ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOR SCHOOLS & COMMUNITIES AROUND THE LEUSER ECOSYSTEM IN ACEH PROVINCE
(Donor: US Embassy Jakarta)
Life for the people of Aceh can be very difficult as they struggle to survive. In these circumstances, there is little regard given to safeguarding the environment in which they live. Changing attitudes is critical. Residents must be aware of the impacts they have on the environment and the importance of protecting the land and wildlife. One of the efforts to protect and conserve the Leuser Ecosystem is by raising awareness about the significance of the Leuser Ecosystem and the protected areas. Under its awareness raising program, LIF has produced Leuser Textbooks for schools from grades 1 through 12. The local government has recognized the value of these books for environmental education by acknowledging them as supplementary reading material. There are about 5,605 schools including Primary, Junior and Senior High Schools in 17 districts in the Leuser Ecosystem area in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces. LIF has also formed Eco Clubs in 200 schools in several districts in Aceh province with members now consisting of more than 8,000 students. The Mobile Awareness Unit will visit villages and schools around the Leuser Ecosystem to educate the public including students and local communities about the importance of conserving the Leuser Ecosystem. At the moment LIF is operating one Mobile Awareness Unit funded by New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAID) to do its mission in Aceh Tengah and Bener Meriah districts in Aceh province.
One of the LIF projects, the “Aceh Selatan-Singkil Strategic Area Protection Program For Sustainable Community-Based Conservation”, located in the Leuser Ecosystem area in Aceh Selatan district, Aceh Singkil district and Subulussalam (city) and funded by the TFCA-Sumatra program, is the realization of the debt-for-nature swap scheme between the United States Government and the Government of Indonesia to protect tropical forests in Sumatra which have a high rate of deforestation. This program encompasses an area of approximately 374,000 hectares. Elephant territory within the Leuser Ecosystem has been considerably eroded and the Singkil area represents the corridor by which the sole remaining viable population of elephants can move within the greater Leuser area. Another project funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service deals with the Assessment of Rhinoceros habitat areas and corridor development for effective meta-population management in the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh Tenggara district and the Protection of Sumatran Rhinos by Leuser Rhino Protection Units (RPU) in Aceh Selatan district. This project is of great importance for sustainable conservation of the Sumatran Rhinos in the Leuser Ecosystem because it is one of the last surviving habitats left in the world. The project will also benefit other landscape species as it is also home to some of the last wild Sumatran Elephants, Sumatran Tigers and Sumatran Orangutans.
In mid-year 2013 LIF received funds from the US Embassy to support the above two projects currently funded by the US Government through awareness raising and environmental education activities designed for students. This project on environmental education is complimentary to the two other projects in the districts of Aceh Selatan, Aceh Singkil, and Aceh Tenggara and the city of Subulussalam in Aceh province. The Leuser International Foundation will implement an awareness program about the importance to protect forests and their environment, especially to reach schools and communities in 3 districts (Aceh Selatan, Aceh Singkil and Aceh Tenggara) and the city of Subulussalam.
The major objective of this eight month project is to build awareness on the importance of conservation that will lead to behavioral change. By educating the students and the community about the significance of conservation, we increase their awareness about the importance of protecting the environment since childhood. The specific objectives are to increase the awareness and the involvement of local communities in conserving the Leuser Ecosystem; to educate local school children about the Leuser Ecosystem and raise their awareness about the conservation of the species; to prevent people from hunting and killing these animals through the dissemination of information concerning the conservation of forests, wildlife and plants in the Leuser Ecosystem, especially the Sumatran Rhino, the Sumatran Tiger, the Sumatran Elephant, the Sun Bear and the Sumatran Orangutan; to encourage greater participation by the local communities, NGO’s and the relevant local government agencies in conserving and protecting the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh province; and to make the communities realize the importance of safeguarding and conserving the Leuser Ecosystem from now on.
The project carried out activities relating to the Leuser Textbooks including printing, socializing and continuing the training in four other locations within these 3 districts (Aceh Tenggara, Aceh Selatan, Aceh Singkil) and one city (Kotamadya Subulussalam). LIF was also engaged in forming Eco Clubs for students in schools. Various field-based and nature-related activities were undertaken to encourage students to appreciate nature and eco club were formed. The Mobile Awareness Unit (MAU) visited schools in the area, and disseminated environmental information and knowledge to stimulate some positive changes in behavior and attitude towards the surrounding environment. Materials such as questionnaires, information boards, information booklets, and posters were produced as part of this project and made available for use by visitors and local communities.