Leuser Ecosystem And Tropical Rainforest Heritage Of Sumatra Remains ‘World Heritage at Risk’

Waterfall. Courtesy photo
TRHS News:
KRAKOW, POLAND  The 41st World Heritage Committee session has voted unanimously to retain the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS) on the List of World Heritage In Danger due to threats facing its globally significant rainforests.
Panut Hadisiswoyo, founder and director of the Orangutan Information Centre, and civil society spokesperson at the World Heritage Committee meeting issued the following statement:
“The World Heritage Committee has confirmed the need to take decisive action to address current and emerging threats facing world heritage rainforests in Sumatra. We are very appreciative that the committee has retained the Tropical Rainforest Heritage Sumatra site on the List of World Heritage In Danger, as destruction driven by illegal activities continue to this day.”
“The Indonesian Government’s announcement to categorically rule out geothermal development within the World Heritage property is welcomed. We stand ready to work collaboratively to protect its rainforests and realise alternative development that protects the greater Leuser Ecosystem whilst securing the integrity of the TRHS World Heritage Site.”
The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra was nominated by the Indonesian Government as a World Heritage Site, and accepted in 2004. The TRHS and adjacent lowland rainforests and peatlands in the greater Leuser Ecosystem are the only place on Earth where orangutans, rhinos, tigers and elephants occur together in the wild and is a critical source of water and livelihoods for millions. In 2011, the property was listed as ‘World Heritage in Danger’ due to illegal logging, poaching, palm oil expansion and fragmentation of its intact rainforests for new roads. Since then new threats have emerged including Aceh’s flawed spatial plan, three proposed large hydroelectric dams and the proposed Kappi Geothermal Project that if built would destroy forests in the very heart of the World Heritage Site.
Mr Hadisiswoyo made the following commitment during his address:
“Like the Indonesian Government, we are committed to see the property come off the ‘Danger list’ but not until all the threats it faces have been addressed. We commend both the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry and Governor Irwandi Yusuf of the Aceh Provincial Government who now have made unequivocal statements ruling out geothermal proposals in the heart of Leuser, but we still have much work to do to reverse the damages that have already been done, and block any attempts at building any new roads or hydro dams proposed for Leuser Ecosystem.”
“We are ready to work with the Indonesian Government to conserve the property. Proper law enforcement is required to tackle the unacceptable levels of illegal logging, poaching, encroachments and new roads.”
Mr. Hadisiswoyo delivered petitions to the 21 members of the World Heritage Committee on behalf of 14,000 concerned global citizens that are part of the growing movement to “Love The Leuser” and supported the call to keep the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra site on the List of World Heritage In Danger – until such time that the threats to the property are resolved and its conservation into the future ensured in perpetuity.

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