Sustainable Landscape Program Indonesia 

This bilateral program between Switzerland and Indonesia will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fostering climate-resilient economic development in the largest natural ecosystem of Aceh and North Sumatra. 
Project duration
2023 - 2025
Financed by
  • State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO

Earthworm Foundation
Koltiva AG

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-basin) 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:  

  1. Landscape Approach at District Level: The jurisdictional landscape approach (JA) is quite deep and 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.
  2. Integrating Oil Palm Smallholders: The second layer is the intervention on palm oil throughout the Aceh landscape, which will focus on improving sustainable production for smallholders and companies in the LASR Landscape. This includes farmers training and coaching, fields and supply chains mapping, linkage to sustainable supply chains, and improvement of the company sustainability norms.

This project is strategically important for the following reasons:

  • Palm oil is a major sector for Indonesia and, at the same time, a sensitive issue for Switzerland and Europe, requiring an effective engagement strategy.
  • The Government of Indonesia promotes sustainable landscape management and the capability to manage it locally is the key to a success. This project works towards good governance that involves all stakeholders in the designated area to sustainably manage the area. Not only will the local government benefit from the project but this model could be shared with other provinces/ districts in Indonesia.


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). 



Key Achievements (as of December 2023):

Results under the first layer:

  • 38,286 ha (or 5.3% of total land area in the LASR authorities) are under planned and regulated land use at village level. Also included is area land under traceable, certified sustainable palm oil practices.
  • The ecosystems under improved management are included in 14 Village Level Participatory Land Use Plans (PLUP) that have been developed by the Project.
  • Through LASR facilitation, five palm oil companies formalized their commitment to protect and manage 10,151 ha of High Conservation Value and High Carbon Stock (HCV-HCS) areas within their concession.
  • As a result of PLUP processes, 5 villages in Subulussalam issued local regulations (PerDes) that codified the PLUP into community-based land-use management guidelines.
  • For the broader improvement in norms and monitoring of land use change, the MSF members in Singkil and Subulussalam have agreed to collectively work on the RAP-SPO preparation and implementation.
  • In addition to the District Bappeda and government office, another 20 organizations have pledged to see these RAP-SPO’s finalized and adopted.


Results under the second layer:

  • 6 companies have set up their in-house sustainability management competency, institutionalized NDPE policies, and implemented ESG standards in their operations. Another indicator is making their raw materials (Fresh Fruit Bunches) traceable to source. 3 of them obtained Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification in 2023.
  • Through the project assistance, 11 palm oil companies operating in the vicinity of the Leuser Ecosystem (3 of them in LASR districts) have been able to show 100% traceability of their fresh fruit bunches (FFB) to the plantation. This has enabled one company to have 270 independent smallholder farmers in its supply chain become Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified – a key milestone in making sustainable palm oil more inclusive. 
  • In Aceh Tenggara, 375 cocoa farmers are 100% traceable. They are now eligible to receive sustainability premium payments from cocoa processors for their efforts.
  • LASR partners (Koltiva-GAR and EF-Musim Mas) trained 2,638 palm oil farmers and 836 cocoa farmers on GAP and best management practices and reported that 862 farmers applied the materials and learnings from the training sessions.