A new MoU with the park adds capacity

Exciting news from Sukadana: A new Memorandum of Understanding increases synergy between ASRI and the National Park office

Further solidifying their long and productive relationship, Yayasan Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) and the Gunung Palung National Park Management office (BTNGP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last month formalizing their collaboration. Dr. Hotlin Ompussunggu, ASRI co-founder, and Ir. Dadang Wardhana M.Sc, the current head of BTNGP, signed the agreement on March 26, which outlines plans for more information sharing, greater park access for ASRI’s education and monitoring activities, and increased capacity building.

Hotlin signing the MoU. Photo: Loren BellASRI currently collects a considerable amount of data about the villages surrounding TNGP, especially with regards to logging and other illegal activities. This information is critical for determining which areas fall into ASRI's red/green categories that drive program efforts and the percentage reduction for medical bills, with green villages that do not log receiving the greatest discount. This information is also vital for effective law enforcement by the park. Under the new MoU, ASRI will engage in more collaborative and consistent information sharing, with ASRI providing the park office with findings of ongoing monitoring efforts.

Under the new agreement, the Forest Guardians will work more closely with POLHUT (the park's forest police) both inside and outside of the park.  This increased access within the park will help ASRI better understand the flow of the timber supply and identify ways to help reduce illegal logging through increased education and/or alternative livelihood programs.

The MoU will also increase collaboration between the two parties on developing joint programs to reduce pressure on park resources. BTNGP receives funds to develop alternative livelihood programs in these communities, but is often unable to maintain those initiatives after the seed money has been spent. Through this agreement, ASRI will help to maintain and expand upon the programs started by the park, working closely with the communities to ensure their long-term success.

The conservation and park teams outside the park office. Photo: Loren Bell

In addition, the MoU provides ASRI with greater access to the park for education activities and capacity building. This increased freedom to visit the park will help programs such as ASRI Kids spend more time in the forest--inspiring and educating the next generation of park advocates. The access will also allow ASRI to support other projects operating in the park. For example, plans are being made to provide wilderness medicine training to researchers and field assistants conducting long-term studies of the park's rich biodiversity.

Dr. Hotlin will formally present the MoU to the Ministry of Forestry in Jakarta for final approval and signing by a senior government representative.

Everyone at ASRI was so excited about this development, the entire Conservation Team traveled to Ketapang for the MoU signing a few weeks ago! We believe this is such a positive step in the relationship between ASRI and the National Park and will benefit both sides! Now that we have an official relationship with the national park, will you help our programs such as ASRI Kids and forest monitoring grow into the capacity now available?

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About Kari Malen | View all posts by Kari Malen

Kari is the International Program Development Director at Health In Harmony, and is based in Taos, NM.