April 22, 2019

Delegated act could end EU's role in Leuser Ecosystem

JAKARTA ( - In joint letter sent to the European Union, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his Malaysian counterpart Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stressed that if the EU Delegated Act enters into force, they will review their relationship as a whole with the EU and its member states. 

Such a review, implemented if the EU delegated act takes effect, would include an assessment by the Indonesian government of the EU's long-standing role in efforts to protect the Leuser Ecosystem.

The Leuser Ecosystem, which covers an area greater in size than 2.6 million football fields, is the only place on earth where several important wildlife species, most notably critically-endangered Sumatran orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos, co-exist within a single ecosystem

It would, of course, be a great pity if the EU's well-established engagement in the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem comes to an end as a result of an Indonesian government review in reaction to the enactment of the EU delegated act.

Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve, spanning an area greater than that of Singapore, forms part of the Leuser Ecosystem. This reserve is still overwhelmingly dominated by intact peat forests which play host to various critically-endangered species. 

The Planet Explorer images below, presented by Jakarta-based forestry research group Greenomics Indonesia (Apr 15), show Rawa Singkil wildlife reserve (delineated in black) which is still more than 90% composed of intact peat forests. 

Despite persistent evidence indicating that this unique wildlife reserve is under serious threat from destructive practices, as reported by in early May 2018, as of today it remains almost entirely intact, as shown in the photos below.

Leuser Ecosystem incorporated

The EU is certainly aware of the fact that the December 2013 Aceh spatial plan did not initially incorporate the Leuser Ecosystem in its legal document, in response to which environmental NGOs filed a lawsuit that eventually lost in court.

Likewise, it also definitely knows that Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya subsequently took the initiative of incorporating the Leuser Ecosystem into the Aceh spatial plan, as reported by in early November 2016.

The minister's action in this regard encapsulates the Indonesian government's commitment to maintaining the Leuser Ecosystem as an inseparable part of the Aceh spatial plan.

The EU risks losing its entrenched role and engagement in safeguarding the Leuser Ecosystem if the EU delegated act takes effect, thus prompting the Indonesian government to sever its relationship with the EU and its member states in protest.

By mentioning a potential review of Indonesia’s relationship with the EU and its member states - including a review of its partnership with the EU in the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem - in the aforementioned joint letter, President Jokowi is clearly not playing around and should be taken seriously.



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