ASRI facilitates a variety of programs that engage community members in alternative livelihoods that are sustainable and safe. When ASRI was founded, one of the first things the community asked for was training in sustainable farming as an alternative to the traditional practice of slashing and burning. Adhering to the principles of radical listening, ASRI began holding trainings in sustainable farming – a much more effective and environmentally responsible form of farming. The Sustainable Farming program also led to the founding of ASRI’s Goats for Widows, which empowers women and provides the most vulnerable families with an additional source of income, while providing much-needed manure for local farmers.
The ASRI team also manages a Reforestation program, which focuses on restoring two plots of land in Gunung Palung National Park, which have been degraded by illegal logging. Many of the seedlings that are planted in the reforestation sites are from patients who pay for health care services with seedlings at the ASRI Clinic.
The Forest Guardian program designates a locally-selected leader who monitors illegal logging activity on the ground and educates community members one-on-one about alternative livelihoods. The data collected by the Forest Guardians helps inform ASRI’s “green-credit system” which gives community members discounts on health care, if the village has verifiably ceased illegal logging activities.
In addition to these programs, ASRI also manages an after-school education program called ASRI Kids, which aims to educate the next generation about the importance of protecting the rain forest and gives them the opportunity to see orangutans and their habitat in person for the first time.
*Photo credit: Erick Danzer