Corridor Restoration: Together with community to answer the challenge of climate change
The world has now mostly agreed that damage to our forests is accelerating climate change and global warming therefore, we can only now avoid causing more damage and fix what’s left. In the Heart of Borneo area, forest restoration is a priority. One example is a corridor restoration project which has focused on the areas between Betung Kerihun National Park and Danau Sentarum National Park, in Kapuas Hulu District, West Kalimantan.
WWF-Indonesia’s new book, Communities and Conservation: 50 Inspiring Stories from WWF to Indonesia, is a celebration of WWF-Indonesia’s 50-year long journey as a conservation organization. Emerging strongly from that long journey and all the stories in the book is the lesson that communities are on the front line of conservation and need to be key partners in conservation. Eighteen of the fifty stories are from the Heart of Borneo, but all the stories show the effectiveness of conservation when indigenous peoples, their knowledge and practices, are involved in the decision making process. This is also well illustrated by the following story.
Over 50,000 trees were planted across 300,000 hectares
The restoration project has been running since 2009 involving 42 households in three small villages in the Sedik River, Tekalong and Sepan areas. Villagers have planted 57,930 trees on 300,985 hectares with species such as Patai (Parkia speciosa), Langsat (Lansium domesticum), Meranti or Tengkawang (Shorea stenoptera), Durian (Durio zibethinus), Agarwood or Gaharu (Aquilaria malaccensis), Belian – Borneo ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri), Meranti (Shorea parvifolia), Sibau - wild rambutan (Nephelium maingayii), Longan (Dimocarpus longan), Ucung or tampoi paya (Baccaurea bracteata), Rambai (Baccaurea motleyana), Tekam (Shorea sp), Tembesu (Fragrea fragrans) and rubber (Hevea brasilliensis).
The community does a mix of planting on their own farming land (kebun) and on customary land (tanah adat) in the protected forest of Bukit Lanjak. The restoration area is important orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) habitat and they, like the local community, have been benefitting from the forest for their livelihoods.
Combining the replantation program with the community has strengthened forest management in the area, paying respect to local wisdom. Following spatial analysis and socio-economic studies, the replantation program began involving the local community in 2010. They were involved in formulating goals, identifying potential, and to realise the goal with their knowledge and local resources. The trees and vegetation chosen are endemic species and popular in the community with seeds and seedlings able to be provided locally.
WWF supported the community through teaching sustainable farming techniques such as building a nursery centre, land measurement, planting, treatment and monitoring. Additionally, through the field school, farmers were encouraged to share knowledge and collaboratively solve problems.
WWF promotes voluntary community participation and, through the field school program, self-education using the Andragogi approach, an approach on learning of adults, which enhances people's insight, attitudes and skills. “The change of attitude from a subsistence community to one that is creatively and cooperatively working towards sustainable livelihood development is basically because the community is open-minded and welcomes support from outside. That’s what we call social modality,” explains Lorens, Senior Corridor Officer WWF-Indonesia West Kalimantan Program.
Community and institutional empowerment are important factors for the restoration program in the longer term. The role of the customary council and strong organisation is the key. WWF assists communities on thematic discussions (based on need), providing training on organisation skills, and building access to wider networks, such as the government of Kapuas Hulu District.
In terms of economic aspects, WWF trained women on entrepreneurship and how to organise an agro-business group. Today, the women’s groups, particularly in Sungai Sedik and Tekalong, have developed a vegetable business. The profit from the seedling business is forwarded to develop other potential and productive businesses.
A sustainable alternative income can help reduce pressure on the forest and allow the community to protect their forest while still being able to tap into its economic benefits.
Gideon, from Sui Abau Village, said “we have experienced the impacts of deforestation and the main problem is water. If the forest is gone, we will lose the water. After two years of this replantation program, the water is back. We expect more activities like this in the future.”
Community-based restoration projects provide a response to climate change that can help make the planet greener and more liveable.