Bridging the gap among landscapes, communities and stakeholders

Belantara Foundation
Belantara Foundation working with local farmers in Jambi province to restore, preserve and protect the Indonesian landscape.

This article is sponsored by Belantara Foundation.

Ask any farmer — ecosystems don’t recognize land agreements. Landscapes cross property boundaries. Water does not stop flowing, trees do not stop growing and animals do not stop roaming based on borders set by land contracts.

Organizations with supply chains that span the globe are charged with identifying and managing environmental risks on a local level while meeting the demands of all stakeholders such as business, governmental and community partners. Companies increasingly see the business value in setting sustainability goals and maintaining an efficient supply chain, but it can be challenging to begin and navigate the process. Each geographic location where a company resides has its own landscape and unique environment to be considered in operational planning.

In our modern world where competing entities implement sustainability policies that best suit their own interests, there is a need for a mediator to help build solutions that benefit all stakeholders. By working closely with a third party resource, companies can meet sustainability goals and better serve their communities.

Identifying the challenges

Many companies face challenges when it comes to understanding the priorities and needs of the local communities in which they operate. What goods and services do they require, and what do they provide? How does the production process of the organization impact local citizens?

Consider, for example, paper production in Southeast Asia. Indonesia is an ecologically diverse country with natural resources that benefit the rest of the globe. Indonesia has plentiful peatlands, and peat is essential in promoting natural forest growth and in its ability to absorb carbon. In its natural state, peat functions as a sponge, keeping moisture in the ground while nourishing plant life and trees, which is essential in the rainforests of Indonesia. The clearing of peatlands for industrial and other purposes has had an environmental and social impact. In the province of Jambi, a lack of farming knowledge, natural resource management training and unsustainable clearing techniques have damaged sensitive peatlands and other ecosystems. As the landscape is restored, local communities require support to improve their standard of living without compromising the environment.

For organizations operating in complex environments such as Indonesia, it is vital to identify the right partner to navigate the ecological demands of the area and help provide the necessary support for the community.

The partnership model

To help bridge connections with local stakeholders and gather the necessary information, companies need to manage operations with better insight. 

As Mark Buckley, Belantara Advisory Board member and founder of One Boat Collaborative, has noted: "Indonesia’s vast natural resources have made it a critical part of the supply chain for most North American companies. Organizations like the Belantara Foundation provide an opportunity for these companies to help protect the Indonesian forests, surrounding area and local communities that are interconnected with the supply chain."

The Belantara Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to protect the Indonesian landscape by establishing local sustainability projects in areas that are set aside for conservation, reforestation and sustainable community development. The Foundation funds programs that conserve and rehabilitate ecosystems, protect endangered species and help local farmers realize sustainable prosperity in Indonesia.

Effective results are achieved when a balance is created. Belantara has established partnerships with Indonesian provincial governments, private sector companies, NGOs and communities. In areas where peat has been degraded, or even lost due to fires, Belantara works to restore the landscape as well as advise community leaders on how to best protect the area. To restore peatlands, Belantara has provided more than 100,000 seedlings (consisting of 13 species) for restoration, covering 6,773 acres of land.

Among other strategies, Belantara collaborates with local partners across five provinces (Jambi, Riau, South Sumatera, West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan) supporting 10 grant areas.

Programs include:

  • Forest restoration via tree planting
  • Forest fire prevention including the construction of 14 wells, four fire towers and 84 canal blocking systems for water management
  • Development of three local libraries to improve community knowledge related to forest management and its impact on livelihoods

Through such partnerships, for-profit organizations and NGOs together can address challenges that affect the earth, local communities, municipalities and companies. By creating this wide-lens approach, companies will find solutions to complex, environmental challenges affecting the landscape.

Belantara is making strides to achieve harmony in Indonesia by funding local projects that teach farmers how to use new technologies, diversify their skills and develop techniques to generate more productivity from their land without compromising nearby forests. Through Belantara and similar organizations, companies can make positive, measurable, long-term impact on ecosystems that are critical for our world’s biodiversity.