Landscape program helps protect forests through alternative livelihoods in Indonesia

Last year, IDH developed a business model with SAMPAN, an environmental NGO based in Kalimantan, Indonesia, to provide smallholders with training in alternative livelihoods to ensure they benefit from the forest without cutting it down.

The program, which uses IDH’s sustainable landscape approach, has helped smallholders in Padang Tikar village, West Kalimantan, shift away from harvesting mangrove wood to activities like beekeeping, crab farming, and producing charcoal from coconuts.

Since participating in the program, 530 smallholders have turned over nearly €41,000 through bee keeping, while another 2,000 turned over around €90,000 through producing coconut-derived charcoal.

 “I used to sell my wet coconut charcoals for IDR 1,000/kg [€5 cent/kg] ). After learning a better drying technique, I sell them for IDR 3,000-5,000/kg [€15-25 cent/kg].”

Ahmad, coconut charcoal smallholder, Padang Tikar

Like Ahmad, Saprodi, a crab farmer who used to harvest mangrove wood, said that he changed his source of income after learning about sustainable crab farming practices. Saprodi and his six fellow crab farmers decided to make the most of the forest in their village by setting up crab ponds between the mangrove trees.

 “We learned a lot from the demonstration plots, where farmers like me can now harvest bigger crabs than is possible to catch in the wild.”

Saprodi, crab farmer, Padang Tikar

In addition, local villagers have been trained in forest protection, contributing to the restoration of 4,198 hectares of forest.

The smallholders are now making collective and individual savings, too. SAMPAN provided financial literacy training and introduced smallholders to saving and investment habits. The collective savings will fund village forest patrol management, including supervising community activities in the surrounding areas of protected forest, preventing fire, and training the community in sustainable production.

In 2017, the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry granted a Village Forest license to Padang Tikar. These licenses aim to increase forest sustainability, improve community welfare and reduce pressure over land availability.

IDH’s project is helping demonstrate that Village Forest licenses can achieve this.

The Padang Tikar license is the biggest in Indonesia, covering more than 75,000 hectares of mangrove and peat forest – a vast ecosystem. It provides livelihood opportunities for some 13,000 villagers, but also requires them to collaborate and learn new skills in the fields of sustainable production and forest protection.

The project aims to scale up the Padang Tikar Village Forest business model to other parts of Indonesia.

For more information about the Village Forest scheme, listen to our podcast.

Find out more about IDH’s landscape program in West Kalimantan.