Gunung Leuser National Park



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Protecting Critical Orangutan Habitat through Strengthening Protected Areas and Improving Ecotourism

  • “Wildlife species, such as elephants and tigers have been recorded in restored areas in Cinta Raja site, including an Orangutan nest”.
  • “Ecotourism awareness raising activities are promoting Gunung Leuser NP as a tourism destination as well as increase public education and awareness to protect the orangutan and its habitat.”.
  • “Improved capacity for survey, monitoring and management has resulted in effective protection of critical habitat for the orangutan in the GLNP”.

  • There is increased capacity and equipment for efficient management, monitoring and protection of Gunung Leuser National Park.
  • Initiatives developing community-based ecotourism have been supported.
  • Degraded critical orangutan habitats have been restored.

The Gunung Leuser National Park covers an area of 7,927 km² in northern Sumatra. Combined with the adjacent national park of Batang Gadis and Singkil Wildlife Sanctuary, this region forms one of the largest protected areas of Indonesia. With a high number of endemic species, it covers a wide range of ecosystems and encompasses a diverse range of wildlife, including the charismatic but critically endangered orangutan, tiger, rhino and elephant. Since the early 1900s the number of orangutans in Sumatra has decreased by more than 90 per cent. The current remaining population is estimated around 6,600 individuals.

Strengthening the management of the park to protect the critical orangutan habitat in this region was the main objective of this LifeWeb project. Providing support to community-based ecotourism initiatives and improving the staff capacity and equipment for implementing field monitoring activities was also undertaken between 2011 and 2014.

Habitat restoration activities were developed through monitoring the ecosystem restoration efforts in the Cinta Raja resort and by expanding the existing restoration efforts to other critical orangutan habitats by at least 30 hectares. Several types of wildlife, such as elephants and tigers, had been seen in the restoration corridor and an orangutan nest was discovered.

There has been significant improvement in forest cover over the last five years since the restoration activity started in Cinta Raja and planting in newly identified restoration areas was implemented. As a result of this research,  guidelines for scientifically sound ecosystem restoration have been produced. Additionally, field guidelines for orangutan rescue were produced after a workshop in collaboration with the Indonesian Orangutan Forum and key stakeholders and political representatives.

The project improved law enforcement by building staff capacity through the framework of resort-based management, a new national park management method in Indonesia to increase field monitoring frequency and data quality and the motivation of park staff. Equipment to carry out monitoring and conduct patrols was provided by the project.

The project implemented activities to support communities surrounding the national park to develop ecotourism and protect the park, as was demonstrated in a socioeconomic survey carried out in 2013. The review of the Tangkahan Ecotourism Development Plan discussed micro-spatial planning for the area and identified the need for ecotourism zoning regulations. This was undertaken by this LifeWeb project, in addition to the creation of a village regulations to support the Tangkahan Ecotourism Master Plan to regulate restrictions imposed on tourism. Training for the local community was provided to improve their capacities to support the sustainability of Tangkahan ecotourism. Furthermore, an organic farming plot, developed as a demonstration of an alternative livelihood option for communities, and a tree adoption programme to encourage visitors to participate in the ecosystem restoration project, were established.

Conservations activities and restoration of degraded areas (through ecotourism and sustainability programmes) implemented to support orangutan in this area and involving the community in the maintenance of the park, have been successful achievements. These activities should continue in order to avoid a degradation of the area and the wildlife habitat.

Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia

Gunung Leuser National Park; Leuser Ecosystem Management Body (BPKEL)

Nature Conservation Agency (BKSDA); Orangutan Information Center (OIC)

Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP)

Indonesian Orangutan Forum (FORINA)

Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI)

Sumatra Eco Explore (SEE)

Tangkahan Tourism Institution (LPT)

DESMA Center

SIMPUL Indonesia