The primary driver of deforestation in the Gunung Leuser National Park forests near Ketambe is subsistence agriculture by local farmers; there are currently no large companies in the area converting the forests to any industrial use. Therefore we aim to tackle the root cause of forest degradation around Ketambe by engaging with the local community to alleviate pressures on the forest and establish more sustainable livelihood opportunities, based on the protection, restoration and non-extractive use of the ecosystem.
The CARE project expands on our previous work in Ketambe through the 2009-2010 Aceh Community Conservation Initiative, and the above detailed 2011-2013 KREDI. Under these programmes we have undertaken a lengthy period of consultation with the local people to identify their collective concerns and desires, establish conservation commitments from all sectors, including religious and women’s groups, and develop bespoke Conservation Action Plans.
On visits bringing people from Ketambe to agricultural communities specializing in mixed agroforestry, they learned that with a one hectare plot, with just 300-500 trees, a small amount of livestock to supply manure, and only 1-2 hours of work each day for maintenance, farmers were able to earn approximately $222 to $444 USD per month. This is more than double the amount conventionally earned by villagers in the Ketambe region. They have since expressed a strong interest in implementing similar systems on their own land.
We can therefore be confident that project activities outlined below represent the wishes of the people of Ketambe, motivated by an increased appreciation of the value of the forest ecosystem, and the potential positive impact on their own livelihoods. By increasing agricultural productivity on existing croplands in this area, where farming is the primary livelihood as well as the primary driver for deforestation, pressure on the forests can be alleviated, providing greater security for orangutans and the many other species sharing their habitat.