Forests for People work with our partner Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) in North Sumatra to restore degraded forest habitat in the Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP). This National Park is part of the threatened Leuser Ecosystem, a globally unique ecosystem that boasts Sumatra’s most significant tropical rainforest remnant and is one of the richest representations of the biodiversity of Southeast Asia. Millions of people rely on the environmental services, particularly the water supplies, that the Leuser ecosystem provides. Despite being protected under Indonesian law, vast tracts of the GLNP have been lost due to encroachment, illegal logging, infrastructure development, and plantation/agriculture development.
Forests for People supports extensive forest restoration to undo the damage caused by oil palm plantations and bring back the ecological function of the forest. This project has created a significant shift in the mindset of the local community in understanding the need to sustain and protect the forests from illegal encroachment. In addition, local people participate in useful training and capacity-building exercises in support of the restoration work, including tree nursery development, improved planting methodology, planting maintenance, and the financial benefit of receiving a stipend for program-related assistance. As well as helping restore degraded tracts of forest, the local communities have observed the regional restoration of ecosystem services, namely a restoration of the local water table and resilience to drought, previously lost to forest clearing and mono-culture agricultural development.
One of the reforestation projects we support is conducted by a women’s group. The empowerment of women to take a lead in the transition towards sustainable livelihoods that are compatible with the conservation of the Leuser Ecosystem will further catalyze a shift as women pass on key values to their children and other family members, promoting values aligned with forest conservation in the next generation.