Ketambe Reforestation and Ecotourism Development Initiative (KREDI)

Project location: INDONESIA, Sumatra
Project start date: January 2011 - Project end date: December 2011
Project number: 2010-67
Beneficiary: Ketambe Reforestation and Ecotourism Development Initiative (KREDI)

The Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) has been working in Sumatra, Indonesia, since 2001, raising awareness amongst a wide range of stakeholders, from local communities to local government, about ecosystem conservation, using the orangutan as a flagship species. OIC promotes public awareness of the plight and the value of this critically endangered species and the ecosystem services provided by its unique habitat. The participation and empowerment of local communities is central to OIC environmental education and sustainable development projects and training programmes.

The organization works at the grassroots level in northern Sumatra to raise awareness of the critical importance of the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem conservation. The OIC is an organisation run by committed Indonesian conservationists, with field staff from North Sumatra and Aceh, drawn from conservation science, forestry and environmental education backgrounds. OIC works with local communities to instill pride and a sense of ownership in the fate of Indonesia's natural habitats and endemic species. Its programmes are successful at reaching the people through a community-based effort, with our messages and methods driven by local needs that fit each situation and culture more closely than many international efforts.

There is an urgent need for conservation action in order to retain viable wild populations of orangutans (Pongo spp.). Once widespread throughout the forests of Southeast Asia, they are now confined to two islands in Indonesia and Malaysia, where two genetically distinct species exist: the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) and the Bornean orangutan (P. pygmaeus). The Sumatran orangutan is predicted to become the first Great Ape species to go extinct in the wild, with forests being lost to human development through unsustainable legal and illegal natural resource extraction, infrastructure development, and large scale conversion of forested lands to agricultural plantations (McConkey, 2005). There are now less than 900,000 hectares of orangutan habitat left standing on the island, restricted to the northernmost provinces of North Sumatra and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (Aceh) (Singleton, 2004). The great majority is found within the forests of the Leuser Ecosystem (LE), which encompasses the Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP), part of the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Thus the Sumatran orangutan, having shown a population decrease of 86% over the past 100 years, is now classified as critically endangered, with less than 6,700 individuals remaining in the wild (Wich et al., 2008; Robertson & van Schaik, 2001). With high annual rates of habitat loss (15% and higher) occurring throughout Sumatra, population and habitat models have shown that certain extinction in all Sumatran orangutan populations could occur within 50 years (Marshall et al., 2009).
In addition to Sumatran orangutans and a multitude of other species of fauna and flora, around four million people living in Sumatra depend on the Leuser forests for valuable ecological services, such as the provision of water for consumption and irrigation, soil fertility, flood control, and climate regulation. The protection of this high conservation value forest should therefore be integrated into the public agenda not only for its intrinsic biodiversity value, but to maintain and where necessary restore the critical ecological services provided through the LE. Research conducted in the exact region of focus of this proposed project has shown that these forests have a substantially higher economic value if either strictly conserved or selectively used, rather than allowing deforestation for oil palm, logging, or other developments (van Beukering et al., 2003).

The district of focus for this programme, Aceh Tenggara (Southeast Aceh), houses the Ketambe research station, which has accommodated orangutan and forest researchers for the past 30 years. It is apparent however that there is a sense of disempowerment felt by the local people with regards to the fate of the forests. General family income is considered low, and illegal encroachment and harvesting of natural resources from the national park has for some become commonplace.
Based on data gathered from the provincial forestry office, at least 84% of the total land area in the Aceh Tenggara district is demarcated as Gunung Leuser National Park forest, and is therefore off limits for development. In combination with the poorly marked and inadequately socialised boundary markers, it is not surprising that encroachment has been a problem in Aceh Tenggara.

