Draw me a tree…

29 January 2010 | Photos

Supporting the lives of indigenous people while securing their cultural identity, traditional knowledge and natural resources is no easy task. IUCN’s Agni Klintuni Boedhihartono, or Intu, as she likes to be called by her friends, has found a way to reconcile these challenges. Her work shows that passion, hard work and creativity can have an extraordinary impact on people’s lives and the biodiversity on which they depend.

For Intu, cultural or linguistic barriers are there to be broken. In her work, she aims to find a balance between conservation and the social, cultural and economic development of forest-dependent people by addressing them directly and focusing on their needs and expectations. To allow local stakeholders to have a stronger voice in negotiations about conservation and land use, and to help indigenous people communicate their needs more effectively, Intu uses her artistic skills as a communication tool. This surmounts any possible language or culture barriers. The visualization technique that she employs allows local people to draw their landscapes sending strong messages as to what is really going on within them, how they have changed and what is needed to restore them. The drawings then form the basis of action plans and help monitor changes resulting from conservation and development action.

Alongside helping local communities to explore various conservation, development and landscapes scenarios, Intu also aims at securing their rights to natural resources and the biodiversity on which they depend.

“Visioning is a tool that helps us to better understand
the important elements in a landscape, as local people
visualize the current landscape and the changes they
would like to see in the future.

This technique is most effective when used by several
small groups, to understand their different visions of the
landscape. Once they produce their landscape ‘maps’,
the groups can come together for a discussion and an
exchange of views.

The visual technique can empower marginalized groups who
have not been listened to in traditional conservation planning.
It helps prevent ‘experts’ arriving with ready-made solutions
or ready-made agendas.”

Intu has also been involved in the “Altering Landscapes” climate and art project which, by inviting people to paint their thoughts on huge murals, helps them get their messages about climate change through to decision-makers. The project aims at raising awareness among teenagers and young adults of the challenges of climate change, and for all of us to learn from the youth about their concerns and hopes for the future.

Having participated in numerous IUCN missions, Intu joined IUCN in January 2007 to work on landscapes and community engagement within the Forest Conservation Programme. Traditional knowledge, cultural diversity, indigenous people’s rights and conservation are at the centre of her interests. She has worked with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, in the most remote places on earth.

Intu comes from Jakarta, Indonesia. She completed her education in Paris, with some impressive results: she graduated from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Audiovisual Arts, a Master’s degree in Ethnology, Anthropology and Science of Religion and a PhD in Ethnology, with a specialization in Visual Anthropology. She has made numerous films and written many articles on the subject of indigenous people, cultures and conservation and has received a great number of awards and scholarships for her work.

Listen to Intu talking about her work with indigenous people:

 

Click here to learn more about the Altering Landscapes project she has been involved in. 

Below, you can view Intu's beautiful photo gallery: