Having observed its fifth anniversary last October, the Riau Ecosystem Restoration (or Restorasi Ekosistem Riau, RER) project recently published its 2018 progress report. The report documents the work done and results achieved in various areas of the multi-faceted project.
The RER team, comprising conservation experts as well as forestry and sustainability professionals from APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited), was pleased to have reported that for the fourth consecutive year, the conservation area has been free from encroachment and fires. This achievement represents the area’s longest uninterrupted period of forest recovery this century – an encouraging result of the production-protection integration well-managed neighbouring plantations as well as regular community engagement.
The RER project has over the years demonstrated the effectiveness of the production-protection model in sustaining and safeguarding restoration and conservation efforts. The model is operationalised into three strategic thrusts in Biodiversity, Climate and Community, all of which are intricately linked.
The Community Factor
A key component of RER’s work lies in the close engagement with communities in the vicinity – a sizeable 17,000 around the Kampar Peninsula. The community-focused work has been supported by social equity consultancy partner Bidara, which focuses on local community development. The organisation works closely with the RER team to develop self-reliance in rural communities in the area, while building fire-free agricultural practices and skills in organic farming and animal husbandry.
Building capacities for the purpose of self-reliance provides a stable and more sustainable source of income for the community. Continuous education in “no burn” practices also helps mitigate the risk of burning and harming the sanctity of the conservation area. There still lie ahead challenges in addressing poaching, but the team remains committed to working with communities, government officers and other experts to develop and drive sustainable solutions.
The embedding of people and partnerships in the production-protection model is seen as critical to RER’s effectiveness. Already over 80 per cent of RER’s workforce are from Pelalawan and Kepulauan Meranti regencies in Riau, where the RER-protected areas are situated – building on local social and cultural capital to create value for the landscape, benefiting communities, economy and the environment.
Visit the Riau Ecosystem Restoration website or APRIL Dialog for the latest updates on the project!
Community is just one of many focus areas the RER team engages. You may find more information on APRIL Dialog, or download and browse the RER 2018 Progress Report.