Gunung Leuser National Park
Gunung Leuser National Park is a national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

 covering 7,927 km² in northern Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

, Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, straddling the border of North Sumatra
North Sumatra
North Sumatra is a province of Indonesia on the Sumatra island. Its capital is Medan. It is the most populous Indonesian province outside of Java. It is slightly larger than Sri Lanka in area.- Geography and population :...

 and Aceh
Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...

 provinces. The national park, named after Mount Leuser
Mount Leuser
Mount Leuser is the tallest mountain in the Indonesian province of Aceh, with an elevation of .The Gunung Leuser National Park protects the mountain and its surrounding ecosystems. It has been confirmed by some scientists that 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake has activated the volcano...

 (3,381 m), protects a wide range of ecosystems. An orangutan
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of extant great ape. The largest living arboreal animals, they have proportionally longer arms than the other, more terrestrial, great apes. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping...

 sanctuary of Bukit Lawang
Bukit Lawang
Bukit Lawang is a small tourist village at the bank of Bahorok River in North Sumatra province of Indonesia. Situated approximately 86 km north-west of Medan, Bukit Lawang is known for the largest animal sanctuary of Sumatran orangutan , and also the main access point to the Gunung Leuser National...

 is located inside the park. Together with Bukit Barisan Selatan
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is a national park in Sumatra, Indonesia. The park has a total area of 3,568 km², and spans three provinces: Lampung, Bengkulu, and South Sumatra...

 and Kerinci Seblat
Kerinci Seblat National Park
Kerinci Seblat National Park is the largest national park in Sumatra Indonesia. It has a total area of 13,791 km2, and spans four provinces: West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu and South Sumatra....

 national parks it forms a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. It comprises three Indonesian national parks on the island of Sumatra: Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park...



Gunung Leuser National Park is 150 km long, over 100 km wide and is mostly mountainous. 40% of the park, which is mainly in the north, is steep, and over 1,500 m. 12% of the Park only, in the lower southern half, is below 600 meters but for 25 km runs down the coast. 11 peaks are over 2,700 m and the highest point is Gunung Leuser, which 3 466 m high.


Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the two remaining habitats for Sumatran Orangutan
Sumatran Orangutan
The Sumatran orangutan is one of the two species of orangutans. Found only on the island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, it is rarer and smaller than the Bornean orangutan. The Sumatran orangutan grows to about tall and in males...

s (Pongo abelii). In 1971, Herman Rijksen established the Ketambe research station, a specially designated research area for the orangutan. Other mammals found in the park are the Sumatran Elephant
Sumatran Elephant
The Sumatran Elephant is one of three recognized subspecies of the Asian Elephant, and native to Sumatra island of Indonesia. Since 1986, Elephas maximus has been listed as endangered by IUCN as the population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years...

, Sumatran tiger
Sumatran Tiger
The Sumatran tiger is a tiger subspecies that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra and has been classified as critically endangered by IUCN in 2008 as the population is projected at 176 to 271 mature individuals, with no subpopulation having an effective population size larger than 50...

, Sumatran rhinoceros
Sumatran Rhinoceros
The Sumatran Rhinoceros is a member of the family Rhinocerotidae and one of five extant rhinoceroses. It is the only extant species of the genus Dicerorhinus. It is the smallest rhinoceros, although is still a large mammal. This rhino stands high at the shoulder, with a head-and-body length of ...

, Siamang
The siamang is a tailless, arboreal, black-furred gibbon native to the forests of Malaysia, Thailand, and Sumatra. The largest of the lesser apes, the siamang can be twice the size of other gibbons, reaching 1 m in height, and weighing up to 14 kg...

, Mainland Serow
Mainland Serow
The Mainland Serow is a species of goat antelope native to China and Southeast Asia. The name "mainland serow" was formerly referring to Capricornis sumatraensis, which used to be the scientific name for all serows in the mainland and Sumatra when they were all considered to be the same species...

, Sambar deer
Sambar Deer
The Sambar ' is a large deer native to southern and southeast Asia. Although it primarily refers to R. unicolor, the name "Sambar" is also sometimes used to refer to the Philippine Deer and the Rusa Deer...

, and Leopard Cat
Leopard Cat
The leopard cat is a small wild cat of South and East Asia. Since 2002 it has been listed as Least Concern by IUCN as it is widely distributed but threatened by habitat loss and hunting in parts of its range...


Ecological services

Water Supply
As mentioned, the first signs of reduced water replenishment have already been seen in and around the Leuser Ecosystem
Leuser Ecosystem
The Leuser Ecosystem is an area of forest located in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Covering more than 2.6 million hectares it is one of the richest expanses of tropical rain forest in Southeast Asia and is the last place on earth where sumatran...

. Groundwater reservoirs are rapidly being exhausted and several rivers fall completely dry during part of the year. This has severe consequences for the local community. Both households and industries need to anticipate water shortages and higher costs for water.

Coastal fisheries and aquaculture in and around Leuser are very important. They provide a large portion of the animal protein in local people’s diets and generate ample foreign exchange. Their annual value currently exceeds US $171 million. If the Leuser Ecosystem is degraded, the decline in fresh water may have a detrimental impact on the functioning of the fishery sector.

Flood and Drought Prevention
Flooding generally becomes more frequent and more destructive as a result of converting forests to other uses. Annual storm flows from a secondary forest are about threefold higher than from a similar-sized primary forest catchment area (Kramer
et al., 1995). In Aceh, local farmers have reported an increasing frequency of drought and damaging floods due to degradation of the watercatchment area. In May 1998, over 5,000 ha of intensive rice growing areas were taken out of
active production. This was the result of the failure of 29 irrigation schemes due to a water shortage. Furthermore, floods in December 2000 cost the lives of at least 190 people and left 660, 000 people homeless. This cost the Aceh province almost US $90 million in losses (Jakarta Post, 2000a). Logging companies are slowly recognising their role in increased flooding and have made large donations to support the victims (Jakarta Post, 2000b).

