2015 was a disastrous year for the forests of Indonesia.
With over 2 million hectares (almost half the size of the Netherlands!) of forestland going up in smoke between August and November last year, the forest fires in Indonesia count as the largest environmental disaster of the century. Although the fires are finally over and policies are made to prevent such devastation in the future, the danger is not over yet. El Nino is still present and the first signs of drought are already surfacing in East Kalimantan. Unfortunately, it looks like the dry season in 2016 will once again be long and dangerous. Hopefully, it will be possible to better control any new forest fires.
The Masarang Foundation will keep trying to save the forest by empowering the local people. We hereby name a few of the highlights from 2015, that strengthen the basis for our activities in 2016 and beyond.
The largest environmental disaster of the century.
The American ambassador visiting Tasikoki.
After the American ambassador visited Tasikoki early last year, new partnerships have been formed with programs from the US government and new funds have been made available. Tasikoki was again visited by more students from the international school program compared to the year before. This is mainly made possible through the support of the Masarang Hong Kong Society. In 2016 again more students are expected, as well as some other groups that have booked a weeks’ program at Tasikoki, further strengthening the financial base for the Wildlife Rescue Center. Tasikoki also signed partnership with the World Parrot Trust for further supporting the bird care and rehabilitation work that is done at Tasikoki.
At the other side of the peninsula, the Masarang foundation is ready to again distribute water to the people in case of persisting drought, as they have done in 2015. Furthermore, the foundation is raising funds to buy the land around the most important spring of the city, in order to secure the fresh water supply of Tomohon. Through donations from Masarang International, the first downpayment could be done. This year the fundraising continues to pay the remaining amount.
The Masarang sugar factory renewed their partnership with Pertamina in order to secure the steam supply of the factory for the future. The sugar factory in Tomohon runs solely on the leftover (waste) steam that is produced while producing geothermal energy in the Pertamina plant right next to the sugar factory, saving approximately 200.000 trees each year.
In East Kalimantan, Willie Smits’ reforestation project of 600.000 hectare (about the size of Gelderland province) is about to start. For this project Willie works together with many professional parties. After Willie’s presentation at COP21 in Paris, many more parties from countries in the tropical zones around the world showed interest. With this huge project, Willie and his partners hope to prove that through combining agroforestry, reforestation and forest conservation can safeguard a sustainable future for the next generations to come in a way that benefits not only the people, but also the wildlife and the planet.
Soap produced in the new factory in Tembak
In West Kalimantan, Masarang opened it’s first palm sugar production facility,
in order to meet the increasing market demand. Around the tengkawang factory, an example garden was developed growing several types of vegetables and fruits, using 2 by-products from the tengkawang production, compost and biochar. And with the soap production another source of income for the factory was developed. In 2016, the palmsugar production will be expanded further, amongst other through the cooperation with Credit Union.
Another important focus is education of the local farmers in sustainable agriculture practices, mainly by means of making compost and using biochar. Masarang will build several biochar ovens in the province and is developing a socialization programme. Furthermore, Masarang is supporting several communities around Sintang to secure their communal forests, by means of mapping their land, forming community organizations and filing applications for their land to be officially recognized as ‘Communal Land’ with the head of the district.
A huge thank you to all our supporters for providing us with the opportunity to do this work. We hope we can count on you in the coming years as well!!