Forests for the long run: making an enduring impression for folks and forests in Asia and the Pacific


Native communities know their forests higher than anybody, and nothing can change their experience in forest conservation. Because the Forest Governance Challenge demonstrates, when given the chance they’ll create a greater future for themselves and nature.

A world with out forests could be a world with out life. But regardless of this well-known reality, it’s no secret that forests across the globe are beneath risk and disappearing earlier than our eyes.

Forests throughout Asia and the Pacific are notably particular, teeming with an abundance of birds and different wildlife. Sadly, this has not been sufficient to spare them from deforestation and unlawful logging, however in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and The Philippines, that is beginning to change because of native communities.

These international locations all host an astonishing abundance and number of vegetation, birds and different animals, many of those species discovered nowhere else on Earth. Indigenous peoples and native communities inside these international locations rely upon the forests for his or her livelihoods, and plenty of have a novel religious and cultural relationship with the forest.

Native folks have been on the coronary heart of the Asia-Pacific Forest Governance Challenge since its inception 5 years in the past. They know the forests like nobody else and their drive to guard them is powerful, but it surely has been hindered till now by a scarcity of technical expertise and political affect. Recognising this, the Forest Governance Challenge got down to empower and interact indigenous peoples and native communities, equipping them with the best expertise to successfully handle their forests.

Ornate Pitta, copyright Andy Walker, from the surfbirds galleries

Dr Hum Gurung, Forest Governance Challenge Supervisor at BirdLife Worldwide, explains: “Our mission companions have had a protracted expertise working with native communities and indigenous folks on the key websites, and this mission actually helped to construct their capacities. They’ve labored intently with native and indigenous folks and considerably contributed to their understanding and expertise for forest monitoring, conservation and selling forest-based merchandise for his or her livelihoods.”

Inclusive and efficient forest governance may assist in the direction of implementing and attaining the local weather targets of the Paris Settlement, the Sustainable Growth Objectives and proposed targets of the International Biodiversity Framework to assist an equitable, nature-positive and carbon-neutral future. Because of this, the conservation, restoration and sustainable administration of forests has by no means been extra pressing.


Indonesia boasts round 3% of the world’s forests and the nation is house to an astounding 1,812 fowl species. Making certain these forests are managed sustainably has been an ongoing problem, with conservation efforts having to compete with intensive farming and deforestation, usually pushed by poverty and the necessity for fast earnings being prioritised over defending nature.

In Mbeliling, a extremely biodiverse ecosystem on the island of Flores, Burung Indonesia (BirdLife Accomplice) has been working with native communities to make sure that conservation efforts shield the forest whereas additionally benefitting the individuals who reside there. Neighborhood participation has been central to its work, involving villagers within the strategy of figuring out threats to the forest and native livelihoods, and deciding collectively tips on how to handle them.

A committee chosen by native folks ensures that the work is carried out, and these agreements are recognised by authorities coverage makers. To maintain monitor of progress, common monitoring within the space is carried out and reported to Burung Indonesia and the federal government.

This sounds good in principle, however does it lead to optimistic change? Monitoring within the space has proven diminished threats to wildlife, notably birds, and the neighborhood has a greater understanding of how a wholesome atmosphere additionally means a more healthy life for them. Native livelihoods have additionally benefitted from eco-friendly enterprise alternatives, comparable to exporting sustainable timber – which is supported by the supply of timber processing machines, protecting gear and official coaching for staff.


Greater than half of Malaysia is roofed by forest, however deforestation stays an enormous risk to its survival. A key problem has been placing a steadiness between financial growth and sustainability, because the nation’s financial system is heaving depending on forest assets. This problem is additional intensified by a scarcity of forest governance.

As a part of the Forest Governance Challenge, the Malaysian Nature Society (BirdLife Accomplice) launched a nationwide ‘Forest Watch’ platform to permit native communities to entry up-to-date info on forest cowl change, forest fires, unlawful logging and different forest threats to assist their conservation efforts. As well as, it has initiated quite a few workshops to coach on forest governance points and supply forest coverage coaching for native communities and indigenous peoples.

