Every year, severe forest fire covers almost the whole regions of Borneo with the worst cost of death due to respiratory infections by the smoke haze. Together with people in the nearby villages, we at Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF), combat the fire to reduce that risk. However, lack of safety fire-fighting equipments has made us gamble our lives in the middle of the giant flame.
In addition to that, BNF also places a great importance on forest survey and monitoring activities. These are not merely aimed at protecting the forest from annual fires but also keeping it away from illegal logging, fishing, and wildlife hunting that would threaten the forest prime habitat. However, manual forest monitoring to unaccessible remote areas has made this activity impossible to carry out.
To tackle the above problems, with the major support from The Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF), BNF has been able to equip two fire-fighting communities (hereinafter referred to as MPA) Kereng Bangkirai (consisting of 29 members) and Sabaru (26 members) with sufficient fire-fighting equipment. Equally important, ICCTF also helps the purchase of drone that will be used by patrol team during forest survey & monitoring.
The official handover took place on Friday 18 May 2018 at the District Office of Sabangau. The equipment and the drone purchased with BNF Matching Fund were directly presented to communities and the team.
The event was attended by fire-fighting communities and patrol team, BNF representatives, chief of CIMTROP from University of Palangka Raya, and the other 16 stakeholders from local governments such as Chief of Sabangau District, Head of Sabangau National Park, representative from PPI KLHK Kalimantan, members of Manggala Agni chapter Borneo, and many more.
Bernat Ripoll Capilla, Field Director of BNF, expressed his great enthusiasm to take part in the equipment handover.
“BNF acts as the facilitator of this programme, we’re happy to work together with communities and we expect that they can use the equipments positively to protect their land and environment,” said Berni, a short name for the Field Director.
Furthermore, BNF used the funding for at least three purposes; 1) peatland restoration; 2) supporting the establishment of communities; and 3) providing training and workshops for both MPAs and patrol teams to use special equipment like a drone.
There were at least a total of 25 types of item distributed to communities and the patrollers including fire-fighting equipment, GPS, communication tools (handy talky and radio rig), water pump, water flow measurement tool, and the aerial survey or drone.
Daryatmo KS, a representative from Sabangau District Office, was so happy to open the hand-over event. He perceived the handover as the big step from Borneo Nature Foundation to support local communities in Borneo.
“We’re glad for the conservation team from BNF that has dedicated the efforts for the local communities in Borneo. Our future expectation is that there must be various future collaborations between BNF, local governments, and local communities to protect the environment” said Daryatmo.
The event was ended with the signing of the handover agreement by the Field Director of BNF with the representatives from the two MPAs for fire-fighting equipment and chief of CIMTROP that brought home the drone for patrol teams to use in forest survey and monitoring.
Yunsiska Ermiasi, Conservation Manager of BNF, expected that the programme should not stop at the handover event.
“The programme should not be ended at this event. It should be sustainable. Therefore, we’ll keep working together and finding a way of what and how we should collaborate in the future for the sake of the better environment” said Siska.
By the end, we thank our donors for supporting us to facilitate local communities in Central Borneo with fire-fighting equipment. This will help ensure the safety as well as the mobility of the communities who risk their lives to save others and the forest.
We would like to share our appreciation to The Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF) for providing us with funding, which has enabled us to grease the wheels of establishing new firefighting communities in two local villages and energizing forest survey & monitoring with advanced drone technology that makes activities much more efficient for the teams.
In addition, BNF would also like to take this opportunity to thank our supporters from Orangutan Conservancy, Yachak and Craig’s List for their generous donation that will go a long way to support local communities. The motorcycle tricycles donated to the firefighting communities in Kereng Bangkirai and Sabaru villages will ensure a quick response as well as to transport crucial fire-fighting equipment when combatting the fires.
Last but not least, thank you to the other donors that have also provided support for these activities, including The Orangutan Project, Arcus Foundation, Orangutan Appeal UK, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Zoos Victoria and LA Zoo.
We have realised our plan to empower local people in Borneo to come together to help overcome the huge challenge of fighting forest fires.