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)
This programme is working with the local communities in Ketambe, Aceh, Sumatra to develop new livelihood opportunities which support the conservation of the region's precious forest ecosystems, home to the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan.
In the first phase of the project, OIC undertook focus group discussions to enable the local people to express their views about the programme, the environment, and their role in its conservation. Informal lectures were also held to improve community knowledge about the value of forests. Before the start of the project, 14% of villagers surveyed stated that they saw no direct benefits from the Gunung Leuser National Park's continued conservation and 8% stated that the government provided them with no incentives to protect the park, and conversely, no disincentives to encroaching into it. It became apparent that many local people didn't know the location of the boundaries of the protected area, so OIC established a participatory mapping task force to clearly mark the border.
A field survey to establish the true scale of encroachment into the national park revealed that more than 56,000 hectares of protected forests in the Aceh Tenggara district have been damaged through Illegal land clearance. In addition, ten illegal roads, each approximately 4 km in length, have been found inside the national park, enabling increased access to the interior of the park and inevitably leading to increased levels of illegal logging, hunting, and agriculture.
During a programme workshop the Deputy Head of Aceh Tenggara Parliament implored the local people to take action to protect their rainforests from further illegal activities. Aceh Tenggara is known to be highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as flash floods, which have destroyed approximately 1,500 hectares of agricultural lands, and are linked to illegal encroachment and deforestation. Local government and community members chose Ketambe to become a pilot forest restoration site for Aceh province. Together we reviewed current drivers of deforestation, and explored new initiatives that could reverse the damage already done. The heads of Aunan Sepakat and Lawe Aunan villages have donated of their own private land for tree nurseries to support the forest restoration work, and construction has already begun.
Meetings were also held with tourism guides, the guide association, the heads of Ketambe village, and the district Ministry of Culture and Tourism, to discuss the current status of ecotourism initiatives, and future plans for the growth and development of this industry. There has been a drastic decline in visitors to the area since civil conflict broke out in 1997. Although this was formally settled in 2004, there are still only around 20-30 international tourists to the area per month, far less than before the conflict. Activities currently offered to tourists are limited to rafting in the Alas river and trekking in the national park, often in search of orangutans. With the rich cultural heritage of the Gayo and Alas people, there is potential for increasing the range of tourism opportunities, and we will work with the communities to develop their potential to welcome more visitors.
Human-wildlife conflict surveys have been carried out in eight villages directly adjacent to the Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP). Demographic and socio-economic data were collected from 173 household heads (157 males and 16 females). 99 farmers stated that they suffered crop damage from a variety of wildlife, including the long and pig-tailed macaques, Thomas leaf monkeys, wild boars, and orangutans. The root cause of such conflict, deforestation, was explained to the communities by our human orangutan conflict response unit, who also shared practical solutions to mitigate and prevent future instances.
In July thirty people attended a guide training programme as part of OIC's work to develop ecotourism potential in the region. OIC has been working with the local people and guide association to establish the Ketambe Ecotourism Committee (EKI), which is tasked with developing and monitoring ecotourism activities. Regular focus group discussions have been held to develop such future plans such as restructuring EKI membership, advanced guide training, and promotional events in Ketambe. Professional uniforms have also been distributed and a website detailing the sites and activities available is near completion, under the management of the EKI.
In order to support sustainable livelihoods throughout the community, OIC has also hosted training workshops on accelerated natural forest regeneration and agroforestry development. A community farmers' group, ‘Lestari Alam Hijau' (~Sustainable Green Nature), has been established to manage these activities, including the development of two tree nurseries, which have to date cultivated 32,500 seedlings of 14 endemic tree species.
Together with the Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP) authority and local village heads, OIC ejected those responsible for the illegal encroachment of 31 hectares of degraded GLNP forests. With the support of the Nando Peretti Foundation, OIC staff and 15 community members are planting 22,370 indigenous tree seedlings on 20 hectares of degraded national park land.
In December 2011 OIC also held a conservation camp with 100 students from 4 local schools taking part in order to encourage them to appreciate their natural environment and at the same time help promote Ketambe as an ecotourism destination. 1,000 poster style wall calenders, featuring GLNP conservation were also distributed during the camp, as well as to community members living throughout the Ketambe area
OIC has recently been awarded additional support from the FFI Flagship Species Fund and USAID IFACS programme to continue and expand its work in Ketambe. The Community Agroforestry Reforestation and Education (CARE) project has been launched, which will directly complement OIC work under KREDI. Its continued presence in Ketambe will enable the further development of agroforestry as an alternative livelihood scheme for the local people, as well as expanding the scope of OIC restoration work, with an additional 100 hectares of degraded forest to be replanted.