Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Cirebon
The number of natural springs at Mount Ciremai, the highest mountain in West Java, has shrunk, sparking activists to call on the government to stop deforestation in the area.
Activist Yoyon Suharyono of the Workers and Environment Foundation in Cirebon blamed the declining numbers of springs on rapid deforestation within the Mount Ciremai National Park area.
"There are only 164 springs left in the mountain, a sharp decline from 430 in 1998," he said.
The remaining 164 springs are found in 17 districts in Kuningan regency.
The head of the Mount Ciremai Conservation Working Group, Avo Juhartono, blamed the rapid deforestation on widespread forest fires during the dry season.
He also blamed the worsening situation on farmers clearing land and illegal sand mining within the national park.
He estimated more than 2,000 hectares out of a total 15,518 hectares of protected park had been damaged.
"We estimate that forest destruction will continue if the government does nothing about it. Destruction within the park has also meant a sharp decline in the number of springs," Avo said.
He said the declining number of springs could potentially cause a shortage of clean water in nearby areas.
The springs, he said, supply clean drinking water to Cirebon, Kuningan and Majalengka regencies.
The springs also supply water for rice fields in the rice-producing regencies of Majalengka, Indramayu, Kuningan and Cirebon, as well as supplying water to Darma dam.
The 3,078-meter high Mount Ciremai, which stretches across Kuningan and Majalengka regencies, was declared a national park in 2004.