintroduction), in planting 24,800 mangroves in a 15-hectare coastal area, allocation of 40 towers of concrete for the regeneration of coral reefs in an area of ​​6 hectares.

Ulin trees are an endemic species of Borneo, of long-lasting and durable wood (ironwood), large in size and typical in humid tropical forests that grows and develops naturally in some areas of Indonesia, such as the Jambi province of Sumatra, in Bangka Belitung and Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo Island. The wood of this tree, precious for its quality and beauty, is very much sought after. Along with ebony (Diospyros celebica) and champaca (Michelia champaca), these plants are subject to great pressure (the latter, in particular, for the use of her flowers in perfumery and in the preparation of essential oils). In natural forests, Ulin, ebony and champaca are today increasingly difficult to be found, so these specimens are now only in national parks, in protected forests, in forestry areas. For this reason, they are currently classified as in risk of extinction, as threatened species (IUCN 2.3). Many efforts are needed, including government policies related to the management, use, maintenance and planting of these trees in their natural habitat (in situ conservation) and outside their natural habitat (ex-situ conservation) to maintain the sustainability of these species. Ulin’s natural, ebony and champaca trees in protected forests, national parks and primary forests must be maintained as germplasm, seeds and mother plants.

The area of ​​the delta of the Mahakam River (760 km long, also known as Kutai basin, located on the island of Borneo and flowing through the province of Kalimantan Orientale), where VICO, which operates here, implemented the second part of the project consisting in the plantation of 24,800 mangrove trees, is characterized by extensive intrusion (and expansion) of marine water, difficulties in finding clean water, floods, lack of endemic flora and fauna, rapid increase in upstream sediment, whitening of coral reefs and poor knowledge of the importance of the ecosystems.

A reforestation intervention that had a significant role also in the orangutan conservation programs. These animals are a kind of red-haired monkeys living in the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra

After the plantation of the mangroves, the project intervened on the coral reef, installing at Pangempang, with the help of 11 young certified divers from the youth community of Karang Taruna from Tanjung Limau, 40 towers of concrete to encourage the creation of new coral reefs.

Since the start of the project, indigenous communities have been involved with the active participation in plantation and care of the vegetation, including specific training and communication activities, in terms of spreading ecological knowledge. The future direct impacts to the economy will be relevant: over time, the local community will benefit from tourism activities linked to the improvement of the ecosystem’s biodiversity and the increased fish production due to the regeneration of the coral reef. Continuity and durability are assured if you think that the end of the project, activities will be continued by local communities, thereby ensuring its sustainability in the long run.

the project intervened on the coral reef, installing at Pangempang 40 towers of concrete to encourage the creation of new coral reefs.

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Simonetta Sandri