Batang Toru dam, North Sumatra, Indonesia

A dam has been proposed in a high-value conservation area in Indonesia that is home to the few remaining members of a rare orangutan species.


The Batang Toru hydropower project is a proposed dam in the central part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The project has been controversial since the proposal was made public in 2012 due to its high environmental impact in a high-value conservation area.

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Basic Data
NameBatang Toru dam, North Sumatra, Indonesia
ProvinceNorth Sumatra
SiteBatang Toru
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsCapacity: 510Mw

Area: 645 hectares

The project includes a 13.5km tunnel to carry water from the dam to

power generators downstream
Project Area (in hectares)645
Level of Investment (in USD)1,600,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date01/01/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesSinohydro Corporation Limited (Sinohydro) from China
Relevant government actorsNorth Sumatera government, Indonesian government
International and Financial InstitutionsBank of China from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersWalhi (, Sumatran Orangutan Society (,
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseRepression
Development of AlternativesActivists and scientists proposed to completely halt the construction of the dam to ensure that the habitat of the tapanuli orangutan is preserved.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite the international outcry due to the environmental concerns of the dam, the project is still ongoing
Sources and Materials

[8] Hydroelectric Dam Threatens to Wipe Out World's Rarest Ape, National Geographic, August 9, 2018
[click to view]

[2] How we discovered a new species of orangutan in northern Sumatra, The Conversation, November 6, 2017
[click to view]

[5] Batang Toru dam will affect orangutans and villagers: Walhi, Jakarta Post, September 21, 2018
[click to view]

[3] World’s newest great ape threatened by Chinese dam, The Guardian, April 23, 2018
[click to view]

[4] Scientists urge Indonesian president to nix dam in orangutan habitat, Mongabay, July 13, 2018
[click to view]

[1] New great ape species identified in Indonesia, BBC, November 2, 2017
[click to view]

[6] Protest against hydropower plant in Sumatra ends with injuries, Mongabay, September 14, 2017
[click to view]

Other Documents

Clearing land for the construction of the Batang Toru dam Clearing activities as part of the construction of the Batang Toru dam / Andrew Walmsley - Sumatran Orangutan Society
[click to view]

Batang Toru forest Aerial view of the Batang Toru forest/ Andrew Walkmsley, Sumatran Orangutan Society
[click to view]

A tapanuli orangutan A member of the Tapanuli orangutan species. / Andrew Walkmsley, Sumatran Orangutan Society
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorLaura Villadiego, Carro de Combate, [email protected]
Last update19/11/2018