Long Term Conservation of the Harapan Forest

Project location: Indonesia, Sumatra
Project start date: June 2006 - Project end date: June 2008
Project number: 2005-19
Beneficiary: Birdlife International


The lowland forests in Sumatra are amongst the most biologically diverse yet most threatened forests in the world. Their status is critical since they are the most accessible forests under pressure for timber extraction and conversion into palm oil and pulp and paper plantations. Deforestation rates of lowland rainforest in Sumatra are among the highest in the world. Of the estimated 16 million hectares at the beginning of last century, in 1997 remained less than 2,5 million and only 500.000 hectares today. BirdLife Indonesia conducted a suitability and feasibility study of all unprotected remaining lowland forest key areas. One of them was assessed as the most viable site for a major new conservation initiative. This is a block of over 200.000 hectares across the provinces of Jambi and South Sumatra, in which BirdLife has identified a core area of 100.000 hectares to be converted into a conservation concession.

The area has been almost all selectively logged over the past few decades. However, the site still has large areas of high and close canopy secondary forest and shows excellent regeneration. Other areas are in a more degraded status and will need specific rehabilitation interventions.  Without the intervention of BirdLife the forest is doomed to certain and imminent destruction over the next 5 years through legal and illegal logging and conversion to timber plantations.

In June 2004, as a result of the BirdLife initiative, the Indonesian Government issued the Minister of Forestry decree No. SK 159/Menhut-II/2004 on ‘Ecosystem Restoration in Production Forests'.  This regulation introduces a new type of license for the management of designated production forests - the license for ecosystem restoration.   In September 2005, The Minister of Forestry declared an area of 101.355 Ha in Jambi and South Sumatra Provinces (Sungai Meranti/Sungai Kapas Forest blocks) as an ecosystem restoration area in production forest (SK.83/Menhut-II/2005).
Based on the recently approved legislation and the aforementioned Ministerial decrees, Birdlife coalition has acquired the right to manage the site for a period of 55 years. The Indonesian authorities envisage that the site will be protected by a logging moratorium for the first 20 years of this period after which the management plan for the forest will be re-assessed and we could then carry out low-level, highly selective logging in order to raise revenues for local communities and authorities in full respect of the primary conservation purposes of the concession. While such logging remains a possibility, we intend to use the moratorium period to generate enough revenues through non consumptive use of the forest and alternative income generating activities in collaboration with the local communities. We will demonstrate that the standing forest is of great value to people both locally and nationally. Harapan in Indonesian means "hope". Our "Hope Forest" intends to demonstrate a new approach to tropical forest conservation by the forest in the interest of people and biodiversity alike. Only demonstrating that the standing forest can generate ecosystem services and financial revenues to local communities we can hope to save the remaining lowland forests from clearance and conversion.

The objective of the Harapan Rainforest Initiative is to establish a conservation forest concession protecting the rainforest in perpetuity and to manage and restore the rainforest for the benefit of people and biodiversity. The NGO coalition of several BirdLife Partner organisations in Indonesia, Europe and Asia, will involve local communities in sustainable forest management and promote the initiative as a model for sustainable tropical forest management outside protected areas in Indonesia and elsewhere. The Initiative is to be considered innovative in two important respects. It has resulted in the establishment of the first large rainforest block in Indonesia to be controlled and managed by an NGO alliance; and it involves the granting by the Indonesian government of an entirely new type of logging concession managed for rehabilitation and conservation. This could lead to many more forest areas to be managed for conservation and rehabilitation, rather than being degraded by illegal logging and eventually cleared for conversion to palm oil and pulp plantations.

The Nando Peretti Foundaton is one of the sponsors of this project to achieve the following specific objectives of the Harapan Rainforest initiative:

  • To maintain close canopy forest and to restore and rehabilitate degraded forest;
  • To prevent illegal logging, encroachment and poaching ;
  • To prevent and control forest fires;
  • To research, monitor and, if appropriate, manage key species and habitats;
  • To engage with and seek support from indigenous people within the reserve boundary and local people in the surrounding areas;
  • To develop high-quality, low-impact ecotourism;
  • To develop high-profile training, education and public awareness facilities;
  • To secure policy changes necessary to secure the long term future of the Project


Management and administrative arrangements: the Harapan Rainforest conservation initiative is developed and managed by BirdLife International (Registered UK Charity no 1042125), The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife Partner in UK, Registered UK Charity no 207076) and BirdLife Indonesia (Registered Indonesian charity), hereafter referred as "the three parties".  The initiative is also supported by a number of other BirdLife Partner organisations, international ngos, Foundations, Institutions, private and corporate donors.
In order to manage the rainforest with the purpose of conservation and restoration, the three parties have established an Indonesian Foundation (Yayasan Konservasi Ekosistem Hutan Indonesia -KEHI) who holds the majority of the shares of the Indonesian company (PT Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia) which holds the forest concession licence from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and is responsible for managing the operations in the area.
The Indonesian foundation KEHI is governed by a Board of Patrons nominated by the three parties. The Indonesian foundation KEHI also the company REKI which holds the forestry concession license.
The estimated core management costs are estimated around 500-600.000 US$ per annum. The Board of Patron of the Foundation approves an annual management plan and budget.
It is planned to establish one or more funds which will produce financial interests able to cover the annual core management costs. Additional fundraising will be undertaken to fund additional and specific conservation and development projects.
Objectives of the fund. The BirdLife International Harapan Rainforest Fund administered by BirdLife International is bound to support the management costs for the conservation and restoration of the Harapan rainforest (Sungai Meranti - Sungai Kapas Forest blocks in Jambi and South Sumatra Provinces). The BirdLife International Harapan Rainforest Fund will be held and administered by BirdLife International as a restricted endowment whose interests will be annually transferred to the Foundation KEHI on the basis of the approved management plan and budget. 
Investment policy. The BirdLife International Harapan Rainforest Fund will be invested alongside the other endowment funds of BirdLife International, and will follow the same investment policies and governance mechanisms as BirdLife International's other investments. 

It is current policy of BirdLife International to hold its long term endowments invested in managed equity tracker funds, invested across the equity markets in the USA and Europe.  The long term investments are held primarily for capital growth, with a nominal "interest" of 4.5% of a 5 year rolling average of the capital value of the funds made available for annual distribution.  Under these arrangements the "interest" transferred to the Foundation KEHI would be limited to this 4.5% of capital value measure.

Investments performance and policy are  formally overseen and reviewed by BirdLife International Council, and the Finance Sub-committee of the Council. These both meet at least twice per year.

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