A good week!

A good week it was. For a full seven days, I could spend time with the boards of Masarang International, Masarang Hong Kong and Masarang Indonesia, while at the same time also showing a party interested in carbon credits around. During this week, we also held final interviews with candidates for the Masarang Indonesia CEO position, we accepted a new veterinarian to work at Tasikoki and had interviews for an operational manager at Tasikoki while also working on the new website and agreeing on an improved logo for our foundations that we will soon share with all of you.

Here is a picture of the international Masarang representatives and supporters that worked hard for the future of the Masarang Foundation during their time in Tomohon, Sulawesi.

International Masarang representatives and supporters
International Masarang representatives and supporters
Pulisan reforestation area
Pulisan reforestation area

During the week, we also visited many of the reforestation sites of Masarang in Tomohon, such as the 80 hectare Pulisan reforestation, the Masarang Mountain reforestation and many of the new forests that were planted through a special cooperation with local people and local government. We visited the Tulap turtle beach where the reforestation scheme supported by Hong Kong schools is coming along nicely. And Tasikoki itself with its stunning views and its special animals could not be left out.

Rumpina crater
Rumpina crater

Here is a picture of the group together with two visitors, Nick and Scott, from a company interested in the carbon sequestration potential of our reforestation scheme. The Masarang forest behind captures much water from the clouds that pass by. It was a wet climb to this extinct volcano crater in light rain and through very slippery mud! This crater is called Rumpina and will be the site of our cooperation with the Sam Ratulangi University from Manado and will have a visitor center for schools

Esther Masarang International
Esther from Masarang International

During the visit we also celebrated the Birthday of Esther in the lovely Gardenia Country Inn of Tomohon.

A worldchanging project

After North Sulawesi, we visited the Arsari Enviro Industri site near Balikpapan, in East Kalimantan, where the work of Masarang is now being implemented on a massive scale and where sugar palms from Tomohon are already starting to provide sustainable livelihood for many local people whilst a million new specially selected sugar palms are on their way to be planted under the Rebuild agroforestry-based reforestation scheme in the coming months. And to top off the week we spent a night at my Samboja Ecolodge and visited the various activities there.

visiing the Arsari Enviro Industry site near Balikpapan
Visiting the Arsari Enviro Industry site near Balikpapan

In the picture above we are standing on a sandstone rock, overlooking the vast area of good rain forest behind us that will be preserved forever by Arsari Enviro Industri, the company that could have taken the logs but only works with reforestation of the degraded forests in the area through agroforestry with sugar palms and a mix of other local tree species. Any good forest is excluded from commercial operations.

View from the fire tower of Samboja Lestari
A picture from the fire tower of Samboja Lestari. Behind us a sea of green where once was nothing else but a biological dessert of short yellow grass. The power of nature!

Oh, I almost forgot… I was also invited to meet with the Bupati of the district of Paser Penajam Utara, which is the district where Arsari Enviro Industri is located, to discuss the land use planning for the district. The Bupati agreed with my proposal that the best option to protect the future water needs of the district was to safeguard an area of around 30.000 hectares of still mostly pristine forest that directly borders the new Arsari Lestari protected forest! Together with the adjoining Meratus Mountain this means that we are now looking at an area of more than 100.000 hectares of contiguous forest in good condition to be protected forever!

Willie Smits
Here a picture during the presentation. The projector did not work so many of the department heads of the Bupati tried to get glimpses of the maps and pictures I showed them.

The Bupati had attended the Governors for Climate and Forests conference and together with the governor of East-Kalimantan, my long-time friend Awang Faroek, visited the Arsari Enviro Industri operations that include a large new nature reserve voluntarily taken out from the commercial harvesting rights to support wildlife conservation and drinking water for nearby Balikpapan. He heard the positive feedback from the many conference attendants about our scheme. He now supports the new forest area in his district to be protected for his future water needs. Excellent!

Whilst cruising through thousands of hectares of pristine mangrove forest in the Bay of Balikpapan that the Bupati has entrusted to be safeguarded from charcoal making wood collectors and poachers we also got to see the Irrawaddy dolphins playing in the water. A group of two adults and one young! Such a rare event! So much is happening that it is hard to keep up with everything.

COP23, climate conference

Masarang is making an impact! For thousands of local farmers and for large scale environmentally friendly biodivers reforestation. And I just heard that I have been asked to present in Bonn at COP23 about the updates with our profitable climate solutions. Onward we’ll go! Many thanks to all our loyal supporters around the world that are giving us the chance to demonstrate that a small group of dedicated people can make a real difference!

Willie Smits
1 November