More than three years ago, the Gunung Palung community came to ASRI with a radical idea. Why not have an advocate, drawn from the community leaders in each village around the park that could work with loggers one-on-one to find alternative livelihood activities and sources of income? What emerged was the Forest Guardian program. In conjunction with the village authorities, ASRI chose 30 men (one in each village) who have forest knowledge and are well respected in their community to be sahuts or Forest Guardians. The sahuts have been crucial to reducing logging in the national park. In addition to working with ASRI and local loggers, they have acted as a group to advocate for greater enforcement from the police and function as critical environmental educators among their friends and neighbors. 

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Guest blog by Art Blundell

Spectacular coral, one of many at Raja Ampat. Photo by Kari Malen 2013.

Spectacular coral, one of many at Raja Ampat. Photo by Kari Malen 2013.

According to mythology, long ago a woman found seven eggs. They hatched into a ghost, a woman, a stone, and four kings—one for each of the four large islands in the archipelago off the northwest tip of New Guinea.  And so the vast archipelago (about the size of New Hampshire & Vermont combined) came to be known as Raja Ampat, or the Four Kings. The area is now the largest marine park in Indonesia, the crown jewel of the world’s coral reefs.

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Dear Friends,

I want to send you some love medicine. I want to share with you some of the amazing healing that has been happening in Borneo over the last five years.

I am stunned by the changes we've accomplished with your help.

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For the one year anniversary of the Forest Guardian program, Hotlin Ompusunggu, DDS, co-founder of ASRI, talks about its inception. Based on the core values and philosophy of HIH and ASRI - that community be at the center, involved in and own the solutions of change – Forest Guardians have inspired a 45% increase in villages that have totally stopped logging. Livelihoods and the fate of the Gunung Palung National Park, home to 2500 orangutans, are at stake. You can help by supporting a Forest Guardian for only $50 per month!

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