This is the list of the national parks of Indonesia. Of all the national parks, 6 are World Heritage Sites, 6 are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and 3 are wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar convention. A total of 9 parks are largely marine. The first group of five Indonesian national parks were established in 1980. This number increased constantly reaching 41 in 2003. In a major expansion in 2004, nine more new national parks were created, raising the total number to 50.
The Gunung Palung National Park lies in the province West Kalimantan and is 90,000 ha. The park comprises a large variety of habitats. Around the mountains Gunung Palung (1,116 m) and Gunung Panti you'll find untouched mountain forests. At the coast there are beach and mangrove forests and in between peat and freshwater swamp forests and lowland rainforests are to be found. At Gabang Panti is a research station established by Harvard University but you can't visit it.
The park is notable for its diversity of habitat types, ranging from mangrove and freshwater swamp forest, to lowland alluvial (empran bench) forest, to montane forest, and for its diversity of wildlife. It is one of only a handful of parks in the world where orangutans can be seen in the wild. A research station (Cabang Panti) was established at the western foot of the main Gunung Palung mountains in 1985, and is owned and operated by the park management authority. Research there has contributed significantly to our understanding of Borneo forest biology.
Illegal, non-mechanized, 'hand logging' has been a problem in the park, especially from ca. 2000-2003. Recent initiatives by park authorities and NGOs (increased policing, monitoring by microlight, educational activities) have contributed to a reduction of illegal activities. The park was one of the key sites of the EU-funded Illegal Logging Response Center (ILRC, now continued in FLEGT). The Park has enormous potential for ecotourism, and has a number of attractive sites for visitors.
The orangutan is considered the umbrella species for conservation in the National Park, and is also an important ecological agent for seed dispersal and seed predation. It is believed that orangutans at Gunung Palung constitute one of the most dense and largest populations on Borneo. A census conducted in 2001, part-funded by The Orangutan Conservancy, gives an estimate of 2500 individual orangutans, about 17% of the estimated population in Borneo and close to 10% of the world’s population.
In 1985 Dr. Mark Leighton established the Cabang Panti Research Camp deep within the National Park. Cabang Panti, encompassing 2100 hectares, currently houses a number of research projects including the Gunung Palung Orangutan Project, established in 1994 by Dr. Cheryl Knott. This project integrates scientific research about orangutan biology and ecology with conservation programs aimed at the preservation of this endangered species and its habitat. Cheryl Knott is working with Tim Laman in conducting scientific investigation of the factors governing orangutan reproduction and population viability, increasing awareness on the local level to encourage support for conservation of the park and community education around the park and capacity-building for National Park Office staff.
In the last decade there has been a great increase in the amount of illegal logging within this national park. This, in conjunction with the fires raging across the Indonesian rainforests, made immediate conservation action in this area of paramount importance. The Gunung Palung Orangutan Protection Plan was initiated to address the threat to orangutans and their habitat.
Gunung Palung National Park is one of the least accessible national parks on Kalimantan. You can reach the park in two ways. For both you need a lot of time and money. However, when you love to be off the beaten track, the journey to the park should be an adventure in itself. Be prepared for the ghosts you meet on the way. From Pontianak take a boat or plain to Ketapang, where you have to hire some kind of transportation to Sukadana. In Sukadana hire a boat for the last 10 hrs! to the park.
Take a minibus to Rasau from Manara station in Pontianak (1,5 hr.). From Rasau catch a longboat to Teluk Melano. This journey will take 5-10 hours, depending on the boat you take. It is possible to reach Teluk Melano by boat, directly from Pontianak, but this journey will take 10-20 hours. In Teluk Melano hire a boat to Simanjak from where you have to travel the last stretch by canoe or klotok.
There is no official tourist accomodation inside the park, but you can probably sleep in the several KSDA offices. Visit the KSDA office in Pontianak before you go and make arrangements. An other possibility is to sleep in the kampung at the border of the park. Register at the kepala desa of the kampung.