PROVINCIAL SPATIAL PLAN THREATENS PROTECTED LEUSER ECOSYSTEM
The provincial government of Aceh, Indonesia, has adopted a new spatial plan, Qanun 19/2014, that critics worry will have severe consequences for the important Leuser Ecosystem and natural disaster mitigation. The plan makes no mention of the specially protected Leuser Ecosystem, despite the fact that the provincial government gained authority over the area's management in 2006. The plan also ignores rules prohibiting development on slopes graded steeper than 40%, which are intended to protect soils and prevent destructive landslides. Indonesia's central government has identified at least 27 changes that must be made before it would approve the spatial plan, but other actions of the provincial government, like a November regulation outlining procedures for acquiring concession permits within the Leuser Ecosystem, indicate intentions to develop the area regardless of national approval. The Leuser Ecosystem is the last place where Sumatran elephants, rhinoceroses, orangutans, and tigers coexist in the wild. For the full story, see http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1211-meijaard-rps-acehs-pending-disaster.html.