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Supporting villages to protect forests


As a responsible producer, GAR wants to ensure that forests and neighbouring villages are well taken care of wherever we operate. This can be tricky sometimes when the villages rely on clearing areas of the forest to grow food for their own survival.

Take for example Indonesia’s most recent haze episode. World Resources Institute data shows that a majority of fires were set outside of concessions, meaning small scale slash-and-burn agriculture, which could be for subsistence crops.

We’ve realised the best way to show villagers the value of protecting forests is to help them ensure basic needs like water, housing, and especially food security, are met. Food security is an area where GAR is well placed to help because as expert farmers ourselves, we can translate our skills in oil palm farming to other crops.

In partnership with Wageningen University, we are working on a four-year forest protection programme with four villages in Central Kalimantan –  Kalang village, Panimba Raya village, Hujung Pata village and Luwuk Lengkuas village.

The objective of this project, which started in October 2017, is to develop and test practical ways to support local villagers, to enhance their livelihoods so that they are directly benefitting from forest conservation, resulting in little to no disturbance of protected forests within the landscape around plantations.

Villages can now grow and sell coffee for additional income.

So far, the results in the last two years have been positive and include:

  • Additional means of livelihood such as vegetables, rice, livestock, coffee, and honey
  • Improved nutrition intake from greater variety of produce grown
  • Less money spent on buying vegetables, and additional income from selling crops and livestock
  • High participation rates and replication by several villagers
  • Development of special village-branded products
  • Development of marketing network for certain products
Götz Martin (far right), presenting a coffee plant to a villager as a symbolic gesture of partnership.

Götz Martin, Head of Sustainability Implementation, “In the next phase, we will evaluate the results with Wageningen University and scale up where appropriate. We want to show how serious we are about forest conservation and through initiatives like these, we can hopefully change perceptions about our industry being the cause of deforestation.”

GAR conducts a host of other farming initiatives with villages. Learn about them here.

Hear about the positive impact of these farming initiatives from farmers themselves. Yatimin shares his story.

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