Unlocking the potential of Seasonal Forests to underpin Wallacea's green economy

Exploring the plant diversity of the Lesser Sunda Islands to help create a framework for ecologically viable economic development.

Blue sky over a forest in Sumbawa

The forests of Wallacea in Indonesia are some of the world’s most biodiverse, yet little is known about them. They have huge potential to be effectively managed to support economic development.

The Lesser Sunda archipelago of Wallacea stretches from Bali to Timor. They are a chain of small islands with a unique flora and fauna that is at considerable risk of being lost due to expanding agriculture  mining and the changing climate. The islands’ human population  is characterized by low development and high poverty. As well as being threatened by stochastic natural events associated with being part of the geologically active Indonesian ‘ring of fire’ (frequent volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and landslides). This endangers the islands’ limited water catchment areas and water supplies.

This project is investigating Wallacea’s seasonal forests  in Sumbawa, Sumba and Flores, to assess how they will be affected by imminent environmental change and to evaluate their place in a future green economy. The project will create  resources to help land managers and local communities approach development with an understanding of what is both profitable and ecologically viable.


  • Understand how seasonal forests will respond to changes in climate and human activity
  • Explore how seasonal forests could form part of a green economic strategy
  • A map of the current extent of seasonal forest on Sumbawa, Sumba and Flores
  • A third of the species that are endemic to the Lesser Sunda Islands will be assessed for extinction risk
  • The response of seasonal forest and endemic species to climate change will be modelled
  • Endemic and useful species will be targeted for ex situ seed conservation
  • Increasing numbers of tourists are heading to Sumbawa, Sumba and Flores, to escape the crowds of Bali and Lombok. To help exploit this, we will identify areas of high ecotourism potential
  • A database of useful plant species will be built and their potential to form part of an economy under future climate scenarios assessed
  • The resilience of forests under different climate, human development and tourism scenarios will be determined 

Dr Himmah Rustiami (Herbarium Bogoriense)
Professor Endang Sukara (Universitas Surya)
Dr Michael Riwo Kaho (Universitas Nusa Cendana)