The Indonesian palm oil company Bumitama is working with the government, local communities and other companies to conserve an ‘orangutan corridor’ that passes through their palm concession in West Kalimantan province. The activities are part of the Bumitama Biodiversity and Community Project (BBCP), convened by IDH and implemented with Aidenvironment.
With plans to plant up to 50,000 trees in the coming months, the corridor will help ensure orangutans and other forms of wildlife can migrate between two crucial forest areas in Ketapang district: the Gunung Palung forest nature reserve and the Sungai Putri peat dome.
These areas are threatened by activities that include plantations and illegal logging. The total area to be conserved is approximately 12,000 ha, of which around 7,000 ha is on Bumitama’s concessions.
KEE: A legal framework to protect forest passing through concessions
In 2015, Bumitama introduced its No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policy, but lacked the legal framework to put it into practice. This is because the Indonesian Plantation Law states that any areas under a Hak Guna Usaha (right of cultivation) concession must be fully converted for their intended purpose.
Palm oil companies like Bumitama are therefore legally obliged to develop their concession areas, even if they contain forest.
In response, IDH convened the West Kalimantan province and Ketapang district governments, the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Bumitama and ANJ Group (who also hold a palm oil concession in the area). Together, in February 2018, the public-private coalition established a decree giving the biodiversity corridor Ecosystem Essential Area (Kawasan Ekosistem Esensial, or KEE) status, as part of West Kalimantan’s conservation program.
This legal status means that Bumitama and others can preserve the biodiversity corridor passing through their concessions.
From corridor to community livelihoods
In line with West Kalimantan’s green growth plan, the project also promotes alternative community livelihoods in eight local villages around the biodiversity corridor, based on village-level land use plans. This includes training local farmers in sustainable fishing and horticulture, to demonstrate how villagers can increase their income without cutting down the forest.
To complement this work, the project also trains villagers in participatory conservation planning and is helping set up a forest patrol system based on Spatial Monitoring and Reporting (SMART).
The BBCP project is based on IDH’s Production, Protection, Inclusion (PPI) approach, designed to link forest conservation to sustainable production and improving livelihoods.
Image: Tree planting as part of the BBCP project, West Kalimantan, Indonesia (IDH, 2018)