OUR LAST DEFENSE OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION
Mountains are the remaining landscape that still considerably hold its natural characteristics under vast urban development in an island like Java. Thus, these patchy natural ecosystem become our last barrier to sustain the stability of environmental health in Java. Here, we highlight two critical functions of mountain ecosystem as the last habitat for biodiversity and main source of water and food for human.
LAST HOME FOR BIODIVERSITY AND THREATENED SPECIES
More than 20 threatened and protected species relying on mountain habitat to escape from extinction including last big predator in Java, Javan Leopard. It is only 8.9% of forests in Java are suitably left for habitat of this critically endangered species and mostly in mountain regions (see the report here). The lists also include many threatened and endemic species namely Javan Lutung, Javan gibbon, Javan surili, Java mouse-deer, Sunda porcupine, Pangolin, Hystrix javanica, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Javan Flameback, Greater Green Leafbird and many more. Mountains are unique ecosystems in which the combination of geographical constrains, species and habitats, adaptation patterns creates a unique biodiversity richness and endemicity. For example in Lawu Mountain, as a transitional area of eastern and western Java, Lawu has Dendrobium jacobsonii (Orchids) and Rhinocypha anisoptera (Damselfly) that are typical to eastern Java, but are not found in West Java and vice versa. This condition makes mountains ecosystem is extremely fragile. Little significant changes could affect the whole wildlife community.
Providing water and food
The strategic roles of the mountain ecosystem services are not doubted, not only the ecological role but also economic role because of the multipurpose benefits of ecosystem. As ‘‘water towers,’’ mountains supply water to nearly half the human population, including some regions far from mountains, and mountain agriculture provides subsistence for about half a billion people. In Java it self, about more than 70 millions people rely on mountains for water and food. Key mountain resources and services include water for hydroelectricity, flood control, mineral resources, timber, and medicinal plants. The other services include disaster risk reduction, preservation of biodiversity including agro-biodiversity, and space for recreation and tourism. In many mountain areas, tourism is a special form of highland-lowland interaction and forms the backbone of regional as well as national economies. Their ecological integrity is key to the safety of settlements and transport routes.