Agriculture and Plantations
Agriculture is a major source of income for the local communities around Leuser. Large rubber and oil palm plantations in northern Sumatra play a major role in the national economy. Almost all remaining lowland forest has been given out officially for oil palm plantations. Yield decline has been recorded, however, in several Leuser regencies. This decline can be ascribed mainly to a deterioration of nutrients in the soil, along with soil erosion, drought and floods, and an increase in weeds. Clearly, these causes of decline are linked to the deforestation of Leuser. For example, the logging of water-catchment areas in Leuser is found to be responsible for taking 94% of failed irrigation areas out of production (BZD, 2000a).

Several regencies, such as Aceh Tenggara., have hydro-electricity plants that use water from Leuser.
The plants operated in Aceh Tenggara are designed as small-scale economic activities. It appears that the operational conditions for the hydro-plants have worsened in recent years. Increased erosion of the waterways has forced the operators to remove excessive sediments from their turbines. This has led to frequent interruption of the power supply, higher operational costs and damage to the blades of the turbines. One plant closed down due to lack of water supply. Most of these disturbances are considered abnormal and may therefore be attributed to deforestation.

Low-impact eco-tourism can be one of the most important sustainable, non-consumptive uses of Leuser, thereby giving local communities powerful incentives for conservation. Given the opportunities to view wildlife such as orang-utans, some experts view eco-tourism as a major potential source of revenue for communities living around Leuser (van Schaik, 1999).

People living in areas with a high biodiversity value tend to be relatively poor. Hence, the highest economic values for biodiversity are likely to be found within institutions and people in wealthy countries. Funds can come from several sources, including bio-prospecting, the GEF and grants from international NGOs (with donations possibly being proportional to biodiversity value) (Wind and Legg, 2000).

Carbon Sequestration
Anthropogenic increases in the concentrations of greenhouse gases (such as CO2) in the atmosphere are widely believed to lead to climate change. Carbon sequestration by rainforest ecosystems therefore has an economic value, since the carbon fixed in the ecosystem reduces atmospheric concentrations.

Fire Prevention
To what extent does primary rainforest have a fire prevention function, and thus an additional value for preventing economic damage? There are various factors that make disturbed forest more prone to fires than primary forests. The likelihood that a forest will burn depends on the level of fire hazard and fire risk: (1) fire hazard is a measure of the amount, type, and dryness of potential fuel in the forest. Logged forest has relatively large amount of dry logging wastes
lying around; (2) Fire risk is a measure of the probability that the fuel will ignite. In the presence of abandoned logging roads, which provide easy access to otherwise remote forests, the fire risk is greatly increased when settlers use fire for land clearance.

Non-timber forest products
NTFP can provide local communities with cash as long as exploitation does not surpass a threshold level.


In November 1995, the Langkat Regency
Langkat Regency
Langkat Regency is the northernmost regency in eastern shore of North Sumatra. Its seat is Stabat. Its area is 6,272 km² and population was 892,533 in the 2000 national Census, and official intercensal estimate in 2007 of 1,027,414 people....

 government proposed a road to connect an old enclave, known as Sapo Padang, inside the park. In pursuit of business opportunities, 34 families who had been living in the enclave formed a cooperative in March 1996 and subsequently submitted a proposal to develop an oil palm
Oil palm
The oil palms comprise two species of the Arecaceae, or palm family. They are used in commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil. The African Oil Palm Elaeis guineensis is native to West Africa, occurring between Angola and Gambia, while the American Oil Palm Elaeis oleifera is native to...

 plantation in August 1997. The oil palm proposal was accepted by the regency and the head of the park agreed to the road construction.

In accordance to the government's Poverty Alleviation Program, the oil palm project proceeded with 42.5 km² of clearance area, but the project caused major forest destruction in the park during its implementation. The local cooperation unit formed a partnership with PT Amal Tani, which has strong relationship with the military command in the area. In January 1998, the Indonesian Forest Ministry granted a permission of 11 km road to be built. In June 1998, local office of the Forestry Service issued a decree stating that the Sapo Padang enclave was no longer legally a part of the national park, a controversial decision which consequently led to further forest destruction during the road construction and invited newcomers to slash and burn
Slash and burn
Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique which involves cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools. It is typically part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock...

 forest area to create local plantations a way deeper to the park.

In 1999, two university-based NGOs filed a legal suit to the Medan State Court, while a group of 61 lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

s brought a parallel case in the National Administrative Court. In July 1999, the National Administrative Court rejected the case, while the local NGOs won with 30 million rupiahs damage, but the legal process continues with appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

s. The legal process did not stop the project that extensive logging and clearing, road-building and oil palm plantation continue operating inside the national park.

2011 reports the pressures on locals from palm oil profits has led to illegal slash and burning of 21,000 hectares per year.
"Despite being protected by federal law from any form of destructive encroachment, illegal logging is still rampant in the forest, with the foliage of the Leuser ecosystem disappearing at a rate of 21,000 hectares per year."


In December 2010, 26 families comprising 84 people were relocated from Gunung Leuser National Park area to Musi Banyuasin, South Sumatra
South Sumatra
South Sumatra is a province of Indonesia.-Geography:It is on the island of Sumatra, and borders the provinces of Lampung to the south, Bengkulu to the west, and Jambi to the north...

. There are thousands of people who inhabit the park illegally, and the Indonesian government plans to relocate them. Many of the inhabitants are refugees from the violence and disasters in Aceh
Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...


See also

External links

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