The race to save a vital habitat

mother and baby orangutan

Chubb Charitable Foundation supports Rainforest Trust project to protect the threatened Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia.

The sprawling Leuser Ecosystem in Indonesia contains a range of diverse habitats, from coastal peat swamps to high mountain tops. Located on the island of Sumatra, this stunning landscape is the last place on earth where orangutans, elephants and tigers all live together in the wild. But this region faces threats from illegal logging and mining, infrastructure development and the conversion of forest into palm oil plantations. Protecting this habitat is one of the world’s most urgent conservation priorities.

Rainforest Trust, a conservation organization that purchases and protects threatened tropical forests, is among the groups stepping in to protect the Leuser Ecosystem. With the help of the Chubb Charitable Foundation, 2,472 acres of vital habitat is on track to be purchased by Rainforest Trust and Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL), a local conservation group. After the land is bought, it can then be designated by Indonesia as a nationally recognized “Essential Ecosystem Area,” providing additional protection from commercial interests and deforestation.

In addition to its native animal population, the Leuser Ecosystem is globally significant as a source of carbon storage. The land to the protected by Rainforest Trust and its partner currently stores nearly 350,000 metric tons of carbon, equal to about 3 billion miles driven by the average passenger vehicle.

To date, the Chubb Charitable Foundation has contributed $500,000 to Rainforest Trust’s Conservation Action Fund, which focuses on urgent conservation initiatives to protect critical habitats that would otherwise be used for development, agriculture or natural resource extraction. In addition to the project in Sumatra, the foundation has helped fund the expansion of the Papagaios de Altitude Reserve in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil, one of the world's most threatened biodiversity hotspots.

"Sumatra's Leuser Ecosystem is home to many species found nowhere else on the planet, and its forests and peat swamps are a significant ‘carbon sink,’" said Lori Dunstan, Vice President, Global Corporate Giving at Chubb. "Our support for Rainforest Trust’s Conservation Action Fund reflets our commitment to be a responsible steward of the earth, promote the resilience of communities and protect biodiversity against the effects of climate change.”