Inside Sumatra

April 2002

Critical Ecosystem Partnershp Fund (CEPF) staff recently stood amid what some researchers believe is the biologically richest forest in Sumatra and heard only the sound of nearby chainsaws.

The on-the-ground experience brought to life the dire status of Sumatra's forests. World Bank experts predict that all of the island's species-rich lowland forests may be lost by 2005—a catastrophe CEPF's new five-year investment strategy for Sumatra aims to help prevent.

CEPF's Portfolio and Asia Grant directors spent nearly three weeks in Sumatra visiting possible project sites in north Sumatra's Leuser Ecosystem, Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park at the island's southern tip and the south central Tesso Nilo Forest.

In each location, the CEPF directors met with potential grantees and project partners. Potential grantees are now helping to form alliances of nongovernmental organizations in each of the four areas.

Alliances are key to the partnership's Sumatra strategy. The approach emphasizes enabling civil society to monitor, protect and receive sustainable benefits from the lush, multi-canopy rain forest, which provides vital habitat for tigers, rhinos, elephants, sun bears, orangutans and other threatened species.