BALI, Indonesia—Seventy-five completed grant projects on biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement in Indonesia were showcased in the recently concluded Small Grants Programme (SGP) Indonesia Closing Forum.
The SGP is a regional program of the Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), supported by Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW) that was designed to strike the balance between conservation and livelihood improvement in select Asean Heritage Parks (AHPs). AHPs, are protected areas that were recognised for their outstanding conservation value and effective biological resource management.
Since 2018, a total of €2.1 million were awarded to support small and micro-scale projects in Gunung Leuser National Park and Way Kambas National Park, two of the seven AHPs in Indonesia.
“For 2020 to 2022 alone, 34 projects focusing on biodiversity conservation and 41 on livelihood improvement were implemented by 33 grantee-organisations and 42 micrograntee-organisations across Indonesia,” said Clarissa Arida, ACB senior director for programs.
Arida added that local communities, including the indigenous peoples living in the buffer zones of the AHPs and the AHP management, have been actively engaged in the program in varying capacities but mostly as grant beneficiaries.
“From ecotourism development activities, honey production, coffee plantation, eco prints in shawls and clothes, among others, are all heartwarming and the joy and delight in the faces of communities we visited are immeasurable,” she explained.
Dr. Indra Exploitasia, director of the Directorate of Biodiversity Conservation Species and Genetics of Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, shared that the implementation of the SGP Indonesia has resulted in achievements on wildlife and biodiversity survey data.
Included in the survey were key species, such as the Sumatran elephant, rhino and tiger; ecosystem restoration activities combined with livelihood programmes to tackle human-wildlife conflict and tenurial conflict; and integrated ecotourism development as part of livelihood improvement.
“The SGP has contributed to the conflict resolutions in the two national parks Gunung Leuser National Park and Way Kambas National Park: human-elephant conflict, human-tiger conflict, tenurial-related conflict, and social conflict in the communities,” Exploitasia said.
It has supported the livelihood improvement in 49 villages around these two parks, through community partnership programmes by promoting the alternative income generation for local community through non-timber forest products, organic farming, and ecotourism development, she added.
The forum highlighted how the SGP demonstrated the value of adopting a whole-of-society approach to biodiversity conservation.
“Striking the balance between economic development or improving the livelihood of communities and conservation is possible. Local communities, women, and other key stakeholders of the national parks should be treated as partners, not just beneficiaries,” said Corazon de Jesus Jr., coordinator of the SGP and director of the ACB Sustainable Use and Access and Benefit Sharing Department.
“All stakeholders have to be involved in the decision-making process for their heritage sites for us to come up with a conservation plan that will leave no one behind,” de Jesus added.
Image credits: ACB