ACEH AT A GLANCE
|Forest and peatland coverage
||62% (3,557,916 ha)
||1,840,000 ha (51% of total forest cover) in the Leuser Ecosystem and Tripa Peat Swamp Forests
||The Tripa Peat Swamps are Aceh’s largest carbon stock, and house one of six remaining populations of the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan.
The Leuser Ecosystem is the third largest tropical rainforest complex in the world and habitat to 54% of Asia’s native species.
|Main economic activities
- 23% of GDP: Agriculture, forestry and fishery
- 20%: Mining and quarrying (natural gas, coal)
- Services, trade and retail
- Cash crops and fishing provide income for local communities
|Main threats to forest and peatlands
||Legal and illegal:
- Mining (oil, natural gas, gold, copper)
- Land clearing and burning for palm oil, pulp and other crop plantations
Rainforest in Aceh
Aceh is Indonesia’s most western province, constituting the northern tip of the island Sumatra. Its various waterways
run into the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca, which border the province on three sides. The land is largely
mountainous with the highest peak being the Mount Leuser at 3,000 meters above sea level. Tropical rainforests cover the highlands and ecologically-rich swamps are situated in low-lying areas.
The Leuser Ecosystem is considered one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and the last of its kind in South East Asia. Its 2.6 million hectares of dense rainforest is home to tigers, elephants, rhinos and 92% of remaining Sumatran Orangutans. The fauna is equally unique, boasting over 4,000 plant species including both the world’s largest and tallest flowers. Three peatland areas in Aceh, measuring up to 5 meters in depth, crucially absorb millions of tons of carbon dioxide. Approximately 4 million people rely on the Leuser’s three major waterways and bio-rich soil.
In recent years agriculture has surpassed the mining and quarrying industry to be the biggest sector of Aceh’s economy. The leading exports include rubber, coconut, coffee and nutmeg, with crude palm oil leading. 300,000 tons of crude palm oil are produced annually in Aceh alone and Indonesia is the world’s top producer. The cultivation of these products, among others including areca nut and fruits, supply the income of over 70% of Acehnese locals living inland. For coastal communities fishery is a major supply of livelihood.
However Aceh remains one of Indonesia’s largest reserves of oil and natural gas, and the mining of petroleum, gold and other resources contributes more than one quarter of Aceh’s economy. Small scale gold mining is also common in Aceh. Illegal logging occurs on a huge scale with an estimated 85% of logs in Aceh’s markets come from illegally logged forests.
Threats to forests and diversity
Aceh loses 20,000 ha of forest each year through palm oil plantations, logging, agriculture and mines. 520,000 ha of
protected forest area has been destroyed or degraded. The deforestation rate of the Leuser Ecosystem is 5,500 ha per
year and only 12,267 ha of the original 60,000 ha remains in the Tripa Peat Swamp. The potential loss of these valuable ecosystems will likely lead to the extinction of various plant and animal species including the Sumatran orangutan, and increased droughts and floods in the area.
Newly planted palm oil plantation in Aceh