The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra is composed of three protected areas on the island of Sumatra, western Indonesia. The three protected areas are the Gunung Leuser National Park, the Kerinci Seblat National Park and the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. All 3 of them together represent the most significant remnant of forest in Sumatra and are home to the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan, Tiger, Rhinoceros and Elephant. The 3 protected areas are managed by the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Forest Conservation (PHKA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry.
View photos of the area
Indonesia is one of the seven countries of the world with the most biodiversity. It contains 10% of the world’s flowering plants, 12% of the world’s mammals and 17% of the world’s reptiles, amphibians and birds. Sumatra is recognised by WWF and Conservation International as an area of high conservation interest.
Area and establishment date
The Gunung Leuser National Park was established in 1980 and has a surface of 862 km2. The Kerinci Sablat National Park was established in 1992 and has a surface of 1375 km2. The Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park was established in 1982 and has a surface of 356 km2. Together they cover a surface of nearly 2600 km2.
The 3 national parks were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2005, following a recommendation from IUCN. IUCN is the advisory body for natural and mixed heritage properties to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
Flora and Fauna
Biodiversity in the forests of Sumatra is exceptional and the three protected areas are the only remaining home for most of the Sumatran critically endangered big mammals. From a biodiversity and ecological perspective, there is no comparable area within Indonesia. It has one of the highest fauna diversity of the world, including 22 asian species not found elsewhere. It’s an important habitat for four threatened endemic mammals, the Sumatran tiger, orang-utan, rhinoceros and elephant and has more than 58 species of birds that are on the IUCN red List of threatened species. All 3 of the parks are an essential climatic refuge for species and have become critically important for species future evolution.
With most of the Sumatran forest outside of the parks having been destroyed for palm oil plantations, encroachment by local communities and industrial plantations are major threats to the parks. Legal enforcement of protection of the parks is difficult due to the complexity of management issues. The Indonesian government is working on these issues by increasing park staff; ensuring laws are put in place to avoid illegal logging and deforestation for agricultural purposes and by closing logging roads throughout the parks. Working with local communities to ensure their participation, understanding and collaboration in the protection of the three parks communities is essential to ensure the protection of the long-term protection of the three parks.