On the 5th of August 2021, at 6.45pm Western Indonesian Time, our beloved Yunsiska Ermiasi passed away from COVID-19. Siska, as she was known, was a Deputy Director for the Borneo Nature Foundation Indonesia (BNF). She died while being treated at the Muhammadiyah Hospital, in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia; and her body was buried at Pal 12 Cemetery in Palangka Raya on the 6th of August 2021.
Siska was born on the 12th of June 1981 in the village of Tewang Pajangan, Kurun District, Gunung Mas Regency, Central Kalimantan. Her village had strong ancestral values for protecting and preserving their forests and environment. Thus, with an already strong passion for protecting the environment, Siska started her career in conservation in 2003, after completing her bachelor’s degree in Agronomy and Soil Science. In 2014 Siska graduated as a Postgraduate with a Master’s degree in Environment and Natural Resources Management, from the University of Palangka Raya.
Siska worked at the Centre for International Cooperation of Sustainable Management of Tropical Peatlands (UPT LLG CIMTROP), at the University of Palangka Raya since 1998, and as their Secretarial Coordinator from 2006; helping to coordinate multiple conservation and research projects. During this time, she developed a deep knowledge of peatland conservation and development issues in the region. This included working on a major project involving the Department of Forestry and the University of Helsinki which starting in 2011. Within her role with CIMTROP, she was also extremely supportive to the many foreign researchers, including all the BNF International Directors who remember her kindness, patience, and whose support was invaluable.
In 2016, Siska formally joined BNF Indonesia as our Conservation Manager and was placed in charge of several large conservation projects. She was responsible for establishing and overseeing BNFs reforestation project, community nurseries, firefighting teams, and liaising with many different parties to make sure that these projects were a success. Then in 2019, she was appointed as a Deputy Director (I) for BNF Indonesia, where she excelled. She was extremely committed, passionate and hard-working; and was a true advocate for Dayak women in conservation. The BNF family are so proud and privileged to have had Siska working with them.
There are few people as kind, generous and warm-hearted as Siska. Her family, friends and the whole BNF family around the world have been deeply saddened and shocked by her death, especially as it was so sudden and unexpected. Losing her has left a great void in our hearts, both personally and professionally. We will try to continue what she has started. She was an important conservation advocate in Kalimantan. She was an inspiring and very humble person. A Dayak woman from a humble background, who gave her short life to make a real and lasting impact on society and conservation in Kalimantan.
BNF will continue her work and her legacy, and will be setting up a fund in her name to support Dayak women in conservation.
Rest in peace, Siska! You were a shining light in this world and will never be forgotten!
From the BNF Family