The progress this campaign has made over the last several months has been truly remarkable. With an emphasis on public outreach and education, villagers in the Lamandau area are successfully reducing the amount of forest cut down for fuel and expansion of farmland.
A poster drive, mascot, and song have been the primary focus of the campaign’s public outreach push. The posters promote settled farming, reduced burning of forest, and the planting to mixed gardens. Led by Eddy Santoso, almost every village surrounding the Lamandau Wildlife Preserve was given these informational posters. In addition to the posters, a fact sheet was created that used pictures to link climate change to the burning of forest. Not content to stop there, Eddy and his team made a concerted effort to draw children into the fight against deforestation. Uncle Win, the mascot who represents the campaign, has made several visits to schools to educate children. A song was also written specifically for the campaign to be sung at schools. These fun and playful strategies have paid big dividends. Children in the area have, of their own accord, begun to collect seeds and plant trees to replace ones that have been burned. The involvement of children as well as adults bodes well for the future success of the campaign.
Perhaps the most successful part of the Pride campaign thus far has been the implementation of settled farming techniques in the Lamandau area. The primary reason for clearing forest is to plant palm trees, which are harvested for their oil and, ultimately, become the main source of income for villagers. As villagers earn income from the palm oil, they stop planting their own food and start clearing more forest for palm trees. This additional income is then used to buy food and other supplies that they could otherwise provide for themselves. Eddy and his partners at Yayorin have created a settled farming program that increases the self reliance of villagers and reduces the need for palm trees and their oil. In Tempayung Village, a mixed garden program was created that encourages villagers to start planting their own gardens in order to supplement their diets. These gardens include things such as fruits, vegetables, and rubber. With the additional food and resources gardens provide, villagers no longer have to go into the forest every day to find food. In the nearby area of Babual Boboti, 77% of villagers started their own mixed gardens. The community was so excited by the idea of starting gardens that women, children, and even men returning home from their day jobs, all participated in the planting and upkeep. In fact, the settled farming program has been so successful that the head of the Department of Agriculture traveled to the area to personally praise their efforts.
The future looks good for the preservation of orangutan habitat around Lamandau. Village chiefs around the wildlife preserve all reaffirmed their commitment not to expand farming fields, open new farming lands, or cut trees for fuels. This is an extremely important step, as villagers are loath to defy their chief. Furthermore, supervisory patrols were created to ensure that everyone is following the directives of the chiefs. These supervisory patrols were also pleased to discover the return of migratory birds to the areas that had been previously burned. The return of ibis, egrets, herons and grouse all signify the improving health of the forest and the success of the campaign.
The campaign achieved several milestones over the past several months that demonstrate the level of success achieved.
In late April, a press conference was held in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez on the “Campaign for the Integrated Management of Fire.” The press conference was well attended by news outlets such as Televisa, Cable 7, Channel 5, and the Journal of Chiapas. The event lasted about 45 minutes and dealt mostly with the goals of the campaign, the dangers of burning forest, and the methodology employed by Rare. Afterward, news of the press conference spread to other newspapers, local radio, TV stations, and the official website of CONANP. Overall, the press conference was just the sort of thing needed to raise the message and visibility of the campaign.
A new facility at the Center for Conservation of Culture was opened in early June to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the reserve. The facility uses pictures to give a historical narrative outlining the many successes of the reserve. To celebrate the occasion, government and local leaders were greeted by Tito the Tapir and received a tour of the facilities. Attendees were also treated to a presentation on the Pride campaign currently at work. The combination of the new facility and presentation served to expand awareness of the plight of the forest.
While many goals have been reached, we still need your help to ensure the continued protection of the forest reserve.
Here you will find the link to a video made by Jason Houston that gives a great idea of what is being conserved. There are excellent shots of the villages where the campaign is working, newly planted gardens, and, of course, orangutans.