A big win for Sumatra's forests!At the beginning of July, SOS funded Panut Hadisiswoyo, Founder of the Orangutan Information Centre, to travel to Poland to lobby the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. His mission was to sound the alarm about plans for a geothermal power plant in the heart of the Gunung Leuser National Park.
Not only are these forests critical orangutan habitat, but are also part of a World Heritage Site. In 2011, the site was listed as ‘World Heritage in Danger’ due to illegal logging, poaching, expansion of oil palm plantations, and fragmentation for new roads. Despite such recognition of the values of the Leuser forests, ongoing and emerging threats, including Aceh’s spatial plan, three proposed large hydroelectric dams and a proposed geothermal site, continue to threaten forests in the heart of the World Heritage Site.
More than 14,000 people around the world signed a petition against the Kappi geothermal project, and Panut personally delivered all the signatures to the World Heritage Committee, as well as speaking to the assembled delegates about the damage that would be caused if the project went ahead.
Panut spoke, and the World (heritage Committee!) listened! The WHC retained the Tropical World Heritage of Sumatra on the list of World Heritage in Danger, and the Indonesian government responded by categorically ruling out geothermal exploration within the World Heritage property!
Panut said: “Like the Indonesian Government, we are committed to see the property come off the ‘Danger list’ but not until all the threats it faces have been addressed. We commend both the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry and Governor Irwandi Yusuf of the Aceh Provincial Government who now have made unequivocal statements ruling out geothermal proposals in the heart of Leuser, but we still have much work to do to reverse the damages that have already been done, and block any attempts at building any new roads or hydro dams proposed for Leuser Ecosystem.”