State of Conservation
Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
- Ground transport infrastructure
- Illegal activities
- Land conversion
- Management systems/ management plan
- Renewable energy facilities
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Management systems/management plan
- Ground transport infrastructure (Road construction)
- Land conversion (Agricultural encroachment)
- Illegal activities (Illegal logging; Poaching)
- Governance (Institutional and governance weaknesses)
- Renewable energy facilities (Geothermal development license adjacent to the property)
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
- Road construction
- Illegal logging
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021
Total amount granted: USD 1,800,000 for the 3-year UNF/UNFIP Project (2005-2007) – Partnership for the Conservation of Sumatra Natural Heritage; USD 35,000 Rapid Response Facility Grant (2007); USD 49,620 from the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust to integrate management and review boundaries for the long-term protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (2020-2021)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 2
Total amount approved : 96,600 USD
|2012||Development and socialization of the emergency action ... (Approved)||30,000 USD|
|2005||Emergency Assistance for the Rehibilitation of ... (Approved)||66,600 USD|
Missions to the property until 2021**
February-March 2006: joint UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2007: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2009: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2011: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; October 2013: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2018: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021
On 6 March 2020, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1167/documents/ and provides the following updates:
- The increased use of patrols based on a Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) has resulted in a consistent decrease in the number of illegal incidents found in the patrolled areas. Data demonstrate the need to target patrols around the property boundaries, where illegal activities are more prevalent;
- Several agreements were signed between the Directorate General of Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystem (KSDAE) and the regional governments to strengthen conservation partnerships concerning the three components of the property, committing not to expand encroachment and to undertake ecosystem restoration;
- The 2018-2022 Ecosystem Restoration Plan is being implemented in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBSNP) in collaboration with local communities to control the spread of Merremia peltata, which covers 22,000 ha (22%) of BBSNP;
- The 2018 forest cover data for the three components of the property are: 2 million ha primary forest; 217,000 ha secondary forest; 9,250 ha secondary swamp forest;
- A national regulation on Strategic Roads in Forest Area was adopted in 2019 and foresees that relevant international institutions must be consulted on strategic roads within natural World Heritage properties;
- An Environmental Evaluation Document has been developed for the Namu-Karo road upgrade in Langkat Regency inside Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP);
- A mitigation strategy has been developed for the Bukit Tapan road upgrade inside Kerici Seblat National Park (KSNP) based on several studies, including a survey using acoustic technology, proposing the installation of guard posts, road signs and speed bumps along with the use of entry restrictions, increased patrols and canopy bridges;
- The commitment not to grant any permits for geothermal energy exploitation within the property is reiterated;
- In GLNP, the Sumatran tiger population density was 0.59 individuals/100km2 in 2018, compared to 0.46 in 2013. The tiger populations in BBSNP and KSNP are also showing an increase, while the latest island-wide occupancy survey is currently ongoing. There is insufficient data to identify population trends for the Sumatran elephant. The estimated Sumatra orangutan population for the whole of Sumatra was 14,470 in 2016. Camera traps are being used to assess the Sumatran rhino population and data are currently being analysed;
- A new KSNP management plan for 2020-2029 is being drafted with the relevant stakeholders;
- Boundary demarcation activities continue. The State Party has started work on the significant boundary modification proposal, which will be coordinated with IUCN.
On 10 September 2019, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party to verify third-party information on plans by the local government to clear 1,306 ha of forest within KSNP and 49,000 ha of forest outside KSNP and BBSNP for plantations and mining. On 23 October 2020, the State Party confirmed that the proposal was under consideration, but that no decision had yet been taken. On 25 January 2021, the World Heritage Centre transmitted IUCN’s technical review and requested that the necessary impact assessments be undertaken and submitted.
On 10 June 2020, 25 January 2021 and 9 March 2021, the World Heritage Centre requested comments from the State Party regarding reported plans to construct a Trans-Sumatran Highway near GLNP and KSNP. In the same letter of March 2021, the World Heritage Centre also requested comments and further information on proposed developments in the vicinity of the property (four hydropower dams and mining projects) and a proposed Muara Situlen–Gelombang road that would cut 18km through GLNP, including the necessary impact assessments. At the time of writing of the present document, no response has been received from the State Party.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021
The signed agreements with the relevant regional authorities to ensure the protection of the property contradict the concerning plans under discussion to clear forest areas within the property. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request that the State Party take urgent measures to immediately halt encroachment linked to logging, plantation development or mining and to scale up forest restoration activities, with priorities given to ecologically sensitive areas, wildlife corridors and roadsides and refrain from considering any further project leading to further deforestation in and around the property. Such efforts are required to meet the forest cover indicator for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR). Taking note of the 2018 data, which will form the baseline for monitoring future forest cover in the property, the State Party should adopt adequate and consistent monitoring mechanisms. Subsequently, it should implement active protection and management measures to meet the indicator, halt encroachment and prevent further proliferation of the invasive species Merremia peltata.
The development of roads in and around the property remains of utmost concern, and it is considered that the national regulation on roads contradicts the DSOCR, which requires that no new road development be proposed within the property. Therefore, the proposed construction of Muara Situlen–Gelombang road through GLNP must not proceed. No decision should be made on proposed developments in the vicinity of the property that may affect its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) until an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been submitted and reviewed by IUCN.
