Save Endangered Rainforest Species – Stop Ladia Galaska Roads

  • by: Michelle Merrill
  • recipient: James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group
A proposed road network threatens high biodiversity areas in the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most important conservation areas on Earth. Endangered Sumatran rhinos, tigers, orangutans and local people will suffer from illegal logging and floods triggered by the roads.
The World Bank co-sponsored the meeting on peace and the financing of reconstruction in Aceh on December 3, 2002, in Tokyo. We applaud the World Bank's efforts to contribute to peace, and to support the rehabilitation of Aceh and help people who have been repressed and traumatized by civil conflict for decades.

The World Bank issued a statement in 2002 that it will not support any road proposals that could potentially lead to destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem. The Leuser Ecosystem, located in Sumatra, Indonesia, one of the most important and biologically diverse conservation areas on earth and home to some of the most endangered species on the planet, is now threatened with destruction.

As the World Bank would be aware, the provincial government of Aceh, supported by local governments around the Leuser Ecosystem, is pushing ahead with a major road network called Ladia Galaska that will eventually lead to the destruction of all high biodiversity areas in the Leuser Ecosystem. After a meeting in Jakarta on 26th November 2002, the provincial government of Aceh received approval from the ministers of the central government, against the advice of concerned NGO's, to go ahead with the controversial road development plans.

Local people value the intact Leuser Ecosystem. Locals stand to lose the many ecological benefits this vast area of pristine forests offers them. Farmers and city dwellers stand to lose ecosystem services like crop fertilising animals and, quite simply, fresh water. Road building and subsequent illegal logging have already contributed to disastrous flooding in Aceh.

We share the local NGOs concerns that unless funding of peace and rehabilitation in Aceh, by the World Bank and other donor agencies, is made conditional upon there being no destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem, corrupt local governments in Aceh will substitute their own state funds and push ahead with the road networks that will destroy the Leuser Ecosystem. Local NGOs have called upon the President of Indonesia to intervene to stop the road. We urge you to do the same.

We, the undersigned, request the World Bank to implore the national, provincial and regional authorities in Indonesia to preserve the integrity of the majestic and invaluable Leuser Ecosystem, and withdraw the proposed Ladia Galaska road building scheme currently under consideration in Aceh. We ask that the World Bank take the lead among donor agencies in efforts to ensure that the Leuser Ecosystem is protected. Specifically, we call on the World Bank:

1. to not support infrastructure projects that are likely to lead to deforestation or other degradation of the Leuser Ecosystem;

2. to ensure that donor groups sponsoring the rehabilitation of Aceh receive prior commitment from the provincial government of Aceh and all related local regency governments, that they will not substitute any of their provincial or regency budget resources for projects that are likely to lead to degradation of the Leuser Ecosystem; and

3. to make any commitment to Aceh conditional on a prior commitment of the provincial government and all related local governments to strive to conserve the Leuser Ecosystem, including a commitment to eliminate all illegal logging.

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