People share what they loved in the 90s

Farwiza Farhan grew up in Indonesia and always loved the sea. That is why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that working in the sea was not enough. She needed to protect it.

“I see the marine ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change,” she says. “I felt powerless and did not know what to do [so] I decided to take my master’s degree in environmental management. “

This choice made her work on environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her home to the Leuser ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia – one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinos still live. in the wild today. It is also home to over 300 bird species, eight of which are endemic to the region.

“When I first flew over the Leuser ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a cohesive block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. Leuser is truly a majestic landscape – one of a kind.”

She fell in love. “I had my first encounter with orangutans in the Leuser ecosystem,” she recalls. “As the baby orangutan swung from the branches and apparently played and had fun, the mother observed us. I was moved by the experience.”

Lent by Farwiza Farhan

“Over the years,” she continues, “the encounters with wildlife, with humans and with the ecosystem itself. My curiosity and interest in nature has become a deep desire to protect this biodiversity.”

So she started working for a government agency that was tasked with protecting it. After the agency was wound up for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to set up the HAkA fund.

“Measurements [of HAkA] is to protect, preserve and restore the Leuser ecosystem while catalyzing and enabling fair economic prosperity for the region, “she says.

“Wild areas and wild places are rare these days,” she continues. “We believe that gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, such as the Leuser ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services.”

“The rivers that flow through the forest in the Leuser ecosystem are not so different from the blood that flows through our veins. It may sound extreme, but tell me – can anyone live without water?”

Lent by Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a great deal of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in enforcing laws that put palm oil companies that burn forests on trial. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind lawsuit that fined a company close to $ 26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitats for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They work to prevent the destruction of mining by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that do not harm forests. They have also trained hundreds of police and government guards to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first female ranking teams in the region.

“We have supported several villages in creating local regulation of river and land protection, effectively enabling communities to regain ownership of their environment.”

She is one of Tory Burch’s Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local fund is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

“The monts will help the organization keep their rangers busy so they can continue to protect the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats,” she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy’s Empowered Women program, visit Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!


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