Preserving the forest through partnership and empowering local communities.
The mountain ranges of Bukit Tigapuluh tower above the ocean of forest like a bizarrely formed island in the lowland of eastern Sumatra. The National Park has a size of 145,000 hectares which is equivalent in size to 192,000 soccer fields. It is a unique ecosystem with a multitude of animals, plants and forest-dwelling ethnic groups. Bukit Tigapuluh is the largest lowland rainforest region in Sumatra and a site of exceptional biodiversity.
However, the forested areas around the park have been rapidly logged and illegal logging, forest clearing and settlement threaten the park and its inhabitants.
In December 2013 an agreement was signed between the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the KfW Development Bank – joining forces to save and protect the remaining lowland forest located south of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park (BTNP).
BTNP’s lowland forests are one of the last remaining and most important habitats for elephants, tigers and orangutans, but through both legal concessions and illegal opportunism, they are being progressively logged, burnt and converted into oil palm plantations.
Land use in Indonesia is governed in part by ministry issued regulatory ‘Concession’ licenses, e.g. forestry concessions, farming concessions, mining concessions. This project will take advantage of an innovative conservation tool that exists in Indonesia called an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC).
Long term concession contracts of 95 years will ensure the regeneration of forest areas alongside sustainable use of its natural resources. The process to grant an ERC can take some time but the urgency of the situation dicatates that we start where we can while the application is being considered. In cooperation with local communities such as the Talang Mamak tribe, an environmentally sound, long-term plan is being developed and implementation of pilot projects has begun.
More Information: The Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem Conservation Implementation Plan
In cooperation with project partners and stakeholders:
- effectively manage the project area through an ERC management plan or the development of an alternative appropriate land-use management strategy
- implement a security system against illegal logging and encroachment
- implement pilot forest restoration projects
- develop market links and a sustainable finance plan for the ERC project area
- with the villagers who live in and around the ERC, co-create village land use and development plans for implementation by those local communities, with project support
- measure and monitor sustainable management of natural resources, biodiversity conservation and socio-economic improvement of participating communities.
Talang Mamak - Forest Nomads and Conservation Partners
The Talang Mamak are a people with a rich history of living in harmony with their forest home of Bukit Tigapuluh. They are proud of their self-sufficient lifestyle and they call themselves the children of the forest; the forest dictates their everyday lives. Dragon’s blood, carefully harvested, is one of the products of the forest that the Talang Mamak harvest to sell. The product, in Indonesian called jernang, is a red dust produced from the rattan palms of the genus Daemonorops.
As well as dragon's blood, the Talang Mamak harvest honey, collect jungle fruit crops and hunt bearded pigs, all in tune with the rhythm of the forest. However, these products are becoming scarce as as logging continues at a fast pace around the park.
FZS, with WWF Indonesia and KfW Development Bank is implementing economic development projects in partneship with the Talang Mamak people and other local tribes to ensure that their children, grandchildren and future generations can continue to live and thrive in their ancestral homeland. Projects include establishing sustainable rubber plantations and tree nurseries to create a sustainable native timber harvest for the future wealth of the community.
Increasing skills to improve crops and protect biodiversity
The integrity of Bukit Tigapuluh’s ecosystem is at stake as farmers in the buffer zone of the park change their traditional extensive polyculture farming techniques in favour of small scale oil palm plantations. Polyculture literally means many types of crops on the same land with high diversity of flora and fauna which fits very well to protect an integer ecosystem.
However, even those farmers who are willing to continue with traditional polyculture and ‘jungle rubber’ farming methods are often using inefficient tools and techniques. This results in decreased yield per hectare and therefore makes it unattractive to continue with ‘jungle rubber’ culture.
We have commenced a six month polyculture field school training programme with local farmers based on rubber production, to increase their knowledge and capability so they can continue with an integrated agriculture model that works sustainably, and therefore helps to protect high biodiversity in Bukit Tigapuluh.