PRESS RELEASE

THE NATIONAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION AGENCY

NO.: 029/SP/HM/BKPUK/III/2022

 

Batanta Island is one of four major islands in Raja Ampat Regency, located about 34 kilometers west of Sorong City. The island has various types of ecosystems that are still very natural. This is interesting to study, in addition to the local wisdom of the indigenous people in utilizing the plants growing around them.

 

Purwodadi, BRIN Public Relations. The study team from the West Papua Natural Resources Conservation Center (BBKSDA), coordinated by Reza Saputra in collaboration with Destario Metusala, a researcher from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), has conducted an inventory study of orchid diversity and the potential use of diversified plants by indigenous people on Batanta Island, West Papua. The study has been carried out since mid-March 2022.

Reza Saputra explained that Batanta Island has various types of ecosystems that are still very natural, ranging from coastal ecosystems, tropical rain forests, lowlands, to lower mountain forests at an altitude of about 1,100 meters above sea level. The western part of Batanta Island serves as conservation area called ​the West Batanta Nature Reserve which functions for research activities and protection of biodiversity and its ecosystem. “Botanical research on Batanta Island is still relatively rare,” he said.

Reza added that the team explored only a limited range of areas, but managed to discover around 90 orchid species. Some are still in the identification process to confirm their species names. While some others were found in a condition without flowers on. “Orchid specimens without flowers must be nurtured until they flower so that they can be further identified accurately,” explained Reza.

From the results of interim study, the research team has discovered various interesting findings. One of them is the discovery of a new record of orchid species, Dendrobium cuneatum, in Papua region. BRIN researcher, Destario Metusala explained that this greenish mini-flowered orchid was previously found only in the Sulawesi and Maluku regions. “The discovery of this species on Batanta Island (Papua region) will be further information about its natural distribution range, which turns out to pass through the Wallacea zone and reach the Australasia biogeographic zone,” he explained.

In addition, the team has also found root orchid, Taeniophyllum torricellense, which was previously only found in two locations, namely San Cristobal Island in the Solomon Islands and the Torricelli Mountains in Papua New Guinea. The team also found the epiphytic orchid, Dendrobium incumbens, which previously had only been recorded from two locations in Papua New Guinea, namely the Sepik and Morobe districts. These two locations are very far from Batanta Island in West Papua. The discovery of Taeniophyllum toricellense and Dendrobium incumbens orchids will increase the number of orchid species diversity in Indonesia.

The team conducted not only inventory of orchids, but also observed and recorded various efforts to utilize plant species by local indigenous people. This is an initial guide for further studies related to the potential of biodiversity on Batanta Island. “The results of temporary observation show that a total of more than 100 types of plants are used by the indigenous people for various purposes, ranging from medicine, local food, clothing, traditional ceremonies, crafts, house equipment, buildings, to materials for making boats,” said Reza.

On the other hand, Destario added various plant samples that were collected and recorded using the local names, the Batanta/Batta language. The team will further identify the plants to find out their scientific names, thus facilitating a more in-depth study. This research has a high urgency value, considering the limited number of Batanta tribal communities who generally live in the southern area of ​​Batanta Island, precisely in three villages; Yenanas, Waiman and Wailebet.

The local wisdom of indigenous peoples in utilizing the surrounding plants needs to be documented so that this knowledge will not go extinct. Moreover, the local wisdom is generally more controlled by the elderly people and is largely unknown to the younger generation. An example of the local wisdom of the Batanta indigenous people is the use of the “wil-gelfun” plant (Coscinium fenestratum) which grows wild in the forest and is used for traditional treatment of malaria, eye pain, digestive disorders, and fatigue. “Teliih” plant (Terminalia catappa) which grows wild on the coastal areas is used to treat open wounds, digestive disorders, and diarrhea,” concluded Destario.