During our trip to Sulawesi in September 2022, we spent few days around Lake Poso. Our companion there was Eko (Kurniawan Bandjolu), local naturalist from Institut Mosintuwu. We also visited the beautiful home of the Institut Mosintuwu and I was charmed by the atmosphere: a meeting of elders from villages, the Lake Poso Guardian Community, was taking place there. And they even have several aquariums with endemic fish and snails on display!

Next evening, after snorkelling in the lake, I talked with Lian Gogali about the ways we can collaborate. Lian founded Institut Mosintuwu in 2009 after the terrible experience of violent conflict between ethnical and religious groups in the Poso region. Institut Mosintuwu is a grassroots community focused mainly on social problems and challenges, but their range of activities and interests is wide. The lake is important to the community, so its biodiversity became part of the Mosintuwu program. They are trying to achieve the recognition of Lake Poso as a geopark due to its rich biodiversity, geological wealth and cultural uniqueness.

This is what Lian says about Mosintuwu concern about biodiversity in the lake: “In the last five years, Lake Poso has been threatened by hydropower electricity activities that have exploited Lake Poso as a dam. As a result, biodiversity is threatened with destruction and even extinction, and the social, economic and cultural life of the people living around Lake Poso is disrupted. In fact, for the Poso people, Lake Poso is not just a collection of water, but a form of life. In the local language, the third person pronoun for Lake Poso is sira which means he (not it). Communities around Lake Poso also often use the names of biota endemic to Lake Poso as a clan names.

We are proud to announce that Institut Mosintuwu is our new partner and we have a plan to work together in the long term. Our main goals are:

  • collect and disseminate knowledge about the aquatic biota of Lake Poso and related threats
  • further develop the aquatic mini museum and its educational potential
  • encourage student interest: we call this program “Biodiversity Goes to School”
  • develop the Natural Laboratory and Research Center for Lake Poso Aquatic Biota
  • invite more people to be interested in conducting studies and actions and advocating for biodiversity
  • encourage the development of sustainable ecotourism with need to maintain biodiversity

This is not a program for one year, but we have already started the work! We will be surely bringing more details and updates from Lake Poso. At this moment, we are really happy to collaborate with the Mosintuwu community – people who care about their environment and understand that future of Lake Poso is strongly linked to their own future.

Markéta Rejlková