Back in the field and ready for action – local conservation leader Eddy Santoso leads the Rare Pride campaign in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, which aims to reach out to the communities in and around the reserve to protect the orangutan.
In February 2009, Rare Pride Campaign Manager Eddy Santoso returned to the field from his university training to plan and determine the goals of his Pride Campaign. This training gives Eddy the essential skills to deploy various community outreach strategies tailored to his community’s current culture regarding conservation. Some of the tools Eddy uses to disseminate the importance of protecting the reserve include a charismatic campaign mascot, radio songs about conservation, conservation messaged posters, community meetings, etc. These tools are designed to modify core values, lower behavioral barriers, and address the most urgent environmental issues in efforts to save the orangutan and the orangutan habitat.
Eddy’s employer, Yayorin, along with the Orangutan Foundation, are Rare’s local partners for this new Pride campaign. Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and its surrounding corridors are the primary focus of Eddy’s campaign. Comprised of 77,000 hectares of peat swamp and lowland tropical forest, Lamandau is home to some of Borneo’s most extraordinary wildlife. Proboscis monkeys, Rhinoceros hornbills, crocodiles, sun bears, orchids, hundreds of bird species, and the iconic orangutan. Threats to Lamandau’s biodiversity include land clearing for subsistence agriculture, illegal logging, and unsustainable or illegal hunting, fishing, and fuelwood collection. Larger threats on the horizon include proposals for industrial-scale oil palm plantations, which would mean clearing a significant majority of the buffer zone since global demand for palm oil has skyrocketed as worldwide hunger for biofuels has grown.
This year Rare and its partner organizations will build on these local agencies’ existing skills and experience in education and community outreach to launch a Rare Pride Campaign in Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. Lamandau’s forest still stands in large enough pieces to provide habitat for the orangutans. The Pride campaign is aiming to protect the remaining forest by engaging surrounding communities to protect and rehabilitate areas adjacent to the reserve, and empowering local communities to become beneficiaries of their own good stewardship of the forests on which they rely. Rare and local partners believe that enough forest can be preserved and maintained to support the needs of both people of the forest and orangutans.
Thanks to campaign supporters, Eddy is making great progress so far. He has identified threats and created a concept model that illustrates how threats affect wildlife, and has developed relevant conservation survey questions for the Lamandau’s surrounding communities. Together with Yayorin staff, Eddy is conducting surveys in a dozen surrounding communities and comparing results to those of six control communities around the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve. This process informs Eddy and his partners where current attitudes and behaviors stand with regard to Lamandau’s resources, providing a baseline from which the Pride campaign can determine metrics for future success.
Eddy and local partners have been reaching out to craftsmen and village leaders, activists and farmers, oil palm workers, rubber tree tappers and others harvesting from the forest to learn about their behaviors and to engage them in conserving orangutan habitat. Eddy’s campaign will also inspire another receptive audience-- children. Eddy has been visiting schools and using tools like stories and coloring books to inform children in a fun and interesting way about preserving Lamandau’s natural resources. This kind of outreach is just one of several tools Eddy will continue to use over the duration of his Pride campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in July 2010.
When Rare Pride Program Managers traveled to China’s Gaoligong Nature Reserve, the biggest threat to the region and to Hoolock gibbons was obvious: too many communities collecting too much fuelwood.
To mentor Pride campaign managers and support active campaigns throughout the world, Rare staff regularly travel to each Pride campaign site to monitor a campaign’s progress against its scheduled benchmarks. In February 2009, Rare Pride Program Managers Yu and Zhiyong visited Gaoligong Nature Reserve, where Rare, the Gaoligong Mountain Nature Reserve Management Bureau and The Nature Conservancy in China recently launched a Pride campaign led by Campaign Manager Duan Honglian. They were amazed to see the dramatic impact fuel wood collection had on this site, which provides habitat for many threatened species including the Hoolock gibbon. The gibbons are restricted to small patches of remaining habitat and are estimated at less than 150 individuals. With each family in the community collecting enough fuelwood to fortify massive piles (illustrated in the attached photo), it is easy to understand the abundance of barren areas on the hillsides of the reserve.
Yu and Zhiyong reported: “On top of a small hill, we could see the corridor reserve very well. The forest in this area was degraded due to rampant fuel wood collection. The three communities in this region -- Simenqian, Lizhai, and Shatian -- do not have any other available forest. They have to collect fuelwood from the reserve, despite the area being established as a nature reserve. Due to weak enforcement of regulations, the nature reserve staff cannot penalize these communities if they collect wood from the reserve.”
Local experts are so familiar with the biodiversity in the reserve that they can identify each of the gibbons based on their calls. They witness how destroying the forest impacts the wildlife, specifically the Hoolock gibbons. They report that gibbons have changed their seasonal habits, forfeiting movement to certain areas of the reserve since there are no more big trees to climb and hide in. This is a direct result of the forests being cleared for fuelwood.
Thanks to this Pride campaign’s supporters, Honglian finished conducting a threat assessment of her site, which identifies the site’s top conservation threats and issues as a result of extensive interviewing and group discussions with various community members, leaders and groups. She then ranked the threats that jeopardize Gaoligong’s resources and met with local leaders to gain their support of her Pride campaign. With input from partner organizations and Rare staff, Honglian is exploring strategies to reduce fuelwood collection as the campaign moves into its implementation phase. Utilizing alternative forms of energy including biogas is one option, but Honglian will consult with local experts for a suitable long-term solution to protect the communities’ environmental resources, and to protect the environment itself.
Honglian needs help from conservationists like you to continue inspiring conservation of natural resources and protect the Hoolock gibbon in Gaoligong Nature Reserve.
Alejandro’s campaign is progressing right on schedule. As the Rare Pride Campaign Manager for La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve, he has completed the first university phase of Rare’s training curriculum at the University of Guadalajara, one of the largest and most respected institutions of higher learning in Mexico. Participants in this program come from all over Latin America.
This phase included nine weeks of classroom training and hands-on activities that prepared Alejandro to build a comprehensive project plan, including use of concept models, threat ranking, and stake-holder engagement strategies.
Alejandro is now back in the field in the communities of La Sepultura for his Pride campaign planning phase. He has facilitated the stakeholder meeting and threat ranking, produced a draft barrier removal analysis, and is now starting his community survey where he will survey nearly 1,000 people (and a control group) on their knowledge, attitudes, and behavior about forest fires and their agricultural practices- many of which have been passed down from generation to generation. This information will help Alejandro form specific conservation objectives for the campaign.
He will then return to Guadalajara on June 2nd, where he will participate in the Rare alumni event – a first time celebration of the Rare Pride campaign manager alumni network that emphasizes supporting and mentoring fellow conservationists for long term conservation sustainability worldwide. Afterward, Alejandro will start five weeks of training in the second university phase before returning to the field where he will implement his campaign.
Here’s a brief recap of Alejandro’s campaign and goals for preserving natural resources in La Sepultura:
To reduce pine-oak forest being destroyed by uncontrolled forest fires La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve, local farmers and producers will be trained and mentored to implement fire management practices (burning calendars, firebreaks, community plans, natural fences etc) along with sustainable productive alternatives (organic agriculture, agrosilvopastoral systems, sustainable grass production). Producers will learn about of the effects of forest fires and the environmental and production benefits that can be obtained through these alternative practices. CONANP along with other agriculture related entities will provide technical assistance and financing. The Pride Campaign will be deemed successful if 50% of annual hectares (ha) damaged by forest fires is reduced by 2012 (2500 ha instead of 5000 ha).