Up the Tamiang River, residents of the Pining community heal the wounds of the Leuser ecosystem, the largest jungle area on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Plant thousands of new trees to integrate into the ecosystem.
“We are surrounded and we cannot get out”Usman Ali said. The reason: devastating floods in the Leuser ecosystem, the only place on the planet where elephants, tigers, orangutans and rhinos live together. Tropical rains can turn rivers into raging torrents.
According to the indigenous inhabitants of the small villages in the jungle, the cause lies in the deforestation of this area, which is nevertheless protected. Logging for tropical timber, palm oil plantations and mining have been opening wounds in remote areas for years. Exposed soil can no longer absorb rainwater. In 2021, some people lost their lives in the nearly 1,500 floods and 300 landslides that occurred in the region.
But there is hope for Leuser
People are taking their destiny and that of the forests of the Leuser ecosystem into their own hands. Because “forests protect us from floodsand “have not only ecological value, but also economic value,” says Usman Ali. Along with others in his community, Usman started the Pining Tigers Forum, for forest and river guardians, several years ago. They defend the jungle against loggers and illegal poachers. They are defending themselves against the big companies that want to operate there and against the government that plans to install hydroelectric plants.
Upstream of the Tamiang River, with Salva la Selva, a nursery with seedlings of forest and fruit trees is being built. Initially, 100 hectares will be reforested. 10,000 plants are already ready. And we continue to work.