Boundary clarification for the long-term protection of Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia
From 2020 through 2022, UNESCO Jakarta carried out a project “Towards a sustainable future for the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra UNESCO World Heritage site: integrating management and reviewing boundaries for the long-term protection of the Outstanding Universal Value,” funded by the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust, in close coordination with the Directorate General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia.
Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS), inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004, has been on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2011 due to a number of threats to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) such as road development and agricultural encroachment. The IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to TRHS in 2018 concluded that encroachment remains the most serious long-term threat to TRHS, which is partly attributable to inconsistencies in boundary maps and insufficient boundary demarcation on the ground. In this context, a project was developed with support from the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust to assist the State Party of Indonesia to clarify the property’s boundary that is recognized and respected by all stakeholders for the long-term protection of the OUV of TRHS.
The project facilitated a comprehensive review of the current boundary of TRHS and a series of in-person, virtual meetings and workshops between key partners and stakeholders. A field trip to Tangkahan in GLNP was also organised, which demonstrated how community-based ecotourism serves as an alternative income generator for the local community, allowing them to cease illegal logging and encroachment inside the Park. The series of discussions and key activities contributed to achieving a shared and mutual understanding of the meaning of TRHS as a UNESCO World Heritage site by all stakeholders. As a result, a boundary modification proposal was jointly developed and supplemented by new maps with adjusted boundaries. The proposed boundary modification of TRHS has been acknowledged by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF) and is currently under finalization in MOEF for further consideration among wider stakeholders of TRHS as a final proposal from Indonesia.
The successful project allowed preparing an outline of a significant boundary modification request for TRHS and contributed to achieving the Desired State of Conservation for Removal of the Property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) by complementing and strengthening ongoing efforts by the State Party of Indonesia in view to ensure the long-term integrity and OUV of the site.
Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS) was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004 under the criteria (vii), (ix), and (x). The property is biogeographic evidence of the evolution of the island, which consists of three National Parks: Gunung Leuser (GLNP), Kerinci Seblat (KSNP), and Bukit Barisan Selatan (BBSNP), covering a total area of approximately 2.5 million hectares. It is one of the most extensive conservation areas in Southeast Asia with exceptional biodiversity in terms of both the numbers of species and its uniqueness: an estimated 10,000 plant species, including 17 endemic genera; more than 200 mammal species; and some 580 bird species of which 465 are resident and 21 are endemic.