Heritage Heroes – Indonesia
Putra on a former oil palm plantation that is ready for clearing.
Photography: Bozica Babic
Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
(Natural World Heritage *2004; World Heritage in Danger: 2011 - Present)
Masyarakat lokal harus melindungi hutan. Dengan melindungi hutan, mereka berarti melindungi kehidupan mereka sendiri.
"Local people have to protect the rain forest. By protecting it, they also protect their own lives. "
As the rain forest in the Gunung Leuser National Park is endangered by logging, plantations, mining and poaching, the biologist and rhinoceros researcher Rudi Putra stands up for the protection of the park. For it is home to elephants, rhinos, orangutans and tigers.
Putra is active for two non-governmental organisations, the Leuser Conservation Forum and HAkA (in English: Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh).
Putra initiated a dialogue – not only with local municipalities and politicians, but also with opponents of forest protection, such as owners of oil palm plantations and poachers.
His strategy proves to succeed: By transmitting his knowledge about the benefits of the rain forest as a source of fresh water and as protection against flooding, he convinced municipalities and politicians. He even motivated former local poachers to engage as wardens in wildlife protection patrols.
48 out of 50 plantation owners accepted to have their illegal oil palm plantation cleared since Putra convincingly conveyed the advantages compared to lengthy court proceedings.
The local collaborators carrying out the clearings are very proud to watch how the open areas little by little are being reclaimed by the forest.