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Forest fragmentation in Indonesia’s West Toba forests is putting pressure on the existence of endangered species like the Sumatran orangutan. This project supports communities in the region by promoting sustainable land stewardship whilst addressing livelihood concerns
West Toba, Indonesia, is an important hotspot for biodiversity and connects several primary forest areas, including the Siranggas Wildlife Reserve and the Sikulaping Protection Forest. The site is a critical corridor that ensures the migration and movement of endangered species, such as the Sumatran orangutan.
In recent years, increased forest degradation and fragmentation have been driven by infrastructure development and small-holder agricultural expansion in support of local economic development.
Local communities rely on West Toba’s forests for their well-being, but traditional land management practices are eroding due to societal change. Palm oil is known to be a productive and in-demand commodity. Its economic appeal means that many farmers are shifting from traditional agroforestry systems, with a variety of trees and crops, to monoculture plantations of palm trees. Although it is possible to grow palm oil sustainably and in agroforestry systems, many smallholders lack access to information about how to do so.
If forest fragmentation continues, the West Toba forests could lose some of the ecological services they provide to local communities and wider society.
Community consultations were carried out to understand the concerns and needs of three villages located in and adjacent to a key wildlife corridor. The communities ranked livelihood improvement, economic development, and improved access to services higher than ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. Therefore, in collaboration with the local communities, the project will look at ways to address the community’s livelihood concerns whilst preserving the forests.
In the early stages of the project, information and training activities will be organised for the communities. The communities will be empowered and will have the agency to achieve sustainable use and stewardship of their land through a variety of community-based conservation and development schemes. This will help to build the forest’s resilience and maintain their rich biodiversity
The project will be scaled up to include other villages in Sumatra’s forests to build ecosystem resilience over greater areas of the island.
Sumatran Orangutan Society (SOS) was founded in 2001 by Lucy Wisdom in order to realise her vision of a safe future for wild orangutans and their forest home. Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered and without urgent action could be the first Great Ape species to become extinct. SOS is dedicated to turning this situation aroundLearn more
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