Saving the rainforest with a groundbreaking protected area management model

Sukianto Lusli, Agus Budi Utomo and Yusup Cahyadin – Kenton Miller Award finalists for 2012

Agus Utomo

Sukianto Lusli, Agus Budi Utomo and Yusup Cahyadin have developed and implemented innovative approaches to forest conservation in Indonesia. Sukianto, Agus and Yusup of the NGO Burung Indonesia have tirelessly promoted a management framework that allows production forests to be managed for conservation rather than commercial gain.

Harapan Rainforest on the island of Sumatra is now the first, and only, operational restoration concession in Indonesia, but the legal framework that Burning Indonesia helped to create for it now makes it possible for NGOs or other private organisations to manage logging concessions for conservation rather than for logging and commercial profit. The work of Sukianto, Agus and Yusup led to a change in national policy legislation which set up the framework.

The dynamic team has been key to the adoption and implementation of this forest management model, and in persuading international NGO partners (Birdlife International and Royal Society for Protection of Birds) to support the venture with long-term commitments. Working with these partners, they have secured a 95 year license to conserve and manage a 100,000 hectares concession, which is 10 percent of remaining lowland rainforest on Sumatra. They have demonstrated that these former logging concessions can be managed and restored as valuable assets for biodiversity, protecting threatened habitats and species and supplementing the existing protected area network.

As Indonesia continues to lose its lowland forest at an alarming due to government policies, poor law enforcement and weak governance, the Burung Indonesia model has served as a beacon of biodiversity conservation through innovation, collaboration and unyielding determination. This model can be replicated throughout Indonesia and beyond.

Despite Harapan being the only operational concession to date, some 40 applications have been submitted in Indonesia, covering more than one million hectares of former logging concessions. By protecting lowland forests that are currently under-represented in the formal State protected area network, these new concessions would expand the conservation estate and reduce biodiversity loss in Indonesia. As this innovative approach spreads, others will surely look to the leadership and results of Sukianto, Agus and Yusup for inspiration and guidance on building their own successful protected area management models.

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