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Protecting Asia's Green Sanctuaries

A handful of sites around Asia-Pacific are in danger of losing their elevated environmental status, though tourists can help offset the modern-day stresses by simply following the rules. By CHRISTOPHER KUCWAY.

Published on Oct 12, 2017


SUMATRA'S RAINFORESTS offer a host of superlatives, among them the 3,805-meter Gunung Kerinci, Indonesia's tallest volcano. One of the largest conservation areas in Southeast Asia, the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra is on the unesco World Heritage List, though more recently has made headlines for being one of 55 sites around the world that are in danger of losing their environmental heritage status. A handful of sites around Asia-Pacific—including in Afghanistan, Madagascar and Micronesia—fall into this category, one that lists problems about environmental degradation and nearby development.

Rainforest in West Sumatra.
Rainforest in West Sumatra. Barry Kusuma/Getty Images.

In Sumatra's case, the concerns revolve around road development and agricultural encroachment, both of which often lead to illegal logging or poaching.

A vast island, Sumatra was once a green swathe of tropical rainforest, though today only remnants of this remain, including three national parks that are included on the World Heritage List. Together, Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan are critically important refuges for the forest's future evolution, home to more than half of Sumatra's plant diversity.

Visitors can help simply by following park management rules outlined by local rangers. Permanent residents, including the Sumatran orangutan and the more than 580 bird species, would no doubt appreciate it.

An orangutan in Gunung Leuser National Park.
An orangutan in Gunung Leuser National Park. SCUBAZOO /Profile Photo Library.



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An orangutan in Gunung Leuser National Park. SCUBAZOO /Profile Photo Library.
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