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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. That is why he decided to study marine biology. But the more he learned, the more he realized that it was not enough to work in the ocean. I needed to protect him.

“I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change,” he says. “I felt powerless and didn’t know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master’s degree in environmental management. “

This choice led her to work on protecting the environment, and it was fate that brought her back to the Leuser ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia, one of the last places in the world where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and rhinos still live. from Sumatra. the wild today. It is also home to more than 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

“When I first flew over the Leuser ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush and diverse vegetation stretching across hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape, one of a kind.”

She fell in love. “I had my first encounter with an orangutan in the Leuser ecosystem,” he recalls. “While the baby orangutan was swinging from the branches, apparently playing and having fun, the mother was watching us. I was moved by the experience.”

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

“Over the years,” he continues, “encounters with wildlife, with people and with the ecosystem itself have worsened. My curiosity and interest in nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity.”

So he started working for a government agency tasked with protecting him. After the agency was dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

“The objectives [of HAkA] they are protecting, conserving and restoring the Leuser ecosystem while catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region, “he says.

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

“The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser ecosystem are not very 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

Until now, HAkA has worked hard to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring oil palm companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented court decision, the first of its kind, that fined a company nearly $ 26 million.

Additionally, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They are working 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 rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first teams of female rangers in the region.

“We have supported several villages to create local regulation on the protection of rivers and land, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership of their environment.”

She is one of Tory Burch’s empowered women this year. The donation you receive as a nominee is awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation 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 funds will help the organization keep its rangers employed so they can continue to protect the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats,” he says.

For more information on the Tory Burch and Upworthy Empowered Women program, visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

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