COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TO PROTECT THE RAINFOREST
What do we mean when we say that community development projects are extremely important for our work to conserve the rainforest and orangutans in Sumatra?
The simplest explanation is probably this: With workshops and joint activities, inhabitants of villages around the important Leuser, Ulu Masen and Batang Toru Ecosystems in northern Sumatra are inspired in many ways to engage in projects that help protect the rainforest and its biodiversity. In this way, sustainable new income opportunities are jointly established, that enhance the socio-economic situation of the villagers. This is one of the most sustainable and effective ways to ensure the long term protection of fragile rainforest ecosystems and the survival of the species living within them.
Specifically, our SOCP team has carried out the following community development activities in areas around the Batang Toru ecosystem in recent months:
- Sustainable honey production: forest farmer groups are supported in making honey commercially viable. In concrete terms, they can learn from the SOCP teams how to keep bees, which plants provide valuable food for them, and how to harvest and process the honey they produce.
- Sustainable crop cultivation: The SOCP team supports farmer groups in the cultivation of coffee and durian fruits, as well as jengkol and petai trees (both legumes) within an agroforestry landscape in areas adjacent to the rainforest. The nearby forests create the perfect environment for such crops to grow, making it valuable to the local economy, helping to protect it from exploitation.
- Rubber extraction: The SOCP team advises smallholders who cultivate rubber plants on the extraction of the rubber and the subsequent process of latex production, helping to maximise the incomes they can make from this very traditional crop.
Ecological corridor building: Our team works to connect valuable habitats to ensure the long term viability of species’ wild populations. For example, farmer groups are supported in systematically planting incense trees to reforest certain areas, which creates and environment that orangutans will cross to get from A to B.