Sustainable Forest Products to Support Wildlife Conservation and to Stop Deforestation

26 September 2018 - The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has announced £2.1 million in aid to protect endangered wildlife and create thousands of sustainable jobs. The funding supports three Partnerships for Forests projects, including two in the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape in Jambi, Central Sumatra, Indonesia. SYSTEMIQ, which has been a partner of Partnerships for Forests since April 2017, will continue to provide commercial and strategic expertise to the projects in Bukit Tigapuluh and to manage the investment pipeline in Indonesia.

 

“The integrated landscape management in Bukit Tigapuluh is pioneering an innovative approach to nature conservation”, says Morten Rossé, partner at SYSTEMIQ. “The local communities living near the national park struggle to find a reliable income. These projects show that economic development does not need to come at the expense of wildlife habitat. Sustainable business practices go hand-in-hand with socio-economic inclusion of the local communities and wildlife protection.”

 

The 400,000-hectare Bukit Tigapuluh (meaning “thirty hills” in Bahasa) is one of the last remaining fragments of lowland tropical forest in Sumatra, an island in Western Indonesia. It’s one of the world’s most precious ecosystems and wildlife habitats for endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger (only 30-40 remain in the landscape), the orangutan and the Asian elephant. These animals face threats arising from poaching, human-wildlife conflict and hunting. Around half of the forest has been lost over the last 20 years due to conversion of forest areas to agricultural plantations and mining. Major underlying problems in the landscape include the lack of patrols and monitoring to keep illegal deforestation and poaching at bay, and a lack of alternative, sustainable sources of income for local communities.

DFID’s support will help Partnerships for Forests and SYSTEMIQ to coordinate 28 public and private organisations work together to protect the landscape, including local government, national conservation authorities, private companies, NGOs and indigenous community leaders to secure critical remaining wildlife areas, preventing the loss of remaining habitat and curbing the risk of poaching.

SYSTEMIQ will provide commercial and strategic expertise and manage the grant funding for the development of regenerative forest business models in Bukit Tigapuluh such as sustainable rubber, wild forest honey and dragon blood.

The sustainable rubber plantation will serve as a buffer zone to protect the Bukit Tigapuluh national park from further encroachment. As a result, out of a forest concession area of 88,000 hectares, roughly 45,000 hectares will be set aside for community livelihoods and conservation, creating approximately 16,000 sustainable jobs.

These natural forest products will provide an economic, sustainable and socially-inclusive alternative to poaching and deforestation.

To protect the landscape, a public-private partnership was initiated by Partnerships for Forests. The aim is to establish a wildlife corridor on heavily degraded land. A rubber plantation will serve as a buffer zone to protect the Bukit Tigapuluh national park from further encroachment. The project is being developed by PT Royal Lestari Utama, a joint venture backed by tire manufacturer Michelin, working closely with WWF Indonesia and SYSTEMIQ. As a result, out of a concession area of 88,000 hectares, roughly 45,000 hectares will be set aside for community livelihoods and conservation. The initiative has also secured green commercial finance of US$95 million.

DFID’s financial support will help Partnerships for Forests and SYSTEMIQ to develop green, environmentally-friendly forest products in the BTP landscape such as sustainable rubber, wild forest honey and dragon blood. These natural forest products will provide the 18 villages in the area with approximately 16,000 sustainable jobs, and therefore with an economic, sustainable and socially-inclusive alternative to poaching and deforestation.