Conservation News: Prized Forest in Aceh Threatened by Development

photo courtesy of Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images
photo courtesy of Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images

by Richard C. Paddock for the Wall Street Journal.com Indonesia Realtime

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – A prized forest ecosystem that is home to endangered Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants is threatened by an Aceh government land use plan that is accelerating illegal logging and development, conservationists charge.

Aceh, which has greater autonomy than other provinces, is asserting control over land within the Leuser Ecosystem and ignoring its status as a nationally protected area, environmentalists contend.

Conservationists say the Aceh government is ignoring the central government and allowing widespread illegal activities in the protected area: logging, road-building, the burning of protected land and the planting of extensive palm oil groves.

In February,  the Home Affairs ministry, which has authority over the planning process, rejected Aceh’s plan and directed provincial officials to include consideration of Leuser. The provincial government has yet to amend the plan and is implementing it anyway, environmentalists say.

“All we are asking is for you to follow the rules,” said Ian Singleton, scientific director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, which releases formerly captive orangutans into the wilderness area. “If you want to conserve Sumatra’s mega-fauna, you have to conserve the Leuser ecosystem.”

This excerpt from a news article appeared in and is courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.com Indonesia Realtime and can be read in its entirety here.

The Orangutan Conservancy supports the work of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme.

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