Last year, our partner Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) piloted a new Chainsaw Buyback Entrepreneurship program. This micro-enterprise development program was launched to target the remaining ±180 loggers living around Gunung Palung National Park and help them find an alternative, sustainable income for their families. ASRI selected 10 individuals who already had side jobs that had the potential to scale-up and held a 5-day training with entrepreneurship experts from Jogjakarta, which included developing business plans and distribution of start-up funds. The loggers' wives were also required to attend the training in order to foster accountability and have joint buy-in for these new enterprises.
The results from the pilot were encouraging: after just a few months, 60% of the participants stopped logging entirely while 40% were logging occasionally while they waited for the businesses to become profitable.
Now almost a year later, ASRI has made the program official with an added touch: to participate in the program, loggers must sell their chainsaws to ASRI. The money from selling their chainsaws serves as part of the start-up costs for starting their own businesses. This month, ASRI signed on their first participants, Herwandi and his wife Darus Sita.
Almost 10 years after ASRI was founded, the number of loggers living outside of Gunung Palung National Park is down to ±180*, a significant decline from an estimated 1,300+ in 2007. At this point, the ASRI staff knows each of the remaining loggers personally and is working to find solutions that are tailored to each logger’s needs.