By Ranti Naruri, Sustainable Livelihoods Manager & Edi Rahman, Conservation Field Director
One of Yayasan Palung’s (GPOCP’s) signature programs is assisting communities to gain control of their traditional forests so that they can be managed sustainably. We have provided this support to several villages in Simpang Hilir District through a number of social forestry initiatives, one of which is for village forests (Hutan Desa). We have helped seven communities in this district to achieve official recognition of their Hutan Desa from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia. This allows these forests to be officially managed and sustainably utilized by these village communities.
All the Hutan Desa are located in peat swamp forests, which provide a home for many protected animals, including orangutans. However, because most of the area is peat, it is very vulnerable to forest and land fires, which usually occur in the dry season. Various efforts have been made by Yayasan Palung to prevent forest and land fires, including awareness campaigns, training on land clearing without burning (PLTB), and most recently, providing firefighting equipment.
In 2019, Yayasan Palung provided one set of firefighting equipment, which was placed in the Nipah Kuning Hutan Desa. This past month, we provided an additional five units of equipment. Four of these sets were given to the Hutan Desa in Padu Banjar Village, Pulau Kumbang Village, Pemangkat Village, and Penjalaan Village. The fifth set was given to the village of Tanjung Gunung, which directly borders the National Park, and is the entry point for researchers to hike to Cabang Panti Research Station.
The firefighting equipment we provided will help extinguish fires in the event of forest and/or land fires in each village, both inside and outside the village forest area. Forest and land fires most often occur on community land when people clear land for agriculture. Eventually, if not contained, these fires can spread to village forests and other forested areas. It is our hope that this equipment will help halt the spread of fires if they occur. This firefighting equipment is also easily transportable because it only weighs about 11 kilograms, making it very easy to extinguish fires in a variety of locations, as long as there is a water source.
In the Hutan Desa, delivery of equipment was carried out at each respective village office, and received by the head of each Hutan Desa Management Board (LPHD). This was also witnessed by Ibu Dwi Erlina Susanti (head of the Community Protection and Empowerment Section, Technical Implementation Unit of the Kayong Utara Forest Management Unit), the Village Head and village officials. The delivery of equipment for Tanjung Gunung was carried out at the Bentangor Center and presented to the “Mina Sehati” aquaculture group, then brought back to the village.
After all the equipment was given out, we facilitated a training on fighting forest and land fires. The training was run by three staff from Manggala Agni, an Indonesian Forest Fire Control Brigade. Participants included representatives from the 5 LPHD, members of the Mina Sehati group in Tanjung Gunung, staff from the Gunung Palung National Park Office (BTN-GP) and staff from the Kayong Utara Forestry Service (KPH). Participants were introduced to all the equipment and learned techniques for the use and maintenance of the tools. They also learned fundamentals about fighting forest and land fires. They then practiced using the equipment during a firefighting simulation, dividing into teams with different roles in the event of a fire.
We are grateful to have support from our funders to be able to provide this equipment for the community. This training comes at just the right time, as we will soon enter the driest part of the year, when the land is most vulnerable to fire. By building up the capacity of these local community groups, we can empower people to protect and sustainably manage their land, and work together to preserve forests and the biodiversity within them.
As we approach the dry season, we would like to raise funds to buy two additional sets of firefighting equipment to give to two Hutan Desa in Rantau Panjang and Batu Barat villages. Please consider making a charitable donation to help support this initiative.