Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan has always loved the ocean. That’s why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it was not enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect him.
“I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change,” she says. “I felt helpless and didn’t know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my masters in environmental management. “
This choice led her to work in 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. nature today. It is also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.
“When I flew over the Leuser ecosystem for the first time, I saw an unspoiled landscape, a contiguous block of lush and diverse vegetation stretching through hills and valleys. The 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 swayed from the branches, appearing to be playing and having fun, the mother watched us. I was moved by the experience.”
Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
“Over the years,” she continues, “encounters with wildlife, humans and the ecosystem itself have worsened. My curiosity and my interest in nature turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity.
So, she started working for a government agency responsible for protecting him. After the agency was dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.
“The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser ecosystem while catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region, ”she said.
“Wild areas and wild places are rare these days,” she continues. “We believe that gold and diamonds are scarce and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like Leuser’s ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with vital services.”
“The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser ecosystem are not much different from the blood that flows through our veins. It may sound extreme, but tell me: can anyone live without water? “
Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
So far HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the area. The organization has played a key role in strengthening laws that prosecute palm oil companies that burn forests. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented court ruling, the first of its kind, that fined a company nearly $ 26 million.
Additionally, HAkA has helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that allegedly damaged critical habitat for Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They strive to prevent the destruction of mines by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that do not damage forests. They have also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first teams of women rangers in the area.
“We have helped several villages create local regulations to protect rivers and land, allowing communities to take back control of their environment. “
She is one of Tory Burch’s Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee goes to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation works to protect some of the last habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.
“The funds will help the organization keep its ranger employed so that he can continue to protect islands, endangered birds and marine turtle habitats,” she said.
To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy’s Empowered Women program, visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Name her today!