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Rainforests AND Communities

Health In Harmony partners with communities living near protected rainforests that are critical to the climate and biodiversity, so they can live in balance with the natural environment. Because programs are exclusively designed by communities, they are unique to each rainforest, but often related to healthcare, livelihoods, education, and reforestation.

Gunung Palung National Park

Indonesia

Since 2007, Health In Harmony has partnered with Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) and communities near Gunung Palung National Park to protect and regenerate this 108,000 hectare rainforest. A ten-year analysis by Stanford University and published by PNAS shows the programs at our flagship site have reduced logging, increased wellbeing, regenerated rainforest, and demonstrated that solutions exist to improve both the health of people and the planet simultaneously. 

Lack of access to healthcare is a major driver of ecosystem destruction in Indonesian Borneo, so Health In Harmony co-founded the ASRI Medical Center, which hires local medical professionals to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare including, but not limited to, primary care, maternal and infant care, dentistry, vision, vaccinations, and counseling. Patients pay for services with cash, seedlings, handicrafts, organic manure, and more to ensure care is always accessible. Communities also receive discounts of up to 70% when they commit to stop logging in the National Park. 

In addition to healthcare services, communities benefit from economic development programs like Chainsaw Buyback, which provides capital and training to loggers so they can start small businesses. Our two reforestation sites provide another opportunity for community members to transition to a sustainable livelihood, particularly women who often lead our reforestation teams.

You can learn more about our successful programs in Gunung Palung National Park on our blog: Forest Guardians, Goats for Widows, Organic Farming, Kitchen Gardens, ASRI Teens, ASRI Kids, and more. 

Photo: Stephanie Gee

Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park

Indonesia

In 2018, Health In Harmony and ASRI launched a second site near Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park. This park is a critical release site for rehabilitated orangutans and is nearly twice the size of Gunung Palung National Park at 234,000 hectares, though it faces similar threats such as logging, hunting, and slash-and-burn agriculture. After Radical Listening sessions, we initiated communities’ designs for reliable, affordable healthcare by hiring midwives and launching mobile clinic services and also provided training in organic farming.

Photo: Stephanie Gee

Manombo Forest

Madagascar

In 2019, we launched programs in the Manombo Forest, including the Manombo Special Reserve, a 5,800 hectare protected area on Madagascar’s southeastern coast. The reserve is home to nine species of lemur, all of which are endemic to Madagascar and threatened by extinction. Our programs address challenges such as affordable healthcare, resilient and adaptable farming techniques, and, most urgently, hunger, with community-designed solutions. When addressed together, both communities and this incredibly unique ecosystem can thrive.

Photo: Kelsey Hartman

Xingu River Basin

brazil

In 2020, we launched programs to protect a vital portion of the Amazon rainforest – 8.5 million hectares of the Xingu River Basin. The Xingu is particularly important because the rain it generates feeds the entire Amazon, influencing global weather patterns and the climate. Lack of access to healthcare is forcing Traditional and Indigenous communities to desert their ancestral lands for cities where health facilities exist. When they travel long distances – or leave permanently – to access healthcare, their land is often overtaken by large-scale cattle ranching or mining operations. Our programs address communities’ displacement and other needs to prevent rainforest destruction.

Photo: Neil Palmer

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