One of the biggest challenges in the current era of rapid industrialization, especially in developing countries such as Indonesia, is addressing the many serious environmental issues that arise. However, in the national debate over economic development and environmental issues, the latter tend to be inadequately addresses or ignored altogether.
YEL was established to focus on environmental issues, responding to existing challenges, especially with regards to the preservation of conservation areas and the conservation of endangered species, especially the Sumatran Orangutan and its habitat, as well as on raising issues related to the destruction and/or degradation of strategic buffer zones, especially in the northern parts of Sumatra.
YEL’s involvement in nature conservation first began with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP), in which YEL and its principle partner, the Swiss-based PanEcoFoundation, established an orangutan quarantine centre at Batu Mbelin, near the town of Sibolangit in North Sumatra. From these beginnings, YEL has gradually expanded its programmes into education and awareness, research surveys and monitoring of the remaining wild Sumatran orang-utan Populations, and the conservation of the Batang Toru Forests in North Sumatra Province, and the remaining peat swamp forests on the west coast of Aceh.