Deforestation inside Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem -- the last place on earth where critically endangered Sumatran rhinos, tigers, elephants and orangutans co-exist -- declined in 2021 to its lowest level in seven years. Rudi Putra of the NGO Leuser Conservation Forum said this finding from the satellite analysis is in line with what he found from field observations. “In the past, there were still many companies that were actively clearing forests. Nowadays, the deforestation is mostly small scale, less than 5 hectares [12 acres].” He credited increased patrolling and monitoring efforts in 2021, after monitoring was limited in 2020 due to mobility restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it difficult to deploy people to the field to monitor for illegal activity. People also returned to their villages in 2020 after losing their jobs in urban areas, and cleared forests as they tried to make an alternative livelihood, he said.

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