Verdict for Leuser Ecosystem to Fall on Nov. 8



By Ratri M. Siniwi

 

This article was originally published on Jakarta Globe and is republished with permission.

 

Jakarta. The fate of the Leuser Ecosystem will be revealed on Tuesday (08/11) with judges set to deliver their verdict in a case launched by Aceh citizens.

 

Forest canopy in the Leuser ecosystem, August 2015. Photo: Paul Hilton for RAN

 

The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 21 by Acehnese community leaders against the Minister of Home Affairs, the Aceh Governor and the Aceh local government for excluding the Leuser Ecosystem from the Aceh Spatial Plan 2013-2033.

 

By excluding the Leuser Ecosystem, the Aceh local government will open arms to more mining, logging and palm oil plantations, dismissing the ecosystem’s National Strategic Area status and its Unesco World Heritage Site status for Mount Leuser National Park.

 

“The Leuser Ecosystem is a legacy from my parents, and if I don’t take care of it, it’s like I’m betraying my next generation,” Aman Jarum, a plaintiff in the suit and a member of the Aceh Citizen Lawsuit Movement (GeRAM), said on Thursday (03/11).

 

As the ecosystem is the province’s water catchment area, it plays an essential role as the water source for millions of people in Sumatra.

Due to the hard impacts of climate change, losing water source would mean a gamble on the future of livelihoods around the world.

 

“Climate change is going to turn water into gold; [water is] going to be more valuable,” said former environment minister Emil Salam.

 

As the expert witness for GeRAM, he said in court that destroying the area will also mean destroying the homes of Sumatra’s endemic wildlife.

 

“Leuser is one of the 25 ecosystems in the world with a unique biodiversity and serves as home for 7,500 Sumatran orangutans, 700 Sumatran elephants and 250 Sumatran tigers,” said Emil.

 

According to Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI), there are 53 companies benefiting from the Leuser Ecosystem.

 

Most are palm oil plantations, followed by timber, and pulp and paper companies.

 

“We are not just putting Leuser at stake, but also other ecosystems in Indonesia — what would happen to them?” the former minister stated.

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