Community involvement is key to Health In Harmony’s work. ASRI’s own Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu proposed an innovative program of local accountability and forest guardianship – and won an acclaimed Whitley Award for the idea! In May 2011, ASRI put the Forest Guardians program into practice, adding 30 respected villagers to its staff. The villagers, called Forest Guardians, monitor logging in their communities to help ASRI maintain its incentive system. They also conduct outreach in their communities, bringing loggers around to seeking alternative livelihoods.
The initiative was an immediate success. Since they themselves are locals, each Guardian can speak whatever dialect or language is spoken in the community – the diversity of local tongues is almost as stunning as the diversity of local birds – and had known most of their fellow villagers since birth. In 14 of the 32 park-border communities with which ASRI works, loggers stepped forward. They all asked for help in establishing some form of sustainable livelihood: in some cases organic farming, in others sustainable agroforestry.
Health In Harmony is working to raise funds that will support training for these fourteen communities in whatever combination of organic farming and agroforestry best suits local conditions and needs. Support this remarkable turnaround.