Keeping Indonesia’s incredible forests alive
The Leuser Ecosystem on Sumatra is one of the world’s largest intact rainforests, sweeping from mountain to coast via cloud forest, lowland jungle and peat swamps. Covering over 10,000 square miles – an area nearly the size of Hawaii – this is the last place on Earth where orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers co-exist in the wild.
The forests and peatlands play a number of crucial roles:
- Home to a cornucopia of rare and endemic wildlife,
- Provide direct sustenance to many rural communities,
- Regulate water supply for millions of people across the wider Aceh province,
- Hold back floods and anchor soil against devastating landslides,
- Lock away huge amounts of carbon in their leaves, trunks and soils
Destroy the forests and you can imagine the consequences. But this is what is happening now. Every month, several square miles of pristine habitat are destroyed, mainly to make way for fast-growing plantation crops. Much of this development is illegal under Indonesian law, but enforcement failures along the supply chain – including by governments and global consumer brands who sell products containing palm oil – conspire to keep the forests falling.
Grants made by the Leuser Ecosystem Action Fund help to break the cycle of destruction, and accelerate the transition to a more secure, sustainable future.
There is still hope
More than hope, many tangible actions are being taken to stop deforestation, and restore degraded areas to their life-giving best. Success is the work of many hands – rangers who remove illegally planted oil palms and poachers’ snares; ecologists who monitor forest health with laser-like precision; advocates who raise standards among companies and banks; and entrepreneurs who catalyse opportunities for greener economic growth.
These are the allies of the forests, who pull all the threads together – thriving nature, healthy communities and resilience against climate change. Their efforts represent the Leuser Ecosystem’s best chance of survival and LEAF is proud to support this vital work.