Quick Facts About Sumatra
Sumatra is the world’s sixth-largest island and the second-largest Indonesian island, after Borneo. This island has diverse natural forest types; 218 species of vascular plants were recorded in a single 200-square-meter plot of dry lowland forest in the Tesso Nilo landscape of central Sumatra, more than twice as many as recorded in the Amazon or any other forest studied. No lowland forest known to science comes close to matching the hyperrichness of species diversity in Tesso Nilo. Sumatra is also high in plant endemism – plants found nowhere else in the world -- including exotic species like the tallest flower in the world, titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum). Many of these natural forests are also important to protect deep peat soil underneath, which is concentrated mainly on the eastern coast of the island.
Yet Sumatra has seen the highest rate of natural forest loss not only in Indonesia but also in the world, due to transmigration, pulp & paper and palm oil production, and other development. Between 1985 and 2007, the island lost 12 million hectares of natural forest, a 48% loss in 22 years. By 2007, the island had only 30% forest cover (13 million hectares). The lowlands on the east side of Sumatra’s mountain ranges especially are at high risk of extinction. Some areas there lost more than 70% of their natural forest cover and are close to being lost forever.