Gunung Leuser

Source: Gunung Leuser BR

This biosphere reserve and national park covers a vast area of tropical rain forest in northern Sumatra with a range of ecosystems: lowland evergreen dipterocarp forest, lower and upper montane rain forest, peat swamp forest, forest over limestone, sub-alpine meadows and heathlands, freshwater lakes and rivers, and sulphur mineral pools.

Declaration Date: 1981
Surface Area: 1,094,692 ha
Administrative Division: Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam andNorth Sumatra Provinces

Human activities

More than four million people live within or adjacent to the Gunung Leuser National Park, with many different ethnic groups repre-sented.

Most of them are farmers and depend very much on the protection of this park for their subsistence. Paddy fields, mixed gardens, and small-scale and medium estates of rubber and oil-palm receive a consistent water supply from this park.

Ecological Characteristics

Author: Michaël Catanzariti
Young Orang-Utan In Bukit Lawang, Gunung Leuser National Parc, Nord Sumatra

Gunung Leuser NP is proven as a rich yet vulnerable natural laboratory. Mac- Kinnon and MacKinnon (1986) stated that Gunung Leuser has the highest score for its conservation contribution to Indo Malaya conservation area.

Leuser is a habitat for most fauna, ranging from mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians to fish and invertebrates. It is a region which has the longest list of birds in the world, up to 380 species with 350 of them found in this Park.

Gunung Leuser is also home to 36 of 50 Sundaland endemic bird species. Almost 65% of 129 species of mammals in Sumatra is recorded in this area. Gunung Leuser ecosystem is a habitat for key fauna such as Sumatra elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus), tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) and orang-utan (Pongo abelii).

The Park is also habitat to owa (Hylobates lar) and kedih (Presbytis thomasi). There are also more than 4,000 plant species found in the Park, including 3 of 15 parasite Rafflesia. Thus, it is a habitat of many medical plants (Brimacombe and Elliot, 1996). As a natural laboratory, Gunung Leuser is impor-tant for conservation, education, scientific research for local and foreign researchers and ecotourism. Orangutan Research Station in Ketambe, Southeast Aceh District, is one of the oldest research stations, opened by Dr. Herman D. Rijksen, and is still an interesting location for researchers.

Protection Classifications

Gunung Leuser was declared a national park by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1980, and designated under the decree of the Ministry of Forestry No. 276/Kpts-VI/1997, covering a total area of 1,094,692 hectares.

In July 2004 together with Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks the three parks were inscribed as a World Heritage cluster titled the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS).

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