ASRI's Forest Guardians are our not-so-secret weapon in combatting rainforest destruction: they are the bridge that connect local villagers to all our programs. Each of the 30 Forest Guardians are respected members of their community, nominated to the post by village leaders and then vetted and trained by ASRI in how to most persuasively approach illegal loggers - many of whom are friends and family of the FG. They monitor deforestation around their homes and spread awareness of all of the ways ASRI assists people who want to make a change, from alternative livelihoods trainings to village-wide healthcare discounts for villages that protect their forests.
In the 3 years since the Forest Guardians began, 6 more villages have gone "green" and stopped logging, and two more villages have signed agreements to work with ASRI to end deforestation - leaving only one last hold-out village bordering the park. Many more villages are on their way to "green" status: one, once notorious for logging, has gone from 24 active loggers to only 2 with the efforts of the Forest Guardians.
This success hasn't gone unnoticed in the region. This Fall, the new head of Gunung Palung National Park met with 20 Forest Guardians to discuss their work. Here are some of ASRI's conservation director Erica Pohnan's highlights from the meeting:
We can't wait to see the undoubtably great things this partnership will do for the rainforests of Gunung Palung and all the people who depend on them!