WEA Women in Action

Ellena Yusti

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Ellena is a member of the Indigenous Conservationist Track sponsored by our Program Partner, Conservation International.

Studying bats for the conservation of forest ecosystems

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Region

Sumatera, Aceh, Indonesia

Affiliations & Roles

Natural Aceh, Chiropterologist, Penangung jawab program lingkungan

Ellena Yusti is a Chiropterologist (bat researcher) in Aceh, Indonesia. She was first inspired by the high biodiversity of Indonesia and interested in bats because of their essential role in the forest ecosystem. Bats act as seed dispersers (reforestation agents), flower pollinators, and pest controllers on agricultural and plantation land, as well as controlling insect population vectors of diseases, such as mosquitoes. Ellena actively studies the biodiversity of bats and the environment and also campaigns in local forums about the importance of maintaining ecosystem balance.

 Since 2013, Ellena has been collaboratively researching the changing landscape of forests to agricultural land, which affects bat populations and their impact on forest and human ecosystems. She has carried out studies of bats in Bawakaraeng Mountains, Makassar (2013), oil palm farms in Jambi through the Collaborative Research Center and Access Benefit Sharing (2017-2019), and the Seulawah Aceh forest area funded by the Nagao Environmental Foundation (2018). Ellena was also a volunteer for Operation Wallacea on Buton Island, Southeast Sulawesi, where she worked with international students to carry out research and education on the ecological importance of bats. In 2018, Ellena participated in the International Bat Conference in Bacolod, Philippines, through the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit Fellowship.

 In 2017, Ellena implemented the Education for Nature program by WWF-US together with Natural Aceh (a local Aceh NGO) by involving the community of oyster farmer women in Alue Naga Village, Banda Aceh, and students at several universities. The program utilizes climate change prevention actions, such as educating community members about the importance of mangroves as disaster resilience and the role of women in climate change. The mangrove planting program continues to run independently every year by the women of Alue Naga Village and other communities. Ellena believes that we can achieve ecosystem health through the continued pursuit of community education.

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Tingginya keanekaragaman hayati Indonesia membuat Ellena tertarik mengkaji interaksi antara makhluk hidup dan lingkungannya, salah satunya mamalia yang mampu terbang, yaitu kelelawar. Peran pentingnya dalam ekosistem hutan, membuat Ellena tertarik untuk mengkaji hewan ini. Kelelawar dalam ekosistem hutan berperan sebagai penyebar biji (agen reforestasi), penyerbuk bunga dan pengendali hama di lahan pertanian dan perkebunan, serta sebagai pengendali populasi serangga vektor penyakit, seperti nyamuk. Hal ini membuat Ellena aktif mengkaji biodiversitas kelelawar dan lingkungan serta turut mengkampanyekan dalam forum lokal akan pentingnya menjaga keseimbangan ekosistem bagi kehidupan.

 Sejak 2013, Ellena aktif dalam penelitian kolaborasi mengenai perubahan landscape hutan menjadi lahan pertanian yang mempengaruhi populasi kelelawar serta dampaknya terhadap ekosistem hutan dan manusia. Beberapa penelitian biodiversitas kelelawar yang pernah dilakukan di antaranya di Pegunungan Bawakaraeng, Makassar (2013), lahan pertanian sawit di Jambi melalui Collaborative Research Centre dan Access Benefit Sharing (2017-2019), Kawasan hutan Seulawah Aceh didanai oleh Nagao Environmental Foundation (2018). Ellena juga sempat menjadi volunteer Operation Wallacea di Pulau Buton, Sulawesi Tenggara, bersama mahasiswa mancanegara untuk melaksanakan penelitian dan edukasi tentang pentingnya jasa lingkungan kelelawar terhadap ekosistem hutan dan manusia. Ia juga berpartisipasi dalam konferensi kelelawar Internasional di Bacolod, Filipina (2018) melalui The Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit (SEABCRU) Fellowship.

Sebagai program edukasi mengenai pentingnya kesadaran semua pihak dalam menjaga alam dari kerusakan, ia melaksanakan program Education for Nature oleh WWF-US (2017) bersama Natural Aceh (NGO local Aceh) dengan melibatkan komunitas perempuan petani tiram di Desa Alue Naga, Banda Aceh dan mahasiswa di beberapa universitas. Program ini berbasis pada kegiatan pencegahan perubahan iklim, seperti mengedukasi anggota komunitas mengenai pentingnya mangrove sebagai ketahanan terhadap bencana serta peran wanita terhadap perubahan iklim. Program penanaman mangrove masih tetap berjalan setiap tahun secara mandiri oleh komunitas perempuan Desa Alue Naga dan komunitas lainnya, sehingga berdampak positif pada kualitas sumber daya perairan. Kesehatan ekosistem dapat dijangkau dengan terus mengupayakan kegiatan edukasi kepada masyarakat sekitar dan generasi penerus.

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