Indonesian conservationist shortlisted for Whitley Awards

06, Apr 2016 | Author: Embassy of Indonesia

Source  :  Dian Arthen—Writer —–

An Indonesian is among seven finalists in the annual Whitley Awards that recognize the works of conservationists around the globe.

Farwiza Farhan has been chosen out of 130 applicants from all over the world in recognition of her project “Citizen Lawsuits: Defending local livelihoods and Sumatra’s iconic species in the Leuser Ecosystem”.

The Leuser Ecosystem is a forest area located in Aceh that is under threat of being cleared for the industrial development of palm oil plantations.

In an email to thejakartapost.com, Farwiza said that lawsuits she was supporting aimed to empower the local community to have a say in a regulation that would directly impact its members’ livelihoods.

“The threat of flood, landslides, drought and other natural disasters is a very real threat. We hope that members of government will open their hearts and minds and see these demands for what they are. No one person on the list of plaintiffs is expecting any personal financial gain from pursuing this lawsuit. We do this because it’s important for us, for the people of Aceh and for future generations,” she said.

The nine plaintiffs are all community and local leaders who live within and around the Leuser Ecosystem. They are part of Gerakan Rakyat Aceh Menggugat (Aceh Society Action Movement, or GERAM), a grassroots movement that started last year after numerous failed attempts to encourage the Aceh administration and Legislative Council to revise the Aceh Provincial Spatial Plan. The movement wants the spatial plan to designate the Leuser Ecosystem as a “national strategic area” for its environmental value.

Farwiza is the co-founder of Forest, Nature and Environment of Aceh (HAkA), an NGO that aims to create long-term sustainability in the region. Her organization and the Leuser Ecosystem have recently become the subjects of attention after Leonardo DiCaprio posted photos of his visit to the area.

“It was nice. I’m thoroughly impressed by his depth of knowledge and genuine intention,” recalled Farwiza of her meeting with the Oscar-winning actor.

Held by UK-based charity organization the Whitley Fund for Nature, the “green Oscars” awards will present winners with a share of 245,000 pounds (US$351,110) in prizes. The award ceremony is slated to be held on April 27 in London and Farwiza is expected to make a speech about her Citizen Lawsuits project.

“I’ll use the money granted to me to fund community empowerment through Citizen Lawsuits,” said the 29-year-old PhD candidate when asked about what she would do if she won. (kes)

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