The Trans-Sumatran Highway is a $1.1 billion dollar project spanning 2,700 kilometers – from Banda Aceh in the north to Bandar Lampung in the south – and is designed to connect the island’s agribusiness and mining sectors in an effort to boost commodity exports. Forty percent of the land needed for the highway has yet to be acquired, and it is slated to run right through – rather than around – biodiverse forests, the Leuser Ecosystem, Kerinci Seblat National Park, and the Batang Toru Ecosystem. Recently a critically endangered Sumatran tiger was spotted on a construction site in Riau province, sparking wildlife experts to call for the protection of the species. Some have described these road projects as ‘opening up Pandora’s box.’ To discuss the impact of – and alternatives to – such infrastructure projects, Mongabay Explores podcast host Mike DiGirolamo reached Hariyo “Beebach” Wibisono in Jakarta: he’s a research fellow with San Diego Zoo Global, and is director of SINTAS Indonesia, plus Bill Laurance, a distinguished professor at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. Laurance is also head of ALERT, the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers, and a member of Mongabay’s Advisory Council. Listen to their conversation here: Related reading from this episode: Tiger on the highway: Sighting in Sumatra causes a stir, but is no surprise China’s Belt and Road poised to transform the Earth, but at what cost? Batang Toru: Worker feared dead as landslide hits quake-prone dam in orangutan habitat Mongabay Explores is a…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer