In a province with dense forests like Central Kalimantan, people are very dependent on what nature provides. The food, water, and livelihoods all come from nature. This has made a very strong connection between local people and the forests which are just a few minutes walk from their neighbourhood. However, the economic shift has neglected this immense value of the forest where society prefers the easy-money practices which are frequently unsustainable.
Therefore, locating people at the heart of conservation is deemed necessary for the best practices of forest management. As for this reason, Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) has recently initiated Community Development (ComDev) Programme for local communities who live side by side with the Rungan forest. The programme provides access for the local people to learn the alternative and sustainable livelihoods from the experts.
With generous support from our partners, Save The Orangutan and Civil Society in Development (CISU), Rainforest Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we’re able to carry out ComDev programme in four administrative villages in Rakumpit District which is a part of the Rungan Landscapes. These are the village of Bukit Sua, Panjehang, Petuk Berunai, and Mungku Baru.
Based on the data collected, the majority of the communities have shifted from the rubber plantation to the mining practices as the primary source of their income. Mining operations have been practiced for the past years since the decline of the rubber price in the market and the remote access of the village has made the transport cost unaffordable. As a result, the lands that used to be the rubber plantation are left and abandoned. Although gold mining is considered to be more promising, the business has also put serious threats to the environment as mercury is frequently used to leach gold from ores.
The training has been kicked off since 2018 and will continue for several months ahead. The participants benefitted the farming knowledge of agricultural commodities such as mustard leaf, spinach, tomatoes, beans, and other local vegetable products. They were not only engaged in theoretical sessions but were also encouraged to do the farming on individual lands that should be monitored and checked regularly because later they will have to present the progress report of the farming practices to the team. In addition to that, the participants also received the seedlings for agricultural commodities from the BNF teams that fully support the training.
In the long run, the training will be aimed at the long-term agricultural products that will be expected to be income-generating for local communities. The future design of the programme will also be attempted at the establishment of the group farming for these agricultural products. Through this programme, it’s expected that the local communities will shift from the unstainable economy to green income-generating activities.