Fighting for the Leuser Ecosystem – A lecture by FFN laureate Farwiza Farhan – 21 June 2017

If protecting one of the most precious ecosystems in the world is your daily work, you probably have a lot of interesting things to tell. Indeed, during her interactive lecture in Amsterdam, Farwiza Farhan showed us how complex her work is, but even more how important it is to conserve the last place on earth where rhinos, tigers, bears, orangutans and elephants roam together.

Farwiza is the founder of the HAkA, an organisation that defends local livelihood and the nature in the Sumatran Leuser ecosystem. The thing that struck me most are all the different things Farwiza and her organisation do to protect the Leuser ecosystem. It’s not just about doing research or patrolling the forest, conservation also involves lobbying, informing, listening to the voice of local people and actively restoring parts of the ecosystem. All of these are part of Farwiza’s daily activities.

During her talk, Farwiza stressed that despite the many setbacks, there is still a spirit of conservation optimism. Amongst many setbacks, there is successes to be celebrated. People in the western world are more and more aware of the problems that the consumption of palm oil is causing. Also, Farwiza explained that after a couple of weeks after the palm oil plantation is brought down, the first elephants already return to the area! Restoration is possible. However, for orangutans this takes much longer, she said. It is incredible to see the amount of effort they all put in the HAkA organisation, but this shows that there still is a lot of work to do.

Farwiza showed us that conservationists can really make a difference and I think that I speak on behalf of all other visitors if I say that we all truly felt inspired by her talk.

By Ruben Hoekstra

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