Agricultural development has been deeply problematic for the Leuser Ecosystem.
Commodity production, including industrial palm oil plantations, has cut through large tracts of lowland rainforest, carbon-rich peatlands and wildlife corridors. Parts of the industry have defied all attempts to contain the destruction, including government edicts and ‘zero deforestation’ commitments by major corporate brands. LEAF supports civil society groups to campaign, advocate and advise on more forest-friendly commodity production. Finally, there are some signs of a corner being turned, in the shape of sustainable trade partnerships that push commodity production away from areas of high conservation value, support small farmers and boost yields from each unit of land. LEAF grant partners helped lay the foundations for these partnerships, which bring local government to the table along with commodity growers and buyers, and which promise to lessen the pressure on key areas of habitat and carbon value. It is vital that civil society groups have sufficient funds to monitor the progress of innovative schemes such as these, as well as advocate for a growing consensus around forest protection.