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Deforestation wanes in Indonesia’s Aceh and Leuser Ecosystem, but threats remain, NGO says

05 / 02 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

ACEH, Indonesia — Deforestation slowed last year in the Indonesian province of Aceh, home to the Leuser Ecosystem biodiversity hotspot, according to a local forest watchdog. The province, which spans 58,377 square kilometers (22,539 square miles) on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, lost 173 square kilometers (67 square miles) of forest in 2017, according to data from the group Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAkA). That was down nearly 18 percent from area of forest lost in each of the past two years. Much of the slowdown in deforestation was recorded within the Leuser Ecosystem, one of Indonesia’s last large tracts of intact rainforest, which is home to four of the most iconic and critically endangered species on Earth: the Sumatran tiger, rhino, orangutan and elephant. Some 87 percent of the Leuser ecosystem, which spans more than 26,000 square kilometers (10,040 square miles) lies inside Aceh, and the rest in North Sumatra province. Agung Dwinurcahya of HAkA attributed the decline to better law enforcement and intensifying campaigns to protect the endangered ecosystem. “NGOs’ efforts on the ground and their cooperation with the government, such as through the Integrated Forest Management [KPH] unit and law enforcers, seem to have been effective in slowing down the deforestation rate,” he told Mongabay. “We’ve seen an increase in public awareness as well, especially within the Leuser Ecosystem, as we see the deforestation there declining every year.” In 2017, HAkA recorded the lowest rate of deforestation within the Leuser Ecosystem in…

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