A 5 week crossing of Sumatra on foot to assess and document the condition of the island.

When: 16th June – 24th July 2016

Where: Aceh and Northern Sumatra, Indonesia

What: A 5 week Megatransect of Northern Sumatra, walking across the island to assess the condition of various ecosystems, including previously unresearched mountain forest.

Who: UK undergraduates (Iris Berger and Oli Broadhead) and Indonesian guides (Said Murthaza and Roy)

Status: Completed Download Expedition Report

Sumatra Megatransect 2016 - Oli Broadhead


This study was composed of two parts: 2 weeks were spent in the pristine montane rainforests around Mount Lembu, Aceh, Northern Sumatra (N 04° 13’ 18.3” E 097° 26’ 05.9”, 3043m) and three weeks were spent traversing various deforested or agricultural landscapes.

A record of the species encountered allowed a comparison of avian biodiversity between the two areas. No research had been conducted in the forests around Mount Lembu, so the data collected provides the first insight into the condition of the region.

Sumatra Megatransect 2016 - Oli Broadhead


The biogeographical region Sundaland, to which Sumatra belongs, is the world’s third greatest biodiversity hotspot. However, Indonesia has been estimated to have the highest rate of primary forest clearing globally, with Sumatra showing the greatest rate of loss of any Indonesian island. Drastic conservation programmes are urgently needed.

There are 11 national parks in Sumatra, yet even these are victim to illegal logging and poaching. Outside of these “protected sites” large forest fragments remain unprotected and unresearched. Collecting data on an unresearched forest, with the hope of drawing some attention to the area, was the motivation behind the expedition.

Sumatra Megatransect 2016 - Oli Broadhead


Aceh and North Sumatra, Indonesia – N 04° 13’ 18.3” E 097° 26’ 05.9”


The aim was to compare avian biodiversity in deforested areas with an area of pristine forest, and give a first insight into the species composition of an area unexplored by scientists.

Sumatra Megatransect 2016 - Oli Broadhead


The peak of Gunung Leuser, the heart of the world famous Leuser national park, could be seen from our research area. Since the forests surrounding it were protected, little interest has been paid to safeguarding or researching the surrounding ecosystems. The mountains we explored were equally spectacular and the forests fantastically diverse. Whilst Leuser attracts global ecotourism and scientific interest Mount Lembu, Mount Kurik, and the montane forest in the valleys below remain ignored, their survival dependent on the whims of the forestry, mining, and palm oil industries. We hoped to draw some attention to the area before it is destroyed by fire or logging.

Sumatra Megatransect 2016 - Oli Broadhead


Iris Berger – undergraduate Biological Sciences student at Edinburgh University, in charge of data collection
Oli Broadhead – undergraduate Biological Sciences student at Bristol University/expedition photographer and filmmaker
Said Murthaza – founder of Aceh Tracker, Team leader for the 1st stage of the expedition
Roy – Founding member of Aceh Tracker, co-leader of the 1st stage of the expedition

Sumatra Megatransect 2016 - Oli Broadhead


Aceh Tracker


£950 for the four person team to spend two weeks in remote forest. This covered food, equipment, and permits. £70 each for Oli and Iris to continue the megatransect for three weeks to the coast.

We walked and stayed in villages so no money was spent on accommodation or transport, the money covered our food cost.

Sumatra Megatransect 2016 - Oli Broadhead


The University of Edinburgh James Rennie Bequest
Reed Chillcheater



Iris Beger
Oli Broadhead


Oli Broadhead Photography
Aceh Tracker


Oli Broadhead (@Oli_Broadhead)


Oli Broadhead (@oli_broadhead)


Download Expedition Report

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