REDELONG — The Local Government of Bener Meriah, Aceh Province, has been working on Essential Ecosystem Area/Kawasan Ekosistem Esensial (KEE) development to preserve the biodiversity, especially elephants. When asked in Redelong, the capital city of Bener Meriah, on Tuesday, the officer (Plt) of Bener Meriah Regent, Rusli M. Saleh said that the KEE has 1,000 Ha area. “This KEE is located in Pintu Rime Gayo. This area is the habitat of elephants, bears, deer, and another preserved animals,” said Rusli M. Saleh.

He also said that the development of KEE is a solution to resolve the conflict regarding preserved animals issue, especially elephants with local society. “The conflict between elephants and human being has happened too often. With the development of KEE, we hope it can help us resolve the occurring conflict that has happened since years ago,” explained Rusli M. Saleh. He also hopes that the KEE development will become a pilot project for other cities in resolving the conflict between preserved animals and people.

The Director of Essential Ecosystem Management Construction on The Directorate General of Ecosystem and National Resource Conservation of Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Antung Deddy Radiansyah, is 100% on board with the development of KEE in Bener Meriah. “Bener Meriah is the only region in Indonesia that introduces the concept of KEE. This area will become an excellent example of how the conflict between preserved animals and people should be resolved,” said Antung.

Furthermore, he explained that KEE is an ecosystem that’s located outside the conservation area, which ecologically, has quite a lot of biodiversity that includes natural and artificial ecosystem inside and outside forest area.

In line with what Rusli had said before, Antung also hopes that the development of KEE will resolve the conflict between the preserved elephants and people that has happened since years ago.

“We hope that this KEE is not only being developed by Bener Meriah, but also by surrounding areas. It’s because the elephant exploration doesn’t only take place in Bener Meriah, but also in surrounding areas,” said Antung. He also asked for the local society to please not to pick the plants that are used as elephant food, such as hazelnut.

“If the certain plants are being used for elephant food, the conflict with preserved animals will continue to happen. So, we need to think about what crops or commodities we should plant without being destructed by the elephants,” said Antung in the KEE socialization event.

Besides Antung, there were also the assistant of Secretary District Regional Economic Development of Bener Meriah, Drs. Mukhlis; The Head of BKSDA Aceh, Genman S. Hasibuan; and some of the headmen of several villages there. The KEE socialization was supported by Yayasan Hutan Alam dan Lingkungan Aceh (HAKA), collaborating with The Asia Foundation (TAF) and Bener Meriah Local Government.