1995 - 2004
The Leuser Development Programme (LDP) grew out of the recognition by the Government of Indonesia (GoI) and the European Commission (EC) that sustainable development depended on the wise use of the ecological services emanating from the world’s wildlands. As a fundamental precondition for the implementation of this programme, a special Conservation Concession to manage the Leuser Ecosystem was given out by the Government of Indonesian to a Foundation specifically created for this purpose - the Leuser International Foundation (LIF). For the duration of the LDP, the Foundation delegated the day-to-day management of the area to a specially created technical body containing both Indonesian and European professional staff, known as the Leuser Management Unit (LMU). After the end of the Programme the task of implementing the management of the conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem reverted to the LIF.
The proposal for the Leuser Development Programme was agreed officially in a signing ceremony in Jakarta in May 1995. Later that year an opening ceremony was held in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital of Aceh, during which the President of the Republic of Indonesia signed a Declaration urging all people to help protect and conserve the Leuser Ecosystem for the benefit of mankind.
The Leuser Ecosystem
The Leuser Ecosystem, located in the provinces of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and North Sumatra, is an area that has an integrated landscape of characteristic flora and fauna, a balanced habitat that supports the sustainable existence of biological diversity and other factors, such that it forms an indivisible unit. The area includes the designated Gunung Leuser National Park and other conservation areas and buffer zones on the periphery. It is approximately 2.6 million hectares in extent and stretches from the shores of the Indian Ocean almost to the Malacca Straits and from the Lake Toba depression to Lake Laut Tawar in the North. It contains the largest contiguous expanse of undisturbed rainforest of the western Indo-Malay Realm in the world.
The Purpose of the Leuser Development Programme
The Purpose of the Project was to create the conditions necessary for the long-term effective conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem.
Period and Funding
The Leuser Development Programme (LDP) began on 10 November 1995 and was originally designed as a seven year project finishing on 9 November 2002. To complete the complex work of finalizing the legal basis for the conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem and its management, a two year extension was agreed by both the Government of Indonesia and the EC through Amendment No 1.
In the Amendment the amount contributed by the EC and GoI was revised so that the total contribution from the EC was in the amount of 31 million Euro and the amount from the GoI was to the value of six million Euro. The extension lasted until 9 November 2004.
Achievements of the LDP
The achievements of the LDP included the issuance of declarations by local communities expressing support towards the conservation of the LE, the establishment of the Elephant Patrol Unit in Aras Napal in cooperation with the Ministry of Forestry, the delineation of the LE boundaries in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra with endorsement from the Minister of Forestry (for Aceh in 2001 and for North Sumatra in 2002), the rehabilitation of the Singkil - Bengkung wildlife corridor, the publication, distribution and socialization of the Buku Ajar Leuser textbooks for elementary, Junior and Senior High Schools in 11 districts in the LE and the construction of the Alur Buluh airstrip in Kutacane, Aceh Tenggara district (completed in July 2004).
Among the major conservation victories achieved were the closure of several road projects that would have destroyed the Leuser Ecosystem, the cancellation of six logging concessions and three inappropriately sited plantations, the termination of several swamp drainage schemes, and the saving of almost half a million ha of forest that would otherwise have been clear felled and converted to agriculture.
Singkil – Bengkung Corridor
The acquisition of the Singkil-Bengkung wildlife corridor was done in cooperation with the Government of Indonesia. The costs for the rehabilitation of the corridor including the settlement of any land claims were borne by the Government of Indonesia as part of its contribution to the LDP. All negotiations with settlers were led by the local Government and monitored for fairness by the LIF and the LDP staff. A few years later, the information coming from the field and from aerial surveys was encouraging. The canopy was returning to something like its original condition. Wildlife moved regularly along their traditional migration routes.