It is regrettable that the Namu-Karo road upgrade (previously Karo-Langkat road), which traverses GLNP, has already been completed. The Committee, in its Decision 43 COM 7A.1, requested the State Party not to commence construction works until an EIA had been undertaken. SMART data shows that critically endangered Sumatran orangutans are present in this area, which was not mentioned in the Environmental Evaluation Document. The bisecting road will fragment the wildlife population in the south-eastern tip of GLNP and may also facilitate access for illegal activities. It is vital to keep the road closed except for emergency evacuation use and to assess how the road upgrade impacts wildlife species, especially the orangutan.
The Bukit Tapan road upgrade appears not to have been undertaken yet. While the proposed mitigation measures are noted, no update is provided on the specific assessment of the OUV requested by the Committee. The Trans-Sumatran Highway proposal, available on the website of the Ministry of Public Works, indicates that the road would be in close proximity to the property, potentially threatening its ecological integrity. No decision should be made for either road proposal before a thorough assessment of any potential impact on the OUV of the property has been undertaken.
The large error margins for Sumatran tiger density data mean that no trend can be obtained, because of low encounter rates and the limited spatial coverage of surveys. The 2017 IUCN Red List assessment shows the continuing dramatic decline of Sumatran orangutan. The continued breeding signs for the Sumatran rhino are positive, but their overall population is understood to be in decline. To meet Indicator 2 of the DSOCR, it is essential that range occupancy of all key species be monitored.
It is noted that the drafting process of the new management plan of KSNP for 2020-2029 is ongoing, and the collaboration with relevant sectors and stakeholders, including local communities, is welcome.
No further details are provided on the reported work on the significant boundary modification. Recalling that the 2018 mission considered the boundary demarcation on the ground to be largely insufficient, continued work is needed to ensure law enforcement and report on its progress. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to closely consult with the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and the UNESCO Office in Jakarta to further develop a proposal for the significant boundary modification, making use of the framework of the newly approved UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust project.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are increasingly alarmed by the continued deterioration of the OUV of the property through encroachment, further road development, impacts of invasive species, continued decline of key species and increasing ecological isolation of the property. It is recommended that the State Party substantially and urgently increase its efforts to implement the corrective measures in order to address the significant threats to the OUV of the property.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7A.52
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
- Recalling Decisions 42 COM 7A.40 and 43 COM 7A.1, adopted at its 42nd (Manama, 2018) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively,
- Expresses its utmost concern over the alarming continued deterioration of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property through encroachment, further road development, impacts of invasive species, the continued decline of key species and increasing ecological isolation of the property, and urges the State Party to increase its efforts to implement the corrective measures in order to address the significant threats to the OUV of the property;
- Appreciating the signing of agreements with the regional governments not to expand encroachment and to undertake ecosystem restoration within each component of the property, also expresses its utmost concern over the plans under discussion to clear forest areas within the property, and also recalling that the indicators for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) stipulate that there should be no further loss of primary forest and no net loss of secondary forest cover in the property, reiterates its request that the State Party take urgent measures to halt all encroachment linked to logging, plantation development or mining and to scale up forest restoration activities, with priorities given to ecologically sensitive areas, wildlife corridors and roadsides;
- Further expresses its utmost concern that the integrity of the property continues to be severely threatened by various road developments, including the Namu-Karo road upgrade inside the Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP), the Bukit Tapan road upgrade inside Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP), the Trans-Sumatran Highway proposal that would be located in close proximity to the property and reported plans for Muara Situlen-Gelombang road through GLNP and, further recalling the indicator for the DSOCR that there should be no new road development or proposal to that effect within the property, also urges the State Party to ensure that:
- No new road development is permitted within the property,
- Any road and development proposal close to the property be subject to a thorough assessment of its potential impact on the OUV of the property, including its conditions of integrity, and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before a decision is taken that would be difficult to reverse, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines,
- The Namu-Karo road is closed for all traffic except for emergency evacuation, and that the impact of the road on wildlife species, especially the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan, is urgently assessed,
- A comprehensive assessment of the impacts of the Bukit Tapan road upgrade on the OUV is undertaken to identify appropriate mitigation measures and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN before any further construction takes place,
- More details are provided on the reported Trans-Sumatran Highway proposal that would be located in close proximity to the property;
- Further urges the State Party to urgently increase its efforts to implement all corrective measures and in particular to strengthen property-wide monitoring of four key species (Sumatran elephant, tiger, rhino and orangutan) as well as to control measures preventing further proliferation of the invasive species Merremia peltata, and requests the State Party to report on progress in achieving the DSOCR for the property;
- Notes that the new management plan of KSNP for 2020-2029 is being developed, and also requests the State Party to submit a copy of the management plan to the World Heritage Centre when it is finalised;
- Recalling furthermore that the 2018 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission considered the boundary demarcation on the ground to be largely insufficient, further requests the State Party to continue the boundary demarcation of the property to halt encroachment, report on progress, and work in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and the UNESCO Office in Jakarta to develop a proposal for the significant boundary modification, with support from the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust project to integrate management and review boundaries for the long-term protection of the property’s OUV;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, including the implementation of the corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session in 2022;
- Decides to retain Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Indonesia) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).