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Belantara Foundation in Supporting Community-Based Restoration Initiatives, Protection and Community Empowerment in The Targeted Villages at Orang Kayo Hitam Grand Forest Park - Berbak, Jambi.

The Belantara Foundation supports an initiative that focuses on critical peatland restoration, forest and land protection from fires, and community development activities to improve their living standards in targeted villages at Orang Kayo Hitam Grand Forest Park (TAHURA) in Berbak, Jambi. This initiative has been going on for 32 months since its inception in the last quarter of 2016.

The restoration program’s planting process has been done since October 2017 with a total planting area reaching 75 hectares from each village combined. There are three locations that become the focus for the restoration activities, they are: Sungai Aur Village, Gedong Karya Village, and Simpang Village. To date, a total of 25,000 locally grown crops have been planted; ranging from spinach, Jelutung rawa (Dyera polyphylla), candlenut (Aleurites moluccana) and fruits such as cempedak (Artocarpus integer), durian (Durio zibethinus), and jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus).

In Sungai Aur Village, 20,000 stems have been planted in 50 hectares of critical land, followed by the planting in Simpang Village which has reached 25 hectars with a total of 5,000 seedlings. However, in Gedong Karya Village, planting activities can not be done because the location for planting has been flooded since October 2017. In the planting process, the community has participated and helpfully provided assistance from the initial stage of seed searching, nursery in a centralized location in each area, to planting and monitoring.

In addition to restoration activities, this initiative also focuses on forest and land protection activities from fires by combining the construction of mitigation infrastructures and providing trainings. The forms of of mitigation infrastructure constructions being the construction of a canal blocks, fire watch towers, and warning boards. While the trainings are focused on improving the communities capacity in fire prevention for villagers who are members of KMPA (Masyarakat Peduli Api – Community Fire Response Teams.

By December 2017, there have been 3 (three) canal units built in Sungai Alur vIllage. Also, the fire monitoring tower has been built and the procurement of fire-fighting equipment for each KMPA group (Gedong Karya Village, Sungai Aur Village and Simpang Village) also has been completed.

Currently, 6 warning boards have been installed, which are in Gedong Karya Village, Sungai Aur Village, and Simpang Village; these board show the critical condition of TAHURA and the need for joint efforts to avoid the dangers of fire.

In addition, as a form of capacity building, agricultural development and economic improvement of communities in target villages, this initiative also develops raising cattle and biogas using a livestock profit sharing system with the communities and in its process cooperates with the Department of Agriculture Food Crops, Holticulture and Livestock of Jambi Province. Participants from the three target villages participated in livestock management training and biogas processing, in which the participants were also invited to see the process and workings on how cattle fattening management works.

Furthermore, in an effort to increase the people's knowledge of green practices and natural resource empowerment, 3 libraries have been built and functions as a center for knowledge for the community with the purpose of encouraging public awareness in safeguarding the ecosystem.

At the inauguration ceremonies of the libraries in Gedong Karya Village, Sungai Aur Village and Simpang lead by the Head of Library and Archive Service of Jambi Province, various series of activities were held; such as drawing and coloring contests for elementary and kindergarten childrens, which was enlivened by 5 surrounding villages. Each of the three library contains a total of 1,304 relevant reading books for children, youth, women, farmers, and others, and are related forestry, agriculture, and society. In addition, each library also has 4 units of bookshelves and 4 tables to help the communities in their quest for knowledge. The hope is that knowledge gained by the target villagers can then be shared with the wider communites.

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