It is vital to assist communities living adjacent to these areas of high biodiversity to protect and improve their own livelihoods and environment. The community selected for this programme has welcomed the idea of developing alternative livelihood schemes. The KREDI programme is designed to empower people to take action and increase their capacity to support measures to conserve the orangutan and its habitat. Crucially, they will learn how they can be a part of the solution by replanting forests, protecting orangutans, increasing environmental awareness, planting crops, engaging in forest restoration, and ecotourism development, all which will provide an income as an alternative to unsustainable harvesting of forest resources.
OIC aims to support the rehabilitation and conservation of the Gunung Leuser National Park through this comprehensive community based initiative. The programme will be based in the village of Ketambe, which with its history of hosting an orangutan research station as well as a yet undeveloped, light tourism forest trekking system in place, has the greatest potential for implementing successful community conservation in the area. The programme will also be extended to four villages adjacent to Ketambe, with which the OIC has worked since August 2009 and designated as MCVs: Aunan Sepakat, Darul Makmur, Lawe Aunan, and Serimuda.
Forest restoration will play a dual role in this programme, benefiting both people and wildlife. Biodiversity shall benefit through habitat expansion and security. The conservation aspect of this programme will focus on the Sumatran orangutan population within the West Leuser habitat unit, which supports an estimated 2,508 orangutans, approximately 37% of the total surviving Sumatran orangutan population (Wich et al., 2008). However, as orangutans are both a flagship and umbrella species, many other species stand to benefit through any increased protection afforded to orangutans and their habitat.
Through empowering local people and instilling a sense of care and responsibility, the KREDI will equip Indonesian communities with the tools and motivation needed for effective species and habitat conservation. Studies have shown that changes in attitude can have a positive impact on conservation (Biodiversity Conservation Network, 1999), and that negative results emerge when local people are excluded from conservation matters affecting their existence (Hill, 2002; Ancrenaz et al., 2007). Local communities will be involved in the entire process, from planning, implementation, and eventually complete independent management, all according to guidelines established for effective commons governance (Dietz, et al. 2003).

The following activities will take place:

1. Surveys to measure encroachment into the GLNP
Field surveys will be undertaken with GLNP/Forestry staff to measure current levels of encroachment, including clear demarcation of the border of the park and placement of clear markers and signboards socialising this information.
2. Key stakeholder workshop
A workshop will be hosted by the OIC to discuss the results of the ground survey, with participants from the GLNP authority, BKSDA, USAID-OCSP, and local communities. The GLNP restoration area for this programme will be identified, based on those lands deemed most critical for restoration and conservation action.
3. Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) on Ecotourism Development
FGDs will be conducted to formulate conservation agreements and development plans for the area, according to local needs. FGDs allow every interest group in the village to contribute to the development process, involving local and regional government officials, indigenous community organisations, womens' groups, religious groups, as well as youth organisations. This process will result in the drafting of the ecotourism development plan, including the 'tree adoption' scheme, as well as the Conservation Camp Package to be offered to local and international schools.
4. KEC training
In order to ensure that problems associated with mismanaged tourism, such as negative impacts on the health and behaviour of the wildlife that ecotourists pay to observe, are avoided, it is necessary to develop within the people of Ketambe a high standard of environmental knowledge, conservation management and commitment. OIC will host a series of training programmes and community workshops to instil the key tenets of ecotourism, to ensure that the operation is sustainable from the start, protecting the region from developing the above mentioned problems in the future.
5. Environmental Education and the concept of Sustainability
Lectures on locally-relevant issues will be held to educate the community about the national park they live adjacent to. This will include information on valuable natural ecological services provided through the continued conservation of forests, and the role that the community themselves can play in their protection and how they stand to benefit from doing so. As part of this activity, posters and leaflets will be produced and distributed about the programme. A handbook previously produced by the OIC to promote practical environmental education in schools, which has already been approved for use throughout the North Sumatra province, and recognised by the local conservation authority, BAPADELDA, will be made available to local teachers and community leaders so that they can integrate conservation and sustainability lessons into their curriculum and daily lives.
6. Workshops on forest restoration, agroforestry development, and tree adoption programme management
OIC shall make use of the tree nurseries already constructed in the area and to ensure best use and field methodology, OIC shall host a series of practical workshops on: Forest restoration, Agroforestry development.
7. Forest restoration and maintenance
As part of this programme, 30 hectares of degraded GLNP land will be planted and restored with indigenous tree seedlings, following the methodology mastered by the OIC in other restoration programmes. This initial 30 hectare replanting site will serve as an incentive for local people to become involved in forest restoration, with future plantings dependent on the tree adoption programme as well as other sources.
8. Host Conservation Camps
OIC will invite local schools to experience the natural beauty of the area and the initiatives created as a result of the KREDI. This will offer an educational, environmental package currently unavailable anywhere in Aceh. Visitors will experience forest trekking with skilled guides, outbound activities, learn about agroforestry systems, and participate in forest restoration, all within a 'natural classroom' environment. All of this shall be advertised on a website created by this programme, detailing the natural beauty that Ketambe has to offer, activities implemented by the KREDI, and what visitors can experience in both the camp setting as well as in casual trips.
Local communities will be involved in the entire process, from planning, implementation, and eventually complete independent management, all according to guidelines established for effective commons governance.
The preliminary results and programme implementation details/outline shall be included in a presentation at the International Primatological Society XXIII Congress being held in Kyoto, Japan in September 2010. The co-investigator is an invited speaker presenting 'The effect of mass tourism on a population of wild and semi-wild Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) in Sumatra', at the symposium entitled 'How nonhuman great apes respond to anthropogenic contexts'.
The training programme and guidelines for proper visitor conduct in the GLNP have been approved and endorsed by the national park authority. The guidelines are also being used to form the upcoming IUCN Best Practices for Great Ape Tourism document, which shall be debuted at the International Primatological Society XXIII Congress.

