Batang Toru forest is becoming increasingly important as the last habitat of the world's most endangered species of great apes, the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis). (JG Photo/Andra Filemon)
NSHE Commits to Preserving Tapanuli Orangutan's Habitat
BY : ANDRA FILEMON
MAY 21, 2019
Batang Toru, North Sumatra. North Sumatra Hydro Energy, the company behind Batang Toru hydroelectric power plant in North Sumatra, has pledged a commitment to preserving the forest habitat of rare and protected animals, including the Tapanuli orangutan.
The company, also known as NSHE, will use 650 hectares of forest area designated by the government for other uses for building a dam and the power plant. The area is outside the 163,000-hectare primary forest, protected forest or conservation land known as the Batang Toru forest.
Firman Taufick, the vice president of communications and social affairs at NSHE, said the company implements strict measures to minimize the impact of the project on all wildlife within the Batang Toru area.
"We apply zero tolerance policy. Employees or project workers, whether experts from abroad or local workers will be subject to sanctions if they disturb wild animals," Firman told the Jakarta Globe in a visit to the project early this month.
"We also coordinate with North Sumatra BKSDA when finding protected animals," Firman said, referring to Indonesia’s nature conservation agency.
For the world, Batang Toru forest is becoming increasingly important as the last habitat of the world's most endangered species of great apes, the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).
The forest is also a home for tapirs, sun bears, Sumatran forest goats, golden cats and Sumatran tigers which are native species of this region.
Agus Djoko Ismanto, an environmental senior advisor at NSHE, said the 510-megawatt hydropower plant has a negligible footprint in the orangutan habitat of Batang Toru forest.
"We are ready to contribute in every effort to preserve the existence of the orangutan," Agus said.
“According to our study, there is only one point along the Batang Toru river that links two orangutan habitats in the west and east [side of the river]... the hamlet of Sitandiang," Agus said.
He said the company pays special attention to the hamlet to keep the orangutan corridor open and undisturbed by human or commercial activities.
Agus said out of a total area of 650 hectares controlled by NSHE, only 120 hectares were effectively inundated by the dam and used for the power plant. The rest will be maintained or replanted with various types of trees, especially fruit trees that are endemic to the Tapanuli area.