The Leuser Ecosystem spans the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Over 35 times the size of Singapore, this majestic and ancient ecosystem covers more than 2.6 million hectares of lowland rainforests, peat swamps, montane and coastal forests and alpine meadows. Globally recognized as one of the richest expanses of tropical rainforest found anywhere in Southeast Asia, the Leuser Ecosystem is also one of Asia’s largest carbon sinks.
The last place on earth…
The Leuser Ecosystem is the last place on earth where orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers co-exist in the wild. Sadly all four of these species are now classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Critically Endangered. The Leuser Ecosystem is the only remaining habitat left in Sumatra large enough to sustain viable populations of these species.
A publication in leading international journal Science listed the Leuser Ecosystem as “one of the world’s foremost irreplaceable areas”.
Conservation efforts date far back
Efforts to conserve the Leuser Ecosystem date as far back as the early 19th century, when the traditional leaders of Aceh lobbied the colonial government to protect their natural heritage, ranging from the mountains all the way down to the coast. More recent laws have served to strengthen the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem and placed the responsibility for managing its protection and restoration with the Aceh Provincial Government (Article 150 of National Law on Governing Aceh No. 11/2006).
Furthermore the Leuser Ecosystem has special legal status as a National Strategic Area for its Environmental Protection Function (26 of 2007 juncto 26/2008), prohibiting any activities that reduce that function including cultivation and infrastructure development.