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Banyuasin Musi River Delta

Location:
2°00'-2°30'S, 104°30'-105°15'E; the coastal area between the Sembilang River and Kuala Saleh, Sumatra Selatan Province, Sumatra.

Area:
150,000-200,000 ha of mangrove habitat.

Altitude:
0-0.5m.

Biogeographical Province:
4.21.12.

Wetland type:
06, 07 & 21.

Description of site:
The very large delta system of the Banyuasin and Musi Rivers and numerous smaller rivers and mangrove creeks. The area comprises some of the most extensive mangrove forests in Sumatra, with intact transitions to freshwater and peat swamp forests. There are vast areas of intertidal mudflats along the coast, some of which are more than one km wide at lowest low tide. The area is under heavy pressure from reclamation activities, and a large part of the swamp forest has already been reclaimed. The peninsula between the Sembilang and Banyuasin Rivers is one of the most important areas for waterfowl in Indonesia, with thousands of large waterbirds and tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds. The many small villages built on poles on the coastal mudflats are very characteristic of this region. There are also a few larger coastal villages. The long term average coastal accretion rate is estimated at about lOOm per year. The soil consists of unripe clays (entisols) and peat; the clays often consist of potential acid sulphate soils. The tidal amplitude is about 2.0-2.5m.

Climatic conditions:
Humid tropical climate, with an average annual rainfall of 2,300 mm. The region is influenced by the northwest monsoon from November to February.

Principal vegetation:
Mangrove forests. More than 30 species of mangrove are known to occur; the main species are Rhizophora mucronata, R. apiculata, Avicennia alba, A. marina, Sonneratia alba, S. acida, Ceriops tagal, C. candoleana and Xylocarpus spp. There are also some extensive swamps of Nypa fruticans. Inland, the mangroves and nipa swamps give way to freshwater swamp forests, peat swamp forests and grassy marshes where the forest has been burned or logged.

Land tenure:
The wetlands are state owned (Government of Indonesia); surrounding areas are owned by the local authorities and local farmers.

Conservation measures taken:
None

Conservation measures proposed:
Silvius (1986) has proposed that the area between the Sembilang River and Banyuasin River (the Banyuasin Peninsula) be designated as a Nature Reserve. The administrative procedure to designate the area as reserve was initiated in late 1986. The reserve would cover an area of about 70,000 ha.

Land use:
Fisheries and small-scale logging of mangrove poles; fisheries and agriculture in surrounding areas.

Possible Changes in Land use:
Several areas have been proposed for transmigration projects, including part of the Banyuasin Peninsula. If these plans are carried out, most of the mangrove forest will be lost, including important breeding areas for the Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea and many other large waterbirds. Hardjowigeno and Situmorang (1987) have recently reviewed the impact of the transmigration programme on the mangrove ecosystem in the Banyuasin Musi Delta. Most of the freshwater swamp forests and peat swamp forests in the water catchment area have been or are being reclaimed or logged.

Disturbances and threats:
The major threats to the area are reclamation for official transmigration projects, reclamation by spontaneous transmigrants, logging of the mangrove forest, human disturbance at the breeding colonies of large waterbirds, and forest fires. The population of Estuarine Crocodiles Crocodylus porosus has already been almost exterminated by hunting.

Economic and social values:
The mangrove forest is extremely important for the local fishing industry which thrives largely on the shrimps and prawns which use the mangrove as nursery and breeding areas. The fishery industry is rapidly increasing in the area. The fishing villages are constructed mainly of timber taken from the mangrove forest and freshwater swamp forest. Tree species commonly used in the construction include Meranti (Shorea), Nibung (Oncosperma) and Bakau (Rhizophora). The mudflats may have a high potential for the cockle industry.

Fauna:
The mangrove forests are important breeding and nursery grounds for many species of marine fishes, prawns and shrimps. The area is one of the most important sites for waterfowl in Indonesia. Eighteen species of large waterbirds and 20 species of migratory shorebirds have been recorded. The area is presumed to contain the largest breeding colony of the Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea in the world. it is the only area in southeast Asia with a population of Spot-billed Pelicans Pelecanus philippensis; an immature observed in 1986 suggests that the birds are breeding in the area. It has the highest population of Lesser Adjutants Leptoptilos javanicus known in Indonesia. The endangered White-winged Wood-Duck Cairina scutulata occurs in the swamp forests behind the mangroves. The Grey Heron Ardea cinerea is known to breed in the area; the Great Egret Egretta alba probably breeds along with several other large waterbirds such as the Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus. Because of the difficulties of access, much of the area is still relatively untouched. A few fishermen collected some eggs and young of large waterbirds in 1982-1984, but the main breeding colonies of herons, egrets, storks and ibises have not as yet been located by biologists.The highest counts of large waterbirds obtained during surveys of the Banyuasin Peninsula in October 1984, July 1985 and March 1986 were as follows:
Pelecanus phhlippensis 9 Anhinga melanogaster 7
Egretta garzetta 48 E. sacra 12
E. intermedia 12 E. alba 2,414
Ardea cinerea 90 A. sumatrana 3
Mycteria cinerea 1,550 Leptoptilos javanicus 620
Threskiornis melanocephalus 607 Dendrocygna javanica 1,000

Counts of shorebirds on the Banyuasin Peninsula in October 1984, July 1985 and March 1986 gave totals of 37,900, 35,500 and 14,500, respectively. The highest numbers of each species recorded were as follows:
Pluvialis squatarola 100 P. dominica 6
Charadrius mongolus 9,460 C. leschenaultii 145
Limosa limosa 30,000 L. lapponica 7,000
Numenius phaeopus 700 N. arquata 1,965
N. madagascariensis 372 Tringa totanus 6,000
T. stagnatilis 100 T. nebularia 106
Xenus cinereus 3,500 Actitis hypoleucos 50
Arenaria inlerpres 500 Limnodromus semipalmatus 1,760-2,260
Calidris canulus 5 C. tenuirostris 66
C. ruficollis 100 C. ferruginea 700

Birds of prey recorded during the survey in July 1985 included 113 Haliastur indus, 12 Haliaeetus leucogaster and three Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus.

Mammals known to occur include Tiger, Leopard Cat, Common Otter, Wild Boar, Bearded Pig, Sambar, Long-tailed Macaque, Pig-tailed Macaque, Silvered Leaf Monkey and Otter-Civet (Panthera tigris, Felis bengalensis, Lutra luira, Sus scrofa, S. barbazus, Cervus unicolor, Macace fascicularis, M. nemestrina, Presbytis cristata and Cynogale bennettii).

The Estuarine Crocodile Crocodylus porosus is still present, although now in greatly reduced numbers as a result of intensive hunting pressure. The turtle Chitra indica is known to occur, and several other species such as Pelochelys bibronii may occur.
The delta is one of the richest areas for crustaceans in Indonesia.

Special floral values:
The mangrove forest is very rich in species. The freshwater swamp and peat swamp forests contain many commercially valuable tree species.

Research and facilities:
The vegetation has been surveyed by Sukristiyono Sukardjo and others (1979 & 1984), and several waterbird surveys have been carried out by ICBP and Interwader since 1983.

References:
Danielson & Skov (1986 & 1987); Hardjowigeno & Situmorang (1987); Karpowica (1985); Silvius (1986); Silvius et al. (1986); Sukardjo (1979); Sukardjo et al. (1984).

Criteria for Inclusion:
123.

Source:
Marcel J. Silvius.