Indonesia: Protect Endangered Orangutans and the Leuser Ecosystem

  • By: Alicia Graef
  • Target: The Honorable Dr. Zaini Abdullah, Governor of Aceh

In a victory for wildlife, an Indonesian court dealt a big blow to a palm oil company for illegally burning areas of the Tripa peat forest in the provence of Aceh that are vitally important for the future survival of critically endangered orangutans, along with other species including Sumatran tigers and elephants, Malayan sun bears and rhinos.

For orangutans, efforts to protect the the Tripa peat forests and Leuser Ecosystem could be their only hope for survival. There are only an estimated 6,500 orangutans left in Sumatra who continue to face threats from deforestation, habitat fragmentation, the pet trade and being killed as pests. Conservationists from Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program(SOCP) estimate that as many as 100 of Tripa’s orangutans have been killed in fires so far.

Unfortunately, the future of Aceh's wildlife is still in danger. The government is considering a controversial and short-sighted spatial land use plan known as Qanun RTRW Aceh that would threaten Aceh's protected forests by clearing the way for mining and palm oil and timber concessions, in addition to clearing the way for the development of new roads, which will fragment precious habitat and create more access to wildlife for hunters.

Not only would this be a huge blow to orangutans and overall biodiversity, but it will also harm local communities. Environmentalists predict that further deforestation will lead to natural consequences that include more flash floods, landslides and erosion, in addition to destroying livelihoods that are forest-dependent and threatening the water supply that millions of people rely on for drinking and food production.

The Leuser Ecosystem was recently named one of the world's most irreplaceable places for the conservation of protected species and it's clear that the international community supports greater protection.

Now, environmentalists are urging Aceh's governor to stand up for wildlife and the people who depend on this valuable rainforest by supporting a nomination for the Leuser Ecosystem as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Please send a message to the Aceh's governor asking him to support World Heritage Status for the Leseur Ecosystem, which will help conserve biodiversity and protect local communities.

As someone who is concerned with the future of the earth's biodiversity and protection of our treasured rainforests, I am writing to ask you to nominate the Leuser Ecosystem as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For critically endangered orangutans, efforts to protect the the Tripa peat forests and Leuser Ecosystem could be their only hope for survival. Conservationists from Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program(SOCP) estimate that as many as 100 of Tripa’s orangutans have been killed in fires so far as a result of palm oil concessions.

The current spatial land use plan known as Quanun RTRW would further threaten Aceh's protected forests by clearing the way for mining and palm oil and timber concessions, in addition to clearing the way for the development of new roads, which will fragment precious habitat and create more access to wildlife for hunters.

Not only would this be a huge blow to orangutans and other rare species including tigers, rhinos and elephants, but it will also harm local communities. Environmentalists predict that further deforestation will lead to natural consequences that include more flash floods, landslides and erosion, in addition to destroying livelihoods that are forest-dependent and threatening the water supply that millions of people rely on for drinking and food production.

The Leuser Ecosystem was recently named one of the world's most irreplaceable places and the world is watching to see what steps Indonesia will take to ensure that it gets the protection it deserves.

I sincerely hope you will choose not to support long-term damage to the Leuser Ecosystem for short-term profits and instead help Aceh's communities and wildlife by securing greater protection for the Leuser Ecosystem as a whole by helping to secure World Heritage status.

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