Saving Sumatra: Indonesia reaches historic agreement to protect world’s most endangered tropical forests



Posted on 09 October 2008  | 
Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia.
Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia.
© WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARIEnlarge
Barcelona, Spain – The Indonesian government and WWF today announced a bold commitment to protect the remaining forests and critical ecosystems of Sumatra, an Indonesian island that holds some of the world’s most diverse – and endangered – forests. The historic agreement represents the first-ever island-wide commitment to protect Sumatra’s stunning biodiversity.

The commitment announced today at at the IUCN World Conservation Congress has been endorsed by governors of all provinces across Sumatra, the world’s sixth-largest island, and was also endorsed by four Ministers. Sumatrais the only place on Earth where tigers, elephants, orangutans and rhinos co-exist.
“This agreement commits all the Governors of Sumatra’s ten provinces, along with the Indonesian Ministries of Forestry, Environment, Interior and Public Works, to restore critical ecosystems in Sumatraand protect areas with high conservation values,” said Hermien Roosita, Deputy Minister of Environment. “The Governors will now work together to develop ecosystem-based spatial plans that will serve as the basis for future development on the island.”

WWF, CI, FFI, WCS, and other conservation groups working in Sumatrahave agreed to help implement the political commitment to protect what remains of the island’s species-rich forests and critical areas. The island has lost 48 percent of its natural forest cover since 1985. “WWF is eager to help make this commitment a reality to protect the magnificent tropical forests across Sumatra. These forests shelter some of the world’s rarest species and provide livelihoods for millions of people," said Mubariq Ahmad, CEO of WWF-Indonesia.

More than 13 percent of Sumatra’s remaining forests are peat forests, which sit atop the deepest peat soil in the world; clearing these forests is a major source of carbon emissions that cause climate change. “By protecting these forests from deforestation, Sumatra will provide a significant contribution to mitigate global climate change,” said Marlis Rahman, Vice Governor of West Sumatra Province.

“There are a lot of challenges in the future to ensure the successful implementation of the commitment,” said Noor Hidayat, Director of Conservation Areas at the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. “A broad-based effort involving local and national government officials, financial institutions, NGOs, and communities needs to work together to make this commitment a reality.

“We are calling international communities to support us in implementing the commitment on the ground,” Rahman said.

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For further information:
In Barcelona:
Marlis Rahman, Vice Governor of West Sumatra, + 62 811661841, marlisrahman@unand.ac.id
Ian Kosasih, Forest and Terestrial Program Director, WWF-Indonesia, +62 811110697, ikosasih@wwf.or.id
Jan Vertefeuille, WWF-US, +1 202 492 0597 or janv@wwfus.org
In Indonesia: Israr Ardiansyah, Media Relations, WWF-Indonesia : +628888742445, iardiansyah@wwf.or.id

Notes for Editors:

· B roll to accompany this story is available at www.panda.org/broadcast.
· Please contact WWF media relations, +41 79 7031952 or pdickie@wwfint.orgfor photos
· One forest on the island, Tesso Nilo, has the greatest vascular plant diversity of any lowlandforest ever studied – with more than twice the plant species in the Amazon.


About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

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Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia.
Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia.
© WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARI Enlarge

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