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Alliance Makes Strides to Save Sumatra Lowland Forest

In Focus, July 2002

Tiger poaching, unsustainable logging and human-elephant conflict are three of the main issues being addressed by CEPF-supported projects to set aside the Tesso Nilo forest of Sumatra as a protected area.

In this effort, led by WWF in Indonesia, more than 30 local organizations have formed an alliance to save Tesso Nilo, which is perhaps the largest remaining area of Sumatra's fast-disappearing lowland forests. Tesso Nilo is believed to harbor the highest levels of lowland forest plant biodiversity known to science.

A new WWF survey of human-elephant conflict in the area indicates that local people are far more likely to react to elephants raiding their crops than to take preventative action. Revenge poisonings have left 16 elephants dead in recent months.

While tiger poaching continues to be high in and around Tesso Nilo, one tiger poacher was convicted in May.

In more good news, the parliament of Riau Province, where the 200,000-hectare forest is located, has agreed to ask Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry to set aside Tesso Nilo as a protected area as soon as possible. The ministry is now consulting with forestry concessionaires about the plan.

Meanwhile, a voluntary logging moratorium agreed to by one of the province's largest pulp and paper producers has been effectively enforced in Tesso Nilo since March. The same company has independently pledged to stop purchasing timber cut from Tesso Nilo, beginning this month.

CEPF is also funding a study by Conservation International in Indonesia to assess the feasibility of using conservation concessions to lease lands in Tesso Nilo earmarked for logging in order to manage them in ways that both protect and restore biodiversity.

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© Conservation International, photo by Haroldo Castro
Asian elephants, Sumatra.

March 2004 Update: New Protected Area Action for Indonesia and the Philippines

CEPF plans to invest $10 million in Sumatra over five years, beginning in 2002. CEPF Investment Strategy for Sumatra

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Photo credits for banner images: (Frog) © CI, Haroldo Castro; (Chameleon) © CI, Russell A. Mittermeier