Indonesia: Leuser ecosystem must be included in Aceh spatial plan -- Expert

Arif Gunawan Sulistiyono The Jakarta Post 8 Sep 16;

Leuser ecosystem, a UNESCO world heritage site that covers thousands of hectares of protected forest in Aceh and North Sumatra, must be included in the Aceh spatial plan regulation (Qanun RTRWA), former environment minister Emil Salim has stated.

The esteemed professor at the University of Indonesia made the statement in his capacity as an expert witness in legal proceedings pertaining to the Aceh government’s decision to exclude the Leuser ecosystem from the 2013 Qanun on spatial planning.

“The Leuser Ecosystem is one of our national strategic areas and is regulated under national law. Therefore, it must be included in the qanun”, Emil said on Tuesday at the Central Jakarta District Court. Acehnese—grouped under GeRAM—sued the home minister, Aceh governor, and Aceh’s council speaker.

The establishment of the Leuser ecosystem, he explained, dates back to 1920 when Acehnese leaders rejected the Dutch colonial government’s plan to convert the forest and open up mining and plantation companies.

“The Leuser ecosystem is one of the world’s 25-most important and unique ecosystems,” said Emil.

Nurul Ikhsan, coordinator of GeRAM, said the defendants had violated national law by passing the qanun without including the ecosystem. “What the plaintiffs want is not any material gain, what we demand is only that the defendants include the Leuser ecosystem in the Aceh spatial plan.” (ags)

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