The problem is the highly controversial “spatial plan” passed by the Aceh Provincial Government.
The plan completely omits the Leuser Ecosystem — and according to Meijaard that’s because the Aceh government plans to log, clear, mine, and essentially destroy much of the Leuser environment.
That would be a tragedy wrapped in a disaster. The IUCN lists the Leuser Ecosystem — a region of 2.26 million hectares rich in rainforests and peat-swamp forests — as one of the “World’s Most Irreplaceable Places”.
Beyond its unparalleled importance for biodiversity, the Leuser Ecosystem also provides vital environmental services for the people of Aceh — such as reducing flooding and droughts, protecting soils, and providing clean water for people, agriculture, and fisheries.
The forests also store large quantities of carbon essential for limiting global warming.
As Meijaard argues, the natural services provided by the Leuser forests truly are vital.
Imagine the toll from such an event if the Leuser forests — which help to limit destructive flooding — had been largely destroyed.
Meijaard and many others — including 141 scientific, environmental, and social-rights organizations — are urging Indonesia’s federal government to strike down the Aceh government’s ill-advised spatial plan, as the plan can't proceed without federal approval.
Let’s hope common sense prevails in Indonesia, before one of Earth’s most unique and important ecosystems is lost forever.