Global Conservation is raising critical funding to protect and sustainably develop the Leuser Ecosystem to enable its permanent protection over the next ten years. The next three years are extremely critical for establishing the legal and institutional protection, strong local partners and international support needed to reverse accelerating threats facing Leuser’s core forests and wildlife habitats.
Our work over the next three years is focused on wildlife habitat protection, removal of illegal plantations and logging operations, SMART ranger patrols and lobbying and legal actions to enforce Leuser Ecosystem’s existing protection as a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site.
We provide funding and technology for a proven methodology for park transformation to achieve ‘No Kill, No Cut’. Global Conservation works alongside park authorities with local communities to implement a Global Park Defense - border demarcation, informant rewards system, advanced surveillance and communications and SMART Ranger Patrols to enable national parks to combat and eliminate illegal poaching, logging and mining.
Leuser is highly endangered with accelerating threats since the end of the Acehnese rebellion and civil war. With stability comes rapid invasion of commercial interests in palm oil, rubber, logging and other companies legally and illegally deforesting Leuser Ecosystem at amazing rates. In just the past 5 years, Leuser Ecosystem has lost over 20% of its lowland forests. If this trend continues, many of the critical wildlife habitats and corridors will be lost forever.
Above: Forest loss in Sumatra of nearly 50% over the past fifteen years Leuser is last intact natural forest remaining in the north of Sumatra. Courtesy of Mongabay.
Sumatra, twice the size of Japan, has lost nearly 50 percent of its forests in the past 15 years. Leuser Ecosystem is the last chance to protect the UNESCO World Heritage of Sumatra and critical habitats for the Big 4 mega fauna on the brink of extinction.
Progress the Past 3 Years
In the past three years, despite accelerating threats, Global Conservation and its partners have had some major successes:
Building two new local NGOs with over 140 field staff for conservation and patrols
Stopped a major road building plan - ‘Roads to Nowhere’
Closed 24+ illegal plantations, 36 illegal logging operations and restored 30+ illegal palm oil plantations to natural forest
Deploying 100+ strong anti-poaching patrols and multiple arrests
New wildlife-focused conservation programs for rhino, tigers, orangutan and elephants including establishment of a new megafauna sanctuary
International lobbying securing support from EU, USA, and other nations
National recognition and public petitions with over 1.1 million signatories
Securing new funding from Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, others
Establishment of major new wildlife corridors and buffer areas
Leuser Ecosystem - Critically Endangered Mega Fauna
Leuser Ecosystem Highlights
Leuser Ecosystem is over 6 million acres, three times the size of Yellowstone.
Established by Indonesian Presidential Decree in 1998, the core national park (1.5 million acres) was established by Decree of the Ministry of Forestry in 1997.
Most intact wildlife habitat of high biodiversity and mega fauna in Asia.
Less than 400 Sumatran Tigers are left in the world, the majority are in Leuser - IUCN Red List – Critically Endangered.
Sumatra has experienced nearly total forest loss and decimation of wildlife habitat.
Sumatra fires are the sources of the Southeast Asia Haze pollution causing $100s of millions in economic losses and health issues annually.
Saving the Yellowstone of Asia
Global Conservation is sponsoring four critical initiatives in 2016-2018 to assist park authorities and local NGOs to permanently protect the Leuser Ecosystem:
Stop Aceh Governor’ Revisions to the Aceh Spatial Plan. We are empowering local communities with the legal support, professional lobbying and investigative journalism to stand-up and reject the wholesale give-away of the Leuser Ecosystem proposed by the current Aceh governor and his corrupt officials. The latest revision proposed by the Aceh Governor has been rejected by both the Ministries of Forestry and Home Affairs and over 1.2 million petition signatures from Acehnese people demanded a better pro-conservation and pro-development spatial plan and approach.
Habitat Acquisition and New Protection for Core Wildlife Areas. There are 5-6 highly important core areas for wildlife in Leuser which need special support for land acquisition, demarcation, informant reward systems, advanced surveillance protection networks of these core areas is the highest priority.
Closing Illegal Palm Plantations and Restoring Forests - Sending a signal to major and minor palm oil producers that Leuser is off-limits to illegal plantations, mining and logging. 2016-18 goals are to close 5-6 illegal encroachments and restore over 20,000 hectares in critical orangutan and elephant habitats and corridors.
SMART Ranger Patrols - Provide wildlife protection training, equipment, rations and technical support to the national park rangers to implement SMART patrols increasing coverage, accountability and interdictions of illegal activities.
Global Conservation’s initial three year program will nearly triple funds available for Leuser conservation and will enable securing $10-20 million investment by the European Union and other national governments, multi-lateral, major foundations and other donors to ensure Leuser Ecosystem’s permanent protection.
