Saturday, 10 May 2008

Ministry, USAID team up for conservation project

Ministry, USAID team up for conservation project

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta May 9

The Forestry Ministry together with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced more model conservation villages to be built around protected forests and nature preserves.

There are currently 182 conservation villages in West Java, Central Java, East Java, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and North Sumatra, Forestry Minister M.S. Ka'ban said here Wednesday.
"Those villages are located in upstream areas close to nature preserves," he said.

"Through the conservation villages project, we hope local people will help us to preserve forests."

The conservation village project is a community empowerment initiative involving local people. It aims to protect forests and wildlife habitats by reducing deforestation and watershed pollution.

There are around 22 million hectares of conservation area in Indonesia. However, according to the ministry, the areas are endangered by deforestation, forests fires, illegal logging and illegal trading of rare plants and animals.

Deforestation has damaged some 59 million hectares out of the country's 120.35 million hectares of forest.

According to the ministry, 2,040 villages with 660,845 inhabitants, who live adjacent to protected areas, are dependent on the forests for their livelihood.

Darori, the ministry's director general of forest preservation and nature conservation, said the conservation village model aims to educate local people about forest rehabilitation and ecosystem restoration.

"As a start, we must give people who live nearby the protected areas the correct information about forest preservation so as to maximize the benefits through conservation," he said.
"People must understand they will gain greater access to clean water through environment preservation," he said.

According to the director of Basic Human Services of USAID, Alfred Nakatsuma, the five-year project, which started in 2005, is having a positive effect.

"So far we're very happy with the results and we're planning future activities. Hopefully, the conservation village models can soon be implemented nationwide," he said.

Aep Saefudin, a conservation village resident living in Sukatani, Cianjur, West Java, said he was excited about the project.

"The field school, one of the programs within the project, has given us greater knowledge of how to benefit from the land properly," he said.

"However, not all of the villagers have benefited from the project yet. I suggest the government and USAID continue the project some time into the future," he said. (nkn)