government planned transmigration programme – a resettle- ment programme for families from crowded Java to the less populated outer islands – was linked to the expansion of oil palm plantations in Tripa and Singkil in the 1990s. In con- trast, internal migration from the island of Nias to the West Batang Toru forests over the last two decades has been largely spontaneous. Tese settlers have opened up primary forests for agriculture and hunt many species of local wildlife, including orangutans. Significant environmental degradation on Nias has been documented since the 1990s, and very little natural forest cover remains on the island, suggesting serious over- crowding. Currently at least eight Nias communities have been established inside the protected forest in the Batang Toru area, leading to the loss of more than 2,200 ha of orangutan forest habitat in specifically the south-western corner of the area (Map 16).
Figure 3: Population growth in North Sumatra and Aceh from 1920-2008.
A logging camp with logs from a newly opened area for an oil palm plantation (Asril Abbdullah)