With the right strategy, planning, team, and national and international support, Leuser Ecosystem can be well managed to support both development and conservation with well-placed legal plantations as buffer areas to the critical wildlife habitats and corridors, while ensuring the future security of food, water and employment for 4.7 million Acehnese who livelihoods depend on Leuser Ecosystem.
Forest loss in and around the Leuser Ecosystem (dark green lungs or butterfly-shaped area) over the past five years. Courtesy of Global Forest Watch.
Threats to Leuser Ecosystem
Above: Rampant deforestation for palm plantations is destroying large tracks of lowland areas where the majority of wildlife are found. Courtesy: Mongabay.
Tigers and their body parts are hunted by foreign poachers and traded openly by Acehnese in the village due to extremely high market prices. Courtesy: CATT.
Visitors can explore Leuser on the backs of elephants, by jeep, trekking or river rafting.
Courtesy: Mike Griffiths.
The Leuser Ecosystem of Sumatra covers over 6 million acres including lowland and mountainous rainforests and over 460,000 acres of carbon-rich peatlands.
The Leuser Ecosystem is the last place on earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, elephants, rhinos and sun bears co-exist in the wild. Countless other biological treasures including clouded leopards, hornbills and the largest flowers in the world can be found in the teeming forests of the Leuser Ecosystem.
It is estimated that Leuser’s water, land and ecosystem services are valued at over $600 million annually, not including tourism. Leuser Ecosystem stores over 1.6 billion tons of carbon and is the water source for 4 million people.
Being already a national park with UNESCO World Heritage designation, Global Conservation believes that this three year program from 2016-2018 will be transformational for establishing Leuser’s legal, institutional and on-the-ground protection. After many years of struggle, the right conditions are coming together with growing global concern and millions of Indonesians rallying to the cause for the permanent protection of Leuser Ecosystem.
Between 70 and 75 percent of Aceh’s 4.7 million people live on the coastal plains and the majority are engaged and reliant on wet rice cultivation for food security. The livelihoods and food supply for millions of people rely heavily on the environmental services, particularly the water supplies, that the Leuser Ecosystem provides.
There is major untapped tourism potential for Leuser as an international destination being only 2 hours from Singapore and Kuala Lampur, and 3 hours from Hong Kong. Over 160 kilometers of coastline and 4 diverse ecosystems provide an authentic wilderness and wildlife experience with fishing, boating, trekking, wildlife viewing, beaches, rafting, birding and mountain lodges. The European Union and the Government of Indonesia have already sponsored $18 million for construction of six new airports in and around Leuser for easy transport between sectors.
Over the next ten years, the Leuser Ecosystem will be the last forest left in Sumatra and the epicenter of new palm oil plantation expansion. Combined with unchecked mining, logging, industrial pulp plantations, inappropriate road building projects, and poaching in the region, this vital ecosystem is facing a perfect storm of destruction.
The Leuser Ecosystem is ‘protected’ under Indonesian national law by Presidential Decree and is designated as a National Strategic Area for its environmental potential. Gunung Leuser National Park comprises 33% of the larger Leuser Ecosystem and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage designation for the Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra.
FKL patrols traverse Leuser removing tiger and rhino traps, deterring poachers and interfacing with local villages who provide information on illegal activities.
Law enforcement alerted by FKL staff confiscate illegal logs being floated down river.
Rudi Putra has worked tirelessly to save the Leuser Ecosystem for the past twelve years. He received the Goldman Environmental Award for his efforts in 2014.
Partners in Global Conservation
Three key partners in Leuser are organizing the primary front in the battle to save Leuser:
Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL)
Led by Rudi Putra, a Goldman Environmental Awardee (2014) and Mike Griffith, FKL has over a 140-strongfield team patrolling and workding with local communities and law enforcement to stop illegal wildlife poaching, palm oil plantation and destructive logging. Activities include:
• Management planning
• Surveying and mapping
• Monitoring and enforcement
• Forest restoration
• Developing Eco-services
• Participation of local communities
• Regulation of carbon credits
• Control of natural resource licenses
• Sustainable financing
• Conflict resolution
• Legislation, policies and zoning
• Rehabilitation of degraded areas
• Mitigate human- wildlife conflicts
• Mitigate impacts of new infrastructure
• Preventative law enforcement
• Public awareness and support
• Cultural diversity and livelihoods
HaKA (Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh)
Based in Banda Aceh, HaKA is working on legal action, stakeholder coordination, public relations and petition drives that have garnered over a million signatures supporting protection of the Leuser Ecosystem.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
Global Conservation is supporting establishment of SMART Patrols for Gunung Leuser National Park led by WCS training.
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