Conservation and the art of story-telling: Stories from Heart of Borneo and beyond



Posted on 04 February 2013  | 
By Cristina Eghenter and Hermayani Putera

Conservation is about people as much as it is about natural resources. Conservation work is  about how humans decide to use, protect, and manage natural resources to sustain their present and future livelihoods. Success in conservation depends on getting the right connection between people and nature. It thrives on good partnerships and collaborations. Stories, rather than mere indicators, can capture this dimension and communicate conservation efforts in powerful ways. Good stories can help conservation.

This is the spirit that motivated the staff of WWF-Indonesia to write a book on conservation and communities to illustrate a 50-year long journey of WWF Indonesia as a conservation organization: “Communities and Conservation: 50 Inspiring Stories from WWF to Indonesia.” The process took over a year to complete because the writers who were asked to tell their stories in their own words were also the people in charge of delivering conservation in the field, so some very dedicated and busy storytellers!

The stories cover a wide range of experiences about how to address the challenges of conservation management, protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services, social equity, effective participation, economic benefits, good governance and local leadership working on the ground with communities and other partners. Moreover, conservation challenges are exacerbated when working in areas that are 70% vulnerable to natural disasters. In these conditions, more than ever, working with local stakeholders and right-holders is essential.

Communities are on the front line of conservation and need to be key partners in conservation. Conservation is for sustainable development and Indigenous and local peoples need to be made part of the process as key beneficiaries. This is the basic message from the fifty stories.

The stories from the Heart of Borneo, Ujung Kulon, Papua, Aceh and Sumatra, Lombok and Timor, marine protected areas of Solor Alor and others, want to share and inspire, convey the sense of constant innovation and dynamism within which best approaches and practices emerge and are shaped. More importantly, the stories underline how trust and good relations can be the foundation of successful partnerships to promote conservation and real change on the ground.

18 of the 50 stories are from the Heart of Borneo. Not only a lot of conservation work from research to protected areas management experiments, from community-based ecotourism to building capacity at village level, from restoration of key habitats  for orangutan to empowering women was conducted there, but some of the most innovative work for high social value conservation has come from the Heart of Borneo over the years. It was one of the stories from the Heart of Borneo, FORMADAT: Conservation and Sustainable Development across the border (between Indonesia and Malaysia), that was chosen by a national TV
talk show, Kick Andy, to help profile our work with communities and conservation, and also launch our ‘book gift’ to Indonesia.

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