Central Sulawesi


Land area 6,184,100 ha
Forested area 64% (4,400,000 ha)
Protected area 32% (2.2 million ha) including the:

Lore Lindu National Park (229,000 ha)

Morowali Conservation Park

Biodiversity significance The Lore Lindu National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Main economic activities
  • Agriculture sector (40%)
  • Fisheries, forestry and animal husbandry
  • Cacao and cash crop cultivation
Main threats to forest and peatlands
  • Logging
  • Mining for gold and nickel (42% of concessions are on primary forest)
  • Palm oil plantations
  • Cacao and clove agroforestry

tangkoko rain forest

Tangkoko rainforest in Sulawesi


Sulawesi Island, shaped like the letter ‘k’, is mainly comprised of four main peninsulas with little contiguous mainland area. Central Sulawesi constitutes most of the northern end, and the largest area, of the island. It meets halfway inland with West, South and Southeast Sulawesi. An arch of island branches up and around to meet the province of Gorontalo, carving a bay out of the Golf of Tomini. The two provinces share the northernmost peninsula of the island, where various active volcanoes are situated. Much of the province is covered by mountains and volcanic cones.


14 different forest ecosystems can be found across Sulawesi, containing a unique mix of Asian and Australasian flora and fauna. Over 60% of mammals and one third of birds found in Sulawesi are endemic, and in the Lore Lindu National Park 77 bird species are found nowhere else on Earth. The Morowali Nature Reserve also protects important marine ecosystems and provides a water catchment for five major rivers. There is more than 100,000 ha of lake area in protected zones across Central Sulawesi, including Lake Poso, Indonesia’s third largest lake. The lake is three times deeper than Java Sea, housing hundreds of unique and endangered fish species and providing a water supply for various communities. Due to the jagged topography of the province, forests also play a crucial role in maintaining soil quality and water flow.


Agriculture is the livelihood of 60% of the Central Sulawesi population. Smallholder farmers have traditionally produced rice but the province experienced a boom in cacao production during the last decade. After cacao, coconut, clove, coffee, nutmeg, and soy are among common cash crops. Fish ponds and shrimp aquaculture are popular livelihoods for communities living in coastal regions.

Mining activity has lagged in Central Sulawesi compared to South and West Sulawesi. Mining companies are increasingly taking interest in nickel, gold, diamond and sulphur reserves in the province, causing a 35% growth in the mining sector in 2011. However due to the high quality timber found in Central Sulawesi’s high altitude forest, logging has remained a prominent sector of the province’s economy.

Threats to forest and biodiversity

80% of forest across Sulawesi Island has been degraded or deforested and Central Sulawesi continues to lose 16,740 ha of forest a year. This is largely due to the fact that only 20% of production forest is on empty land, and 45% is on primary forest. Of 1.5 million ha of land allocated to mining concessions, 42% of it is on primary forest, and over 500,000 ha of primary forest has been converted into timber plantations or felled. 72,000 ha of land is also under decree for estate crops. Swamp forests and mangrove forests have suffered the worst out of all types of ecosystems, with only 5% of lowland and mangrove forest remaining undisturbed. Due to conversion to aquaculture, a large amount of mangrove forests along the coasts of the province have been deforested.

Deforestation has alarming consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem health. Due to the hilly terrain in Central Sulawesi the land is particularly vulnerable to erosion when there is significant land change. Furthermore, reports of lowering water levels in Lake Lindu have been attributed to surrounding deforestation.

rice fields

Rice fields replacing mangrove forests in Sulawesi