Protecting the Forest Through Village Forest Scheme

Around 50% of Indonesia’s land is covered by forest, which is often taken for granted. Forest has a critical role in protecting our land, yet we still face major deforestation that leads us to many natural disasters, such as landslides, floods, and many more. We have heard enough that this natural destruction activity is done in the name of economic growth. However, we slightly see ‘ the economic impact’ on these local communities. On the contrary, we saw many losses have befallen them. natural disasters occured, such as landslides, floods, and others that cost many lives, infrastructural damage, and the list goes on.

The social forestry scheme, which was launched by the Indonesian government, aims to reduce the poverty of forest communities by providing access to manage forest areas so that they can get economic benefits. In addition, this scheme is also expected to be able to reduce the rate of deforestation.

HAkA has helped the establishment of Forest Village (Hutan Desa) in Damaran Baru (Bener Meriah district) and Bunin (Aceh Timur district) villages. Damaran Baru was impacted by the flash flood, resulting in the loss of dozens homes, and many infrastructural damage due to forest degradation, that located near their village. Unfortunately, this destruction is mostly done by other parties outside the village community itself. Bunin has three out of 4 key species in the Leuser Ecosystem (Sumatran tiger, elephant and orangutan), but we still found that natural damage occurred around this area. We see that the community has a critical role in protecting their home, therefore we support these two villages in  obtaining the Village Forest permit by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry through the Village Forest Management Group (LPHD). 

With this permit, they now have the rights and responsibility to safeguard their livelihoods by conserving, protecting and restoring the village forest within their village areas. To enable them to independently protect their forest, HAkA helped establish and train a Community Patrol Team (CPT), not just for Damaran Baru and Bunin Village Forest, but also Agusen and Pining. LPHD Damaran Baru even made a breakthrough by forming the first Women Ranger Team in Aceh, which was referred as “Mpu Uteun” (Forest Protector), that has been patrolling their forest since February 2020. These rangers will actively protect their environment, battle rampant deforestation and wildlife poaching around their area. With the formation of the community ranger team, it is hoped that they can become local champions to protect forests, riverand other sources of life directly and sustainably.

Mpu Uteun member patrol in Damaran Baru village

HAkA conducted SMART Patrol training for Agusen, Bunin and Pining CPT members, and SMART Patrol Database for Damaran Baru LPHD members. This data will be crucial as evidenceof their effective patrol and help with policy-making in their village regarding village forest management.  In Bunin, we saw a decline in deforestation rate for about 50% in 2020 compared to the average forest loss for the past three years. 

In addition, at the restoration site, Damaran Baru now focuses on developing the agroforestry sector, silvofishery, honey farm, and ecovillage model. Through agroforestry, they developed some non-timber commodities, such as avocado, sugar palm, coffee, etc. By these initiatives, many locals are sensing the benefit of their village forest permit, economically, socially and environmentally. Not only that, in the future HAkA also has a big ambition in supporting Village Forest Bunin as one of the wildlife education centres, since Gampong Bunin has three out of 4 key species in the Leuser Ecosystem.

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