Support from the Nando Peretti Foundation will allow OIC to extend and further develop an innovative programme that would serve communities through livelihood improvements while also contributing to biodiversity conservation. Experts have compiled a list of 18 recommended priorities in global efforts for orangutan conservation (reviewed in Marshall et al., 2009); the initiative put forth in this proposal meets 10 of them:
1. Developing education and outreach programmes;
2. Encouraging the participation and collaboration of local NGOs;
3. Monitoring of orangutan populations;
4. Promoting forest restoration;
5. Providing incentives for people to move out of important orangutan habitat;
6. Working more closely with local governments and traditional community leaders;
7. Developing alternative income-generating activities for local people;
8. Developing innovative tourism opportunities;
9. Initiating international and national media campaigns;
10. Building local capacity.

Restoration will have a direct impact on the condition of the forests and over time will improve the rainforest habitat that several endemic, endangered species such as the Sumatran orangutan, Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus), Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), Thomas leaf monkey (Presbytis thomasi), long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), pig-tailed macaque (M. nemestrina), slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), gibbons and siamangs (Family Hylobatidae) and numerous unique reptile, insect, bird and plant species such as the parasitic Rafflesia arnoldii, depend upon. Thus this programme will help ensure that biodiversity levels are maintained and, over time, increase.
Protecting the rainforest means protecting local as well as global human interests by ensuring a biodiversity reserve of great benefit to mankind, in terms of biology, zoology, botany, and medicine, providing a potentially sustainable resource for future generations. Furthermore, the environmental education scheme is designed to encourage communities to initiate their own conservation programmes, increasing their practical engagement with locally-relevant environmental issues. People in Aceh will be more motivated to take positive actions, and value their environment.
In addition to the benefits for biodiversity, the project will provide sustainable alternative livelihoods for local people living adjacent to this area. Thus they will not only gain from having the forests regrown and benefit from the restored ecological services, but will also benefit as a community through training and agroforestry schemes. The need for cash crop seedlings is always rising, as currently many villages use such crops either for personal sustenance or as supplementary sources of income for harvesting and selling fruits and/or timber. With ever-reducing forest cover and increased government enforcement of the few remaining protected forests, the economic attractiveness of local people planting their own crops is on the rise (Murniata et al., 2001).
The community will benefit from the restoration of numerous ecosystem services, including increased levels of soil, water, and mineral retention, increased plant pollination and pest control from forest fauna and flora, flood and fire prevention, carbon storage, etc. It is OIC ultimate goal to form a wide network of conservation villages undertaking sustainable development schemes, as a large part of the future of Indonesia's forests depends on those living adjacent to these critical ecosystems. Through our other restoration and MCV programmes throughout Sumatra, the framework is already in place to expand the network of conservation oriented communities. This will increase the coverage area of nature protection and community empowerment, strengthening conservation action throughout Sumatra.


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