FULL SPEAD AHEAD FOR THE LEUSER ECOSYSTEM
Only when all the cogs mesh smoothly, the Leuser ecosystem can be preserved. That is why we and our partners increase the international pressure and are, at the same time, pleased with the appointment of the new «green» governor of the province of Aceh.
The Leuser ecosystem in Nordsumatra is an area of 2.6 million hectares of rainforest and provides a habitat for many endangered species, including the Sumatran Orangutan. It is also the last place in the world in which animals such as tigers, rhinos, elephants and primates live together. It is highly threatened by humans, even though the ecosystem is of essential value concerning water supply and protection from environmental disasters for over four million people in Nordsumatra. Since 2004, the Leuser ecosystem is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The Leuser Alliance, an association of various NGOs, including the Swiss PanEco Foundation with the Sumatra Orangutan Protection Program SOCP, aims to protect the Leuser ecosystem.
In a report dated 20 March to UNESCO, the Alliance calls for action to be taken against the threats to the Leuser ecosystem. Numerous new dams for hydroelectric and geothermal plants are planned. The roads which would lead to these facilities would destroy or seperate rainforest areas. A Turkish company is also doing political lobbying with the Indonesian government for a rezoning which would allow to build an entire power plant in the heart of the Leuser ecosystem. The projected power plants are often planned under the guise of being renewable energies and of helping to achieve the Indonesian CO2 target. The members of the Leuser Alliance also support renewable energy sources instead of other sources, but of course not at the expense of protected rainforests.
The Turkish project, run by the company Hitay, is supported by the current governor of the province of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah. Soon his successor, Irwandi Yusuf, will be sworn in. Yusuf was already the highest representative of the province of Aceh in the period from 2008 until 2012 and had a reputation as a «Green Governor». The alliance welcomes Yusuf’s election and hopes that he will live up to his reputation and keep his election promise which was to stop this project.
Dr. Ian Singleton, the Head of the Sumatra Orangutan Protection Program, says: «It is absurd that a place like the Leuser ecosystem could be eradicated because of renewable energies». Farwiza Farhan, chairwoman of the organization HAkA (Forest, Nature and Environment Aceh), strikes a combative tone for the whole Leuser alliance: «We won’t watch silently when our rainforests are sold to foreign companies»!