Based on the island of Borneo in Indonesia, this REDD+ project preserves carbon-dense tropical peat swamp by helping to halt deforestation of roughly 47,000 hectares of forest which were originally slated for conversion to palm oil plantations. The project focuses on both community development – encompassing 2,000 households living within the project area – and biodiversity conservation, particularly the protection of the endangered Borneo Orangutan. In order to deliver on its goals, the project actively engages local communities to improve food security, income opportunities, health care, and education – all with the support of carbon finance.
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Contributions to the community – Plans for 2016
Health and Well-being
Given the remoteness of the project area, access to medical care is poor, untimely and costly. In its efforts to promote the well-being of local communities, the project will be supporting the build of a floating medical clinic, including medical supplies and training of staff to provide immediate access to healthcare for the forest dependent communities surrounding the Rimba Raya reserve.
Carbon revenues will also be used to support delivery of an immunisation programme to ensure every child living within the project zone will be vaccinated against all major childhood diseases.
Education and Skills
The project has established a scholarship fund that will be used to enhance educational access by funding the education of 3,750 community students for the next 10 years. Funds will also be used to provide 75,000 writing books.
Despite the abundance of the surrounding forests, acidic peat soils do not support the cultivation of vegetables. With this staple food source lacking from their diet, vitamin deficiencies are common for local populations. In 2016, as a pilot exercise, the project will fund the construction and technical training for several community vegetable gardens. Results and lessons learned will be documented at the end of the year to advise the roll out of similar gardens to all remaining villages in 2017.
Traditionally, the main protein source for local populations has been fish. However, mining upstream has silted the Seruyan River and so depleted natural fish stocks. Unsustainable fishing practices within the flooded forests of Rima Raya (the fish nursery) have further exacerbated this problem. Following the successful implementation of a community fish farm in 2015, this year the project will be supporting the construction of two further farms. This will include stocking the farms with native fish species and offering technical training to local ambassadors to support their upkeep. These farms expect to provide a valuable and dependable source of protein for local communities, with a future hope of using the farms to replenish some of the wild fish stocks.
Keen to provide another protein source for local communities, the project will be supporting the construction and stocking of two community poultry egg farms. Once more, technical training will be offered to local residents to ensure the successful running and longevity of these ventures. To promote sustainable practice, manure from the poultry farms will be used as fertiliser for the community vegetable gardens. Eventually the hope is to use the manure to power a low-tech rural biogas digester (as shown in image to the left) to provide a clean, renewable energy source for local community needs.
Currently households living within Rimba Raya rely on fuel wood and diesel-powered generators for a couple of hours of light each evening. Both of these energy sources are unsustainable and polluting, contributing to climate change and negative health impacts from the inhalation of fuel particles. During quarter one of 2016, the project will be installing solar systems for every household living within the project area. This renewable energy source will reduce expenditure on alternative fuels for lighting and reduce indoor air pollution. Extended light hours is expected to enhance the quality of life for these households, enabling children to study during the evening, and providing extended hours of work for income generating activities.
Left unchecked, fires can be catastrophic if they take root in peat soils. Community fire brigades are a vital line of defence in protecting the reserve from fires that might blow in from neighbouring palm oil plantations. Major investment was made in firefighting equipment and training in 2015, and the project is looking to double this effort again in 2016. Beyond prevention of environmental degradation, community fire brigades play a key role in capacity building, employment, and community engagement. This year the project plans to invest in:
- Hiring more community members in the fire brigade
- Water pump speed boat
- Moto-striker trail motorcycle equipped for fire fighting
- 4×4 jeep equipped for fire fighting
- Tempered steel hand tools
- Fire suits and boots
- Fire brigade training
Carbon finance plays an important role in supporting the project fund its conservation and community based activities. So far the project – located in carbon-dense tropical peat swamp forest – has verified over 15 million tonnes of emission reductions (up to the end of June 2014), and has delivered essential sustainable development benefits to the ecosystem, households, and communities living within the Rimba Raya project area.