East Nusa Tenggara Province has a rich variety of biodiversity. Starting from the beauty of the island, marine tourism, and mountainous areas with a variety of unique flora and fauna in it. Unfortunately, this natural wealth is still less famous than the Komodo dragon and Labuan Bajo, two mainstay icons of world tourism in East Nusa Tenggara.
The regional government of East Nusa Tenggara is trying to introduce more natural tourism potentials apart from Labuan Bajo and Komodo Island National Park. One of them is a natural stand tourism object in the form of a green forest containing thousands of hundreds of years old ampupu or Eucalyptus urophylla trees.
These ampupu lines form a green canopy no more than 2-5 meters high with the characteristic roots and stems of large and curved bulges like a dancer. At first glance, this ampupu plant seems to have undergone a dwarfing or bonsai process. The branches of the tree stick out in contact with other ampupu trees and have small leaves. In extreme conditions, the ampupu tree can only grow in the form of shrubs no more than 2 meters high.
This ampupu bonsai forest exists in Timor, an island at the eastern tip of East Nusa Tenggara, with an area of 30,777 square kilometers. This bonsai forest containing ampupu trees is precisely located in Fatumnasi Village, Fatumnasi District, South Central Timor Regency. For the people of Dawan, the indigenous tribe who inhabit the Fatumnasi area, the bonsai forest is called the akuna. Fatumnasi Village is located at an altitude of 1,480 meters above sea level and has an exotic view of marble hills interspersed with green pastures where horses, cows and Timor deer forage for food.
The village with a bonsai forest collection is included in the Mutis Nature Reserve area of 12,315.61 ha according to the Decree of the Minister of Forestry number 3911 / MENHUT-VII / KUH / 2014 dated May 14, 2014 concerning Forest Area and Marine Conservation in East Nusa Tenggara Province. Mutis Nature Reserve is located in two districts, namely South Central Timor and North Central Timor. There is Mount Mutis, a volcano with an altitude of 2,427 meters.
The Fatumnasi bonsai forest can be reached from the East Nusa Tenggara capital city in Kupang by land route to Soe City, the capital of South Central Timor Regency, as far as 110 km in a 2-3 hour drive. Then from Soe we head to the small town of Kapan in North Mollo District, 20 km away, before ending in Fatumnasi about 17 km later.
On the way from Soe to Fatumnasi we can stop for a moment at Kilometer 12, which is a small green hill with a beautiful view on the edge of the Soe and Kapan lines. From Km 12, we can see the hills and valleys as well as Mount Mutis which is in the Mutis Nature Reserve. Travel time for Soe-Fatumnasi is about two hours with fairly smooth road conditions on the Soe-Kapan section.
However, from Kapan to enter Fatumnasi Subdistrict, the road conditions leave a rocky ground like when we crossed Ajaobaki, Tunua, and Kuanoel Villages. Roads like this will be difficult to cross by vehicles, especially in the rainy season because they are muddy. The potholes continued until the entrance to the Mutis Nature Reserve.
The location of the bonsai forest is only one kilometer from the entrance gate with rocky road conditions. We also have to cross a small stream in order to reach the bonsai forest. Don’t forget to bring enough supplies because there are no food stalls in this bonsai forest.
Mutis Nature Reserve with Mount Mutis and its surrounding area is the wettest area on Timor Island because it has an average annual rainfall of 2,000-3,000 millimeters (mm). This condition is quite high when compared to other areas on the island of Timor, which range from 800-1,000 mm per year.
The length of the wet month is up to 7 months with a frequency of rain occurring from November to July, making the temperature in the nature reserve and bonsai forest averaging 14-29 degrees Celsius with the extreme temperature reaching 9 degrees Celsius.
The humidity produced as the wettest area on the island of Timor has caused the beard moss species (Usnea sp.) To thrive on the stumps of the ampupu plant in the bonsai forest. In addition, even though during the day, a light blanket of fog always stops by this conservation area. The sun rays hitting the mist and the old tree trunk no more than 5 meters high, brought out a beautiful silhouette of light.
This condition has provoked people outside Fatumnasi Village to visit and have a tour to enjoy the coolest area in East Nusa Tenggara.
According to the East Nusa Tenggara Natural Resources Conservation Center, ampupu trees can also be found in small numbers on the island of Flores, Wetar, and other areas such as Adonara, Lomblen and Pantar. However, the largest ampupu vegetation is found in the Mutis Nature Reserve in Fatumnasi, with characteristics not found in other regions.
It is not only ampupu that colors the beauty of the Mutis Nature Reserve because there are other plants typical of the highlands such as iron hau (Ilex odorata), tune (Podocarpus imbricata), ajaob (Casuarina aquisetifolia), hau solalu (Podocarpus pilgeri).
The presence of an ampupu bonsai forest covering an area of no more than one hectare in Fatumnasi can be a favorite alternative for natural tourism not only for South Central Timor Regency, but also for the Province of East Nusa Tenggara because of its uniqueness that is not found in other regions in Indonesia.
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