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A cross-organisational initiative to protect the Leuser ecosystem

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The 2.6-million-hectare Leuser ecosystem is located in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra. It is one of the largest, still intact, contiguous rainforests in Southeast Asia and the only place in the world where endangered species such as orangutans, rhinos, elephants, and tigers share the same habitat. PanEco has been working here for several years as part of a Landscape Conservation Project with long-standing, trustworthy partners – and with generous support from the Arcus Foundation.

A cross-organisational initiative to protect the Leuser ecosystem

-
The 2.6-million-hectare Leuser ecosystem is located in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra. It is one of the largest, still intact, contiguous rainforests in Southeast Asia and the only place in the world where endangered species such as orangutans, rhinos, elephants, and tigers share the same habitat. PanEco has been working here for several years as part of a Landscape Conservation Project with long-standing, trustworthy partners – and with generous support from the Arcus Foundation.

Multifaceted commitment to protecting the Leuser ecosystem

With financial support from the Arcus Foundation, PanEco is currently implementing a three-year alliance project in the Leuser ecosystem together with our sister foundation YEL and three other long-standing partner organisations: FKL, HAkA and OIC. The alliance project comprises a wide range of measures for the all-embracing protection of the biodiversity in the Leuser ecosystem. This includes the collection of data on orangutans and gibbons, promotion of environmentally friendly spatial planning at provincial level, the clearance of illegal palm oil plantations, monitoring the implementation of the Nature Conservation Act, and ranger patrols. We also do media promotion, and we support public institutions in preventing environmental abuses and criminal activities.

Women of a village community handing out seedlings of fruit trees for reforestation.
A course in plant grafting for the reforestation project.

We have recently evaluated the first 12 months of the current project. And we were pleased to note that the various measures implemented in the first year already are having an impact. Here are two concrete examples:

Long-term spatial planning in cooperation with the authorities
Our partner organisations have been working for years to ensure that the Leuser ecosystem is included in the spatial planning of the province of Aceh for the years 2023-2043. The final draft of the plan is currently awaiting approval from the State Secretariat. In this important phase, our partner organisations are intensifying their lobbying work with the authorities at regional, provincial, and national level to achieve a revision of the spatial planning of Aceh province.

Wildlife Protection Teams in action

PanEco’s partners deploy wildlife protection teams throughout the Leuser ecosystem to protect critical wildlife habitats and reduce forest and wildlife crime. Last year, these teams carried out patrols on an average of 15 days per month. In addition, our partner organisations focus on training the teams and representatives of the national park and forest authorities. They are also involved in monitoring the protected forests and improving law enforcement. In 2023, the authorities carried out 17 law enforcement interventions in the Leuser ecosystem, including actions against illegal logging, forest encroachment and wildlife trafficking. All these were made possible by the preliminary work of our partner organisations. Thus, after the initial implementation, the first successes can be recorded.

A member of the Wildlife Protection Team with a snare trap that has just been disarmed.

Unfortunately, all these measures could not prevent a slight increase in deforestation in the Leuser ecosystem in 2023 compared to 2022. Nevertheless, we are confident that we have been able to prevent worse and we are optimistic that we will be able to achieve a lot more for the protection of the Leuser ecosystem in the next two years of this project.

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