One day in the life of Hermas Rintik Maring
Wise words from Hermas Rintik Maring who is certainly up for a challenge - he’s asking local communities in the Kapuas Hulu district, a place around 700km from Pontianak, the capital city of West Kalimantan, to stop the unsustainable practices that make them money and explore alternative means of income.
Hermas Rintik Maring’s love for his home and local community is clear. Working with local communities in the Kapuas Hulu district of West Kalimantan, he is helping develop ecotourism projects to support the local economy and protect this important natural area. With over 50% of the district classified as protected area including two national parks, BetungKerihun and DanauSentarum, over 90% of the local communities are depending on the forest and natural resources for their livelihoods.
“That’s why I chose ecotourism,” says Hermas, “Ecotourism can bridge conservation and the economic development of a community. Through ecotourism, the community is still able to make money from the forest around them without cutting down the trees or killing wildlife.”
As one of the indigenous people of Kapuas Hulu, Hermas feels he has a responsibility to develop and protect his local environment and community.
“What I do is try to bring the communities back to a life of harmony with the environment. I know that life is hard, but it does not mean that we have to destroy all things including the forest.
I always tell them that your business today has to be your generation’s business.”
Hermas started working in ecotourism in 2005 when he began advocating this as an option to villages and government in the district. Around the same time, along with some colleagues, he founded KOMPAKH (Kapuas Hulu tourism community), an organisation that aimed to operate ecotourism businesses through local communities.
With no formal training, just a love for his people and land, Hermas has developed his skills in the field, “I tell my community that our business’ capital is the forest, wildlife and our authentic culture. If you want your business to continue you have to keep those things.
Ecotourism will also keep and support their culture. You know the community will be more proud of their forest, wildlife and culture when tourists come and ask them to show what is there.
They also will have a sustainable forest business compared to logging activities that only provide short-term gains. After cutting down the trees, there is little further business they can do in the forest.”
With no such thing as a typical day, Hermas spends much of his time visiting villages and discussing their options with them, training them and acting as facilitator between villages, government and tourism/travel agents.
When asked what is the most rewarding part of his job, Hermas responded, “happiness, because I love this job. I have made a lot of friends across the region, I get to visit a lot of areas and the community loves me even though I’m asking them not to chop down trees and kill wildlife – because I’m bringing in money through visitors.”