The Leuser Ecosystem is named after the next highest mountain in Sumatra, namely Mount Leuser (3,404 m). Leuser origins from the Gayo word Leusoh meaning “covered by clouds”. Another meaning of the word is “the last wildlife paradise”. The Leuser Ecosystem constitutes the third largest tropical rainforest complex in the world, after the Amazon forest in Brazil and the Zaire forest in Africa. Located in the northern part of the Sumatran island, authoritatively this area belongs to the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra.
The Leuser Ecosystem covers an area of 2,634,874 hectares. The bigger part is located in Aceh (2,255,577 hectares) and the rest in North Sumatra (384,297 hectares). The area stretches over 13 districts including 875 villages in Aceh and 4 districts including 128 villages in North Sumatra.The Leuser Ecosystem landscape consists of a wide range of habitats including beaches, swamps, rivers, lowlands, highlands and mountains covered in clouds. Leuser is unique as it is the only ecosystem in the world where five rare wildlife species live side by side in the same region, i.e. the Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus), the Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatranus), the Sumatran Tiger (Phantera tigris sumatrae), the Malayan Sunbear (Helarctos malayanus) and the Sumatran Orang-utan (Pongo abelii).
The Leuser Ecosystem is also rich of rare plants such as the tallest flower in the world (Amorpophalus titanium), the largest flower in the world (Rafflesia atjehensis) and the giant palm (Johannesteijsmania altifrons). Besides these, thousands of plant varieties including moss, fungus, ferns, orchids and various giant three species grow affluently in the Leuser forest. Because of its richness in biodiversity, this forest compound has a special attractiveness and is famous worldwide. The Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL) has been recognised as a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO.