Kamis, 30 Maret 2017


  Jakarta, March 30, 2017 (Antara) - The Leuser ecosystem located in Aceh and North Sumatra is among the most biodiverse and ancient ecosystems to be ever documented by science and the last habitat of Sumatran orangutans, elephants, tigers, rhinos, and sun bears.    
    Countless other biological treasures, including clouded leopards, hornbills, and the biggest flowers in the world, can be found in the teeming forests of the Leuser Ecosystem, where over 460 thousand acres of carbon-rich peatlands exist.  
    An animal called the "Thomas Leaf Monkey," or known as Monkey Kedih, is an endemic species of Leuser, and is not found anywhere else in the world.
         The ecosystem is part of the 2.5 million-hectare Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra site that comprises three national parks: Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park, and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.
    The site holds the greatest potential for long-term conservation of the distinctive and diverse biota of Sumatra, including many endangered species.
         The protected area is home to an estimated 10,000 plant species, including 17 endemic genera; more than 200 mammal species; and some 580 bird species of which 465 are resident and 21 are endemic. Of the mammal species, 22 are Asian, not found elsewhere in the archipelago and 15 are confined to the Indonesian region, including the endemic Sumatran orang-utan. The site also provides biogeographic evidence of the evolution of the island.      

    The World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed the site since 2004. The natural site has been inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2011 until present.  
    The danger still exists, as a mega project is planned to be built within the ecosystem and would threaten the existence of the forests.

         Recently, a consortium of environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had sent a letter to the UNESCO World Heritage over the plan to build a geothermal power plant that could threaten the Leuser Ecosystem.
         The Leuser Ecosystem would suffer serious damage if a geothermal power plant was to be built inside the ecosystem area, Panut Hadisiswoyo, director of the Orangutan Information Center (OIC), stated.
         Apart from the OIC, other NGOs joining the consortium include the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme and the Aceh Natural Forest and Environment Foundation.
         The UNESCO World Heritage should intervene in the matter to prevent the extinction of the Sumatran tropical forests in Leuser, he remarked.
         "We urge the World Heritage to take strategic measures to prevent the implementation of those projects inside the Leuser Ecosystem area, the last existing habitat of orangutans, rhinos, and tigers that coexist there. This area must be protected," he stated.
         The planned geothermal power plant will be built inside the core zone of the Leuser Ecosystem.
         The Indonesian government has been lobbied by a company that will build the power plant to change the core zone.
         Farwiza, chairman of the HAkA Foundation, has expressed concerns, as representatives of the company had held frequent closed-door meetings with the related ministry officials to push the construction of the power plant.
         "This mega project will destroy the habitats of several protected and endangered animals. The mega project also holds no relevance to the needs and interests of the Aceh people," he explained.
          Ian Singleton, program director of the Sumatra Orangutan Conservation, said the Leuser Ecosystem has the largest tropical rainforest in Southeast Aceh, which is home to orangutans, elephants, rhinos, Sumatran tigers, and other rare species.
         "It will be very ironic if a priceless and highly valuable ecosystem, such as Leuser, is lost due to the construction of a power plant," he added.
         To save the ecosystem, several environmental organizations in Indonesia and across the world have voiced their support for a movement called "Love the Leuser Ecosystem."
     The purpose of the "Love the Leuser Ecosystem" movement is to create awareness among global citizens about the biodiversity in the Leuser and its impact to the world, in order to protect the region from industrial damages.
         The campaign to protect the Leuser ecosystem is implemented through graphic art, photography, video, and virtual reality that are spread through social and traditional media in a bid to raise the profile of the landscape of the Leuser Ecosystem, according to a press statement issued by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN).    
    Communication coordinator of RAN, Leoni Rahmawati, stated that the local community, renowned wildlife biologists, forest conservationists, human rights activists, climate change activists, and Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio have participated in this movement.
        The Leuser Ecosystem emerges in Leonardo DiCaprio documentary (film) entitled "Before the Flood" as an important area that serves to protect the climate balance of the world.  ***3***

(T.F001/A/BESSR/F. Assegaf) 30-03-2017

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