Using a Landscape Approach, the program follows Indonesia’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 29% or by 41% with international support. The Program also aims to slow down deforestation and stimulate economic growth by improving land productivity and sustainable commodity production.
The Program seeks to contribute to good governance and sustainable management of selected Indonesian landscapes that can benefit from intact natural ecosystems and improved agricultural production. The integration in (global) sustainable value chains will create income opportunities for its inhabitants and eventually result in reducing poverty as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
The LASR (Leuser Alas-Singkil River) Landscape located in Aceh province on Sumatra island includes the districts of Aceh Singkil, Subulussalam, and Aceh Tenggara. This region is at elevated risk of further deforestation and soil degradation through agricultural development.
The approach to the Leuser Alas-Singkil landscape will have two layers:
Landscape Approach at District Level: The jurisdictional landscape approach will involve the local authorities and district-level stakeholders. The districts of Singkil and Subulussalam are an area of high conservation value (HCV) and high carbon stocks (HCS) but they are underserved. Aceh Tenggara district is an integral part of the Alas Singkil Water shed and allows for the promotion of cocoa production.
Integrating Oil Palm Smallholders: The second layer focuses on increasing the sustainable production of oil palm throughout the Aceh landscape. The project will also include training for oil palm smallholders and linking them to sustainable supply chains.
This project is strategically important for the following reasons:
The Leuser Ecosystem Area is defined by the Leuser National Park and contains large tracts of lowland and montane forests that are home to Sumatran mega biodiversity–tiger, elephant, rhino–and 375,000 ha of prime orangutan habitat. Forested buffer zones surrounding the national park are delineated by watersheds and are currently gazetted as protection as well as production forests. As the biggest forest block in northern Sumatra, the Leuser landscape is vulnerable to the risk of habitat loss due to forest conversion to palm oil plantation, illegal logging, and encroachment for residence.
The Leuser National Park and Ecosystem Area straddles Aceh and North Sumatra Provinces, spanning 2.6m hectares, or more than half the area of Switzerland, with lowland, montane rainforests, one national park, nine sizable rivers, three lakes and over 185,000 hectares of carbon-rich peatlands. Leuser ecosystem areas are spread over the areas of 13 districts in Aceh and 4 districts in North Sumatra.
The Leuser ecosystem is the last and greatest chance to preserve Sumatra’s immense biodiversity because much of the island’s remaining forests are being burnt to the ground. From 2001-2020, nearly 300,000 hectares of forest were lost within the Leuser Ecosystem, equating to almost 15,000 hectares per year on average, or 10.5% of the total forest cover within 20 years. The decimation continues today. Despite its protected status, Leuser National Park itself has lost one-fifth of its lowland forests to illegal commercial activities in just the past five years. At that rate, the lowland forest will have disappeared within two decades. The two primary drivers of this forest loss have been expansion of ‘other cropland’ (>50% increase to 2001 levels) and oil palm plantations (24% increase).