Neighborhood-based forest monitoring in Peninsula Malaysia’s Central Forest Backbone and the guts of Borneo can be contributing to the conservation of forests and the species inside them. Additionally it is empowering native communities, notably the Orang Asli indigenous folks. They assess the situation of the forest by participating native ‘Hornbill Guardians’ and volunteers, who conduct common hornbill monitoring of the eight species present in Borneo, recording sightings of nests, fledglings and the variety of younger chicks and grownup birds.

Moreover, the Malaysian Nature Society’s involvement and expertise in forest policymaking, together with REDD+ readiness processes present that non-state actors can play an vital bridging position in addressing scalar and sectoral gaps and securing coverage integration.

Papua New Guinea

Most forests in Papua New Guinea, that are house to 39 species of birds-of-paradise together with many different endemics, are owned by native communities or tribes who rely upon them for meals and shelter. Nevertheless, huge swathes of forest are nonetheless being degraded by industrial logging enterprises and cleared for agricultural use, comparable to for oil palm plantations.

To encourage and allow communities to sustainably handle their forests, the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) has helped them to know the worth and advantages of doing so. This strategy has led to communities altering their behaviours, all made potential by coaching offered by TCA and technical assist from the College of Papua New Guinea. Family tree to hint their ancestors’ villages has enabled neighborhood members to attract land boundaries and signal landowner agreements, strengthening their capacity to successfully handle and monitor their very own land.

Some landowners have since taken steps to cease unlawful logging on their land, aided by technical coaching. As well as, TCA has launched new livelihood alternatives, comparable to elevating chickens or rising rice and vanilla, in order that communities not depend on looking endangered forest wildlife.

To make sure this strategy is working, TCA and the communities monitor the variety of tree kangaroos within the space. This offers an perception into the situation of the forest, in addition to forest cowl and forest useful resource use. This info has since supported land-use planning choices in addition to informing the nation’s forest insurance policies.

The Philippines

The Philippines is taken into account a biodiversity hotspot because of the abundance of wildlife discovered within the nation, together with over 641 fowl species. Their future hangs within the steadiness, nevertheless, because the nation’s fee of tropical deforestation is likely one of the highest on the planet on account of logging, mining and land conversion pushed by poverty.

Decided to show issues round, the Haribon Basis (BirdLife within the Philippines) has remodeled native folks into proactive forest defenders, or ‘bantay gubat’, who now lead forest conservation efforts. These forest defenders acquired coaching on subjects from studying and writing, monetary administration and environmental regulation to natural farming and reforestation methods. The KaPatrol cellular app launched by Haribon in 2021 allows bantay gubat and different residents to report threats to the forests, enhancing communication between native folks and wildlife authorities.

“Considered one of Haribon’s proudest achievements from this mission is safely and efficiently integrating fashionable conservation practices with the indigenous tribes’ data and rituals, regardless of being restricted by a number of components comparable to distinction in cultures, disparity in academic attainments, and the restrictions in all elements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” mentioned Mita Chabeli Pangan, on behalf of Haribon’s Forest Governance Challenge staff.

“From being unable to learn or write, the tribal communities Haribon has labored with now have lively roles in forest governance initiatives with their respective native authorities items, are already utilizing the newest expertise for monitoring, safety and communication, and are managing biodiversity-friendly companies – all whereas nonetheless retaining the sustainable traditions they inherited from their ancestors.”

Seeking to the long run

Because the Forest Governance Challenge reaches its finish, the outcomes from the 5 years of laborious work throughout these 4 international locations is additional proof that native individuals are the reply to efficient, impactful forest conservation. The mission could also be over, however the work is way from completed – native communities are in it for the lengthy haul, to guard their forests for generations to come back.

To search out out extra, learn our Challenge Influence Report right here or the coverage briefs for Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

Click on right here to discover the extent of forest loss throughout every of the 4 international locations, the drivers of change, and the worth of fine governance in addressing these challenges.


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