April 8, 2020
The deforestation rate in Indonesia is among the highest in the world, which is not only a threat to the climate but also the ecosystem services that the forest generates and endangered species such as the Indonesian tiger. The main threat to the ancient, rich tropical rainforests in Indonesia is palm oil, whose global demand is driving deforestation in favor of palm oil plantations. The Durian Rambun project at Sumatra is collaborating with local communities to reverse this trend, including using modern technologies such as GPS and GIS to patrol and monitor, thus preserving the priceless forest.
The aim of the project is to protect the forest in the heart of Sumatra. This is done through monthly patrols, while measuring and reporting forest growth and biodiversity. The main threat to the forest is invasive groups that cut down primary rainforest to plant different crops, mainly coffee. Smart patrolling is carried out strategically to cover the entire area, and systems such as GPS and the GIS map system are used to log important follow-up events. Cameras are also used for monitoring.
Contracts between the local government, the Ministry of Forestry and the provincial government called Hutan Desa (Community Village Forest) guarantee the local community’s ownership of the forest and their right to take care of it. The project organization Fauna and Flora International has been crucial in securing the contract that is reviewed every 35 years. Customary Laws from the government give the local community the right to implement laws to punish groups that intrude on the area. The project has so far, some 80 members.
The project, which was founded in 2014, together with the participating communities, preserves 3616 hectares of primary forest, which leads to a carbon benefit of about 6618 tonnes per year in avoided carbon emissions. The avoided carbon emissions are based on an average deforestation rate of 1.99% per year in the absence of the project. Since the start of the project in 2014, the deforestation rate has decreased to 0.1% per year.
The conservation of natural forest is not only necessary as a climate-regulating measure, but also provides a range of ecosystem services for communities in the surrounding areas. For example, the forest contributes to the supply of food and other goods, purifies drinking water, regulates weather and protects against landslides. The project also aims to strengthen the local communities’ ability to support the forest in a sustainable way through agroforestry and tree planting. An important part of the project is education and forest management. Most of the hectares covered during the project are conservation of primary forest, a smaller part is directed to other carbon binding measures such as replanting and sustainable forestry.