Farwiza Farhan (Far Wiza) works to promote the conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh, Indonesia. The Leuser Ecosystem is the last place in the world where several of the key Sundaland mega-fauna species can still be found together: the tiger, orangutan, elephant, and rhino. Motivated by her passion to protect critically endangered species under extreme threat in this area, Farwiza helped launch a legal case against a plantation concessionaire inside the Leuser Ecosystem. Eventually, the legal case ended in a victory for conservation, and the concessionaire was fined a precedent-setting USD 26 million.
Focusing on the core habitat for critically endangered mega-fauna, Farwiza focuses on ground level species protection on the one hand and high level legal advocacy on the other. This means she deploys a new Wildlife Protection Team to destroy snares and intercept poachers, a Mobile Monitoring Unit to track wildlife and forest crime, and a special law enforcement operation to increase prosecution rates.
Recently, she has mobilized community leaders to conduct a citizen lawsuit seeking to revoke the Aceh Spatial Plan that would otherwise legitimize the building of roads, hydropower schemes, oil palm concessions, and new settlements inside the Leuser Ecosystem. If these plans are implemented, despite lack of approval by the central government, the charismatic species that make it unique will vanish and the Leuser Ecosystem would eventually be destroyed. Most conservationists, considering the challenges to be too great, do not wish to address the threats mentioned above. Farwiza, however, has always understood that a holistic approach to conservation is the most viable path to success.
“Indonesia is at the top of the world list for illegal wildlife trade, logging the rainforest, and establishing monoculture oil palm plantations. All these threats are tackled in the work of Farwiza Farhan. Her efforts in the field and through the courts to protect the Leuser Ecosystem are extremely important for Sumatra and hopeful for the tigers, elephants, and rhinos.” – 2017, Masha Vorontsova, International Selection Committee