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Buying 101 Acres of Sumatra’s Rainforest- The Last Stand of The Sumatran Rhino

James Bedingham

Created at: Nov 02, 2018

Last updated: Nov 02, 2018

Conservation News Popular

We donate 10% of our profits every year in an effort to offset the carbon footprint of our production process. By only using recycled woods and recycled plastic to fabricate the decking board and by supporting charities that protect important rainforest we hope to be an as ethical decking product as possible. In April last year we were able to help Rainforest Trust purchase 101 Acres of key rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra as part of their project aiming at saving the Sumatran Rhino. In total Rainforest Trust were able to purchase 184,795 acres in the Aceh province, the only province in the world where you can still find the Critically Endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sumatran Orangutan, Sumatran Elephant and the Sumatran Tiger.

The Last Stand of The Sumatran Rhino- Rainforest Trust EnviroBuild Donation


The Leuser Ecosystem

An impressive 6.5 million acres of once pristine lowland forests, cloud shrouded mountains and carbon rich peat bogs. This diversity of landscapes means that is one of the most biodiverse areas ever recorded, an incredible 130 species of mammals, that’s 1 in 32 of the world’s mammals, call this expanse of forest home! You can also find 382 species of birds including hornbills, hawks, falcons, eagles and owls and 95 reptiles and amphibians such as king cobras, pythons and monitor lizards. But it is not only rich with fauna, perhaps two of its most impressive residents are World Record holders. The Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower and the Amorphophallus the world’s tallest plant thrive in this endangered ecosystem. Aceh is not only vibrant with wildlife it also supports 4 million people who mostly live in coastal areas living subsistent lives growing rice.

 The Leuser Ecosystem Pristine Jungle. Image Courtesy of Rainforest Trust


The Leuser Ecosystem Endangered Species

  • There are fewer than 6,600 individual Sumatran orangutans left in the wild, and about 75 percent of the world’s remaining population live in the Leuser Ecosystem. Some of which were successfully reintroduced after being rescued from the illegal pet trade.
  • Less than 100 individual Sumatran rhinos remain in the wild.
  • 41 percent of tiger habitat has been lost in the last 10 years. Sumatran tigers are critically endangered, with fewer than 400 believed to remain in the wild, a large proportion of which live in the Leuser Ecosystem.
  • Much of Sumatra’s remaining forests consist of areas smaller than 100 square miles—too small for viable elephant populations—however, the forests in the Leuser region are still large enough to support multiple elephant herds.
  • Also provides shelter for the endangered Clouded Leopard, Sun bears and Marbled Cat.
  • The critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill has been documented in the province.


The endangered Sumatran Tiger. Image courtesy of Rainforest Trust


The Economic and Global Importance of The Leuser Ecosystem

Astonishingly it is not its high levels of biodiversity that cause it be valued at $US 400 million per year. It is instead the ecological services it provides both on a local and global scale. It is thought that the province stores over 1.6 billion tons of carbon, most of which is stored in peat bogs. The peat bogs and forests also provide protection to local communities from natural disasters such as fires, floods, droughts and landslides. All of which results in not only economic loss due to damage to agriculture but also the loss of hundreds of lives each year, which will only increase each year as the destruction and degradation continues. Not only does it protect the 4 million residents but it also a source of clean water, irrigation for their agriculture and a sustainable food resources such as fish. Many of these people have lived in the region for generations and each community has their own unique cultural heritage.

School Children of a Local Aceh Community. Image Courtesy of Rainforest Trust


The Threats

Inconceivable this area of both natural beauty of importance is rapidly disappearing. The biggest driving is the skyrocketing global demand for palm oil, a product that is found in vast amounts of processed food, health and beauty products and cleaning products such as ice cream, cookies, frozen meals and lipstick. Vast swathes of forest have been cut down and replaced with endless rows of monoculture plantation, many of which have been planted illegally. The unchecked industrial development of mining as well as pulp and paper plantations and the increase in illegal logging and poaching have all helped to create a perfect storm of degradation.


The Effects of Lost Rainforest

The loss of jungle doesn’t only have to impact those directly living in the area, it has worldwide repercussions.

  • This destruction of naturally occurring jungle dramatically changes the landscape. The peat becomes dried out and highly flammable, the resulting fires send up giant plumes of CO2 which annually can exceed the amount of fossil fuel emissions emitted by all of Western Europe!
  • The extinction of wildlife and the degradation of soil quality will ultimately make it impossible to restore.
  • Changes to the water cycle will lead to a decline in agricultural productivity and fish stocks as the water supply becomes more erratic.
  • More frequent and hard hitting natural disasters leading to an increase in loss of live and agriculture.
  • No longer being able to profit from the preservation values of the forest such as ecotourism and carbon trading.


What is the Rainforest Trust doing

The Rainforest Trust is working with a local partner to purchase private properties in the Kluet Watershed in strategically important locations and thereby blocking key access points into the proposed Gunug Leuser National park. In buying these properties one of the area’s most important watershed areas can now become the 184,795 acre Kluet Wildlife Reserve. The reserve will act as a buffer zone for the National Park, creating a natural barrier that will help to keep out perpetrators of illegal logging and poaching.  By halting access to the National Park and preventing further unsustainable exploitation will help ensure the survival of the Sumatran Rhino, Sumatran Orangutan, Sumatran Elephant, Sumatran Tiger as well as the other species found in the region. To ensure that the newly created Kluet Wildlife Reserve is properly protected Rainforest Trust will employ a well-equipped and highly trained team of rangers that will regularly patrol the reserve to protect it from illegal activity. Rainforest Trust will also construct guard stations throughout the reserve making it easier and more efficient to patrol the entire 184,795 acres of the reserve.

Local Forest Rangers in the Kluet Wildlife Reserve. Image Courtesy of Rainforest Trust


What can You do to Help

  • Avoid purchasing products that use palm oil from unsustainable plantations.
  • Buy products that use recycled wood to reduce the need for logging.
  • Make a donation at the Rainforest Trust website.