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Indonesia’s Women Forest Defenders

A mountainous tropical forest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the Leuser Ecosystem is the last place on earth where the elephant, rhino, tiger, and orangutan still roam together in the wild. But the forest is under pressure from poachers, illegal loggers, and miners, who strip the land of resources, causing floods and destroying villages. Now, a band of forest defenders, organized and led by women, is demonstrating that social forestry can stop this destructive exploitation by engaging the communities whose lives are entwined with the health of the forest. Beginning with a handful of women in just one village, now, thanks to The Asia Foundation, there’s an Aceh Women Forest Defenders Movement in 15 villages patrolling and protecting the forest.

Their remarkable success is due, in part, to our 2023 Lotus Leadership award honoree HAkA, an Indonesia-based organization that supported the women forest defenders’ efforts to petition the government for the right to protect and manage their forests.

Related locations: Indonesia
Related programs: Lotus Circle, Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality
Related topics: Land and Forest Governance