Thank you for your interesting questions about Belantikan Conservation Programme (BCP). You are right, Belantikan does need protection and we are looking for protected status, but we want this under local management with the involvement of the village communities. Protected status would then stop all legal logging and mineral extraction. We are working with the village communities of the Belantikan, who are highly dependent upon the forests, to identify and implement sustainable ways to generate an income. The working relationship between the communities and the BCP team is an honest and open one and this really helps to facilitate our work here.
The BCP has a strong focus on sustainable agriculture with an emphasis on rattan harvesting. The Balai Belajar is the training centre for this and monthly meetings are also held here to evaluate the projects. Since the project started the number of people engaged in rattan harvesting has increased sharply from only one or two people per village, harvesting rattan occasionally, to over 20 people now deriving an income from it. The BCP has identified markets and traders and put the communities in touch with them and in recent months, the communities twice sold rattan at a profit with no intervention from project staff. Rubber cultivation is also being established and training sessions are again held in the Balai Belajar.
The Balai Belajar
An eco-tourism programme has been designed in consultation with the villages and we hope this will also generate alternative income. We are looking to run the first trip later this year. Participants will visit and stay at the villages and will have a unique opportunity to witness the local rituals and ceremonies, not to mention experience Belantikan’s incredible wildlife and natural wonders.
However, things are never simple. For those of you who are from Europe you might be aware that there is currently a European Union directive that bans flying on all of Indonesia’s airlines. This makes eco-tourism difficult, as it is virtually impossible to get travel insurance and our Study Tours to Tanjung Puting National Park have had to be postponed as a result. We still plan to establish eco-tourism in Belantikan and we will have to find a way around the EU directive!
More on Belantikan and its treasures soon…