The Gunung Leuser National Park

The Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the richest tropical rainforests in South East Asia and is located in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and placed on a list of world heritage sites in danger in 2011,

the Gunung Leuser National Park covers around 1,095,000 ha in northern Sumatra and has amongst one of the most diverse

biodiversity in the world by housing thousands species of indigenous animals, insects and plants.
This amazing rainforest provides also a home for endangered and protected species like the Sumatran Tiger, Rhinoceros, Slow Loris, Elephant and of course the wonderful people of the forest, the Sumatran Orangutans!

A rainforest with a unique biodiversity

The rainforest covers around 1,095,000 ha and peaks at 3,404 m with the summit of Gunung Leuser which gave the name to the National Park ! Its unique eco-system hides rivers, volcanoes and lakes. This rainforest is the most  biodiverse in South East Asia with an amazing fauna & flora. It hosts approximately 750 different animal species – more than 200 mammals, 580 birds, 300 reptiles and amphibians. It is the only place in the world where you can see the big Sumatran mammals Tiger, Rhino, Elephant & of course the Sumatran Orangutans. Amongst these 200 mammals species, there are 8 species of primates living in the jungle : the Siamang, the Thomas Leaf Monkey, the White-Handed Gibbon, the Pig-tailed Macaque, The Long-tailed Macaque, the Silver Leaf Monkey and the Slow Loris. The Gunung Leuser National Park also has an enormous richness of plant species. The flora contains approximately 10.000 plant species, including the spectacular Rafflesia Arnoldi and Amorphophallus titanum, the biggest and the highest flower in the world.

Threaten by palm oil plantations

The wonderful Gunung Leuser National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage Site (listed 2004). In 2011 it was placed on the list of world heritage sites in danger. Scientists estimate that 98% of Indonesia’s forests will be destroyed by 2022 and Greenpeace estimates that Indonesia destroys about 51 square kilometers of forests every day, equivalent to 300 football fields every hour.

The biggest threats to the rainforest in North Sumatra, are of course palm oil plantations, mining concessions and induced road development, agricultural encroachment but also illegal logging and poaching. In recent years efforts are undertaken for conservation purposes including attempts to establish community forests as well as other community development activities, and many tropical forests are now under government protection. However the extinction of endemic species especially plants and some of the world’s most endangered animal species remain a great threat!

Home of many endangered species

The 1,095,000 hectares of tropical rainforest which make up Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the last places in Indonesia where the increasingly endangered Sumatran Rhinos, Tigers, Elephants and Orangutans all live. Due to the increasing threats (deforestation, forest degradation, loss of habitat, etc.) to Sumatran rainforest ecosystems, all these endangered species and other fauna & flora species could disappear in the year to come. 

Visiting Bukit Lawang is a good way to save the rainforest ! 

UNESCO and Gunung Leuser NP are collaborating to improve the Gunung Leuser National Park conditions and local capacities for ecotourism market development, as well as promoting the National Park as an international ecotourism stop. The example of Bukit Lawang has shown that tourism can make a difference in changing the attitude of communities towards the rainforest. Once local communities start receiving incentives from the presence of tourism, they will support and protect the biodiversity in the Park and significantly reduce forest crimes in these areas

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