Research Article

Threats to the Spice Islands

Fred Smieta1

a1 c/o Project Kali Konto, Jalan Tugu 3, Malang, Indonesia.


The wildlife of the widely scattered islands that comprise the East Indonesian province of Maluku, formerly the Moluccas, is unique and immensely important scientifically. More than a quarter of the birds are endemic species, as well as nearly a fifth of the mammals, several reptiles and land snails and at least 25 butterflies. Seventy per cent of the islands is still untouched. But large-scale commercial logging is making increasing inroads on the forest of the north and central islands, and commercial overfishing and siltation due to the logging are affecting the sea. The Indonesian Directorate of Nature Conservation, assisted by FAO, is drawing up a conservation programme, in which the author is involved, which includes recommendations for a 180,000-ha national park on Seram Island and a 250,000-ha marine reserve in the Aru Islands.