A river through the Harapan rainforest on a clear day

Harapan Rainforest

Sumatra’s lowland rainforests are hotspots for biodiversity, but they’re under threat from deforestation. We’re working hard to protect one of the last remaining areas of this precious habitat.

Rainforest of Hope

The lowland rainforests of Sumatra are some of the most biologically diverse rainforests in the world, even rivalling the Amazon in terms of the vast number of species they support. However, their accessibility has made them particularly vulnerable to deforestation for timber, agriculture and other development. 

In 2002, Burung Indonesia, the RSPB and Birdlife International joined forces to protect an area of almost 100,000 hectares of formerly commercially logged rainforest and Hutan Harapan – or Rainforest of Hope – was born. 

This area represents around 20% of all the remaining lowland rainforest in Sumatra and is home to 300 species of bird and a number of endangered mammals, including Sumatran elephants and tigers.  

A new approach

Through our work in Harapan, we have spearheaded a new approach to rainforest conservation. Our partnership persuaded the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry to allow private organisations to manage logging concessions in the interests of forest restoration and as a result of this new policy we acquired the rights to manage Harapan as an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC). 

The Indonesian government then went on to strengthen ERC management regulations, enabling ERCs to be managed as forest ecosystems with multiple uses, instead of purely timber concessions. This meant that forest restoration, wildlife conservation and sustainable local development could form the core of our work in the area.

The future for Harapan

Our vision is that, by 2026, Harapan will be sustainably managed for biodiversity conservation, sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem services, including climate change mitigation. We will achieve this by focusing on three main areas:

  • Consolidating and sustaining lowland forest
    The new management plan will engage local stakeholders and focus on restoring the forest, managing secondary forests, rehabilitating degraded lands and developing agroforests (where trees are grown around and among crops and pastures).

  • Building long-term economic sustainability
    We will generate income from forest-based businesses, including ecotourism and sustainable commodities such as rubber and agarwood.

  • Establishing Harapan as a knowledge centre for forest restoration 
    We will build on the RSPB’s expertise in policy and ecological research to ensure that the results of our work in Harapan are shared with key stakeholders in Indonesia and beyond.


A woman taps a tree for rubber

How you can help

Looking up at the rainforest canopy as a bird takes flight

You can support our work to protect tropical forests – and the wildlife and people who call them home – by becoming a Rainforest Guardian today. 


To find out more, visit the Hutan Harapan website. 


Coast on a stormy day

Shashi Kumaran

Commodities and Suatainable Finance Manager


Partners & funding



  • The International Climate Initiative – Federal Republic of Germany
  • The European Union
  • DANIDA – Danish International Development Agency
A man plants trees in a rainforest nursery