What do you know about South Sumatra


A maximum of biodiversity

In Indonesia there is still more than ten percent of the world's rainforest with an unbelievable biodiversity. But the forests are endangered, because where palm oil plantations arise, the forest disappears.

The Harapan rainforest is one of the last tropical forests in which the Sumatran tiger still lives. - Photo: T. Herzog

Indonesia is one of the most biologically diverse countries on earth. There are most mammal species worldwide (530), more than 37,000 plant species, with 1622 an impressive 17 percent of the world's bird species, 520 reptile species, 270 amphibian species, 1,900 species of butterflies and 1,400 species of freshwater fish.

If one counts terrestrial and aquatic organisms together, Indonesia is at the top of the world as the most biodiverse of all countries. One in three species in Indonesia is endemic, which means that this species cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Hardly any other country has so many of these species.

Biofuels for Europe at the expense of forests

Many species have hardly been researched, but have become very rare. - Photo: rspb-images / C. Kendall

Inestimably valuable habitats are being destroyed in the tropical rainforests, for example in order to produce cosmetics and food, but also increasingly biofuels from palm oil. This destruction releases more climate-damaging carbon dioxide than biofuels can save by replacing fossil fuels. The education of private and industrial consumers as well as the pressure on the suppliers are therefore central starting points for an effective protection of tropical forests. NABU and its partner organizations therefore advocate strict sustainability standards when importing products made from renewable raw materials. In particular, transport policy in Europe must not lead to the destruction of rainforests and the loss of biological diversity in the countries of origin.

Harapan rainforest

The rainforest area "Harapan Rainforest" is located in the provinces of South Sumatra and Jambi on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and covers 1,000 square kilometers. As recently as 1900, the arid lowland rainforests, to which Harapan belongs, comprised around 16 million hectares on Sumatra. Today there are only 400,000 to 600,000 hectares left.

An oil palm plantation near the Harapan rainforest - Photo: RSPB / C. Kendall

Economically exploited areas like Harapan are no longer real "primeval forests". Nevertheless, it is astonishing how many animals and plants were able to survive in smaller trees, in the undergrowth and in the rivers that run through the rainforest. As a habitat, this forest still has an extremely high value and can be restored with careful care.

"Harapan Rainforest" is a joint initiative of the Indonesian nature conservation organization Burung Indonesia, the British bird protection association Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the international nature conservation organization BirdLife International. As part of the funding from the Federal Government's International Climate Initiative (IKI) through KfW Development Bank, NABU supports the project in the form of appeals for donations, technical advice and the communication of findings to political decision-makers.

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