Farmers launch a foundation to protect forests, support farmers’ welfare

Jakarta – The Oil Palm Smallholders Union (Serikat Petani Kelapa Sawit/SPKS) officially launch the Farmers For Forest Protection Foundation (4F) in Jakarta. The initiative, developed in collaboration with smallholders and local and indigenous communities from various regions in Indonesia, aims to promote responsible deforestation-free practices that enhance the welfare of small farmers and indigenous groups.

In a written statement, the foundation’s said its formation comes in response to the increasing demand for Indonesian products that are not only free from deforestation but also support forest conservation and sustainability principles. Smallholder farmers in Indonesia require strong support from various stakeholders, including the government and market players, to continue their efforts effectively.

SPKS has been promoting deforestation-free practices in the oil palm sector, conducting field trials in West Kalimantan using the High Carbon Stock and High Conservation Value approach. The valuable input from farmers, indigenous peoples, and academics during this period played a crucial role in establishing 4F. This foundation aims to bridge the aspirations of farmers, indigenous communities, the government, and markets in protecting the forests in Indonesia.

Mansuetus Alsy Hanu, Secretary General of the Palm Oil Farmers Union, emphasised that smallholder oil palm farmers are committed to responsible and deforestation-free oil palm development practices. Despite their efforts, they often face unjust accusations of deforestation. The 4F initiative will help highlight and strengthen the good practices adopted by these farmers, based on local wisdom and complemented by national and global approaches to ensure the sustainable management and protection of remaining forests.

Beatus Pius Onomuo, a traditional leader in Sanggau Regency, said that for the Dayak people protecting customary forests has been done for generations because the forest is the source of their livelihood. If the forest is damaged, the community’s source of livelihood from the forest will disappear, and the continuity of Dayak culture and customs is also at risk of disappearing.

“We hope all parties, especially the government, business actors and the market, can support us through policies, programs, and financing. We hope that our efforts to conserve our forests can generate added value, and our products can be well received in the market to support our efforts to keep our forests sustainable and continue to be maintained from generation to generation,” said Onomuo.

Aron, the District Head of Sekadau District, West Kalimantan, stated that identifying, mapping, and sustainably protecting customary forest areas is vital for supporting sustainable landscape management and forest conservation. He emphasised the importance of collaboration between various parties to expand these conservation efforts and promote the welfare of the people while ensuring that their products are well received in the world market.

The Oil Palm Smallholders Union (SPKS), founded in 2006, has been actively working on the economic, social, and environmental aspects of the oil palm plantation sector. Comprising 72,000 oil palm smallholder members across 18 districts and 8 provinces, SPKS has been committed to the Deforestation-Free approach since 2018. (nsh)

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