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Equipping the Sungai Linau community with tools to protect their biosphere

The Sungai Linau Conservation and Livelihood Programme is a landscape initiative covering four villages – Bandar Jaya, Sungai Linau, Tanjung Damai, and Sumber Jaya – located located in Bengkalis District, Siak Kecil Sub-district in Riau and act as a buffer for Giam Siak Kecil Biosphere Reserve. 

The initiative, which commenced in 2021 and is targeted to be completed by the end of 2024, was formed through a collaboration of companies including Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), Cargill, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF), Musim Mas, Nestle, PepsiCo and Yayasan Mitra Insani (YMI). The implementation of the initiative is supported by Proforest, a UK-based NGO that supports companies, and Daemeter, an independent consulting firm promoting sustainable development.

APP is supporting both the conservation and livelihood elements of the initiative. Conservation support covers the implementation of forest protection and monitoring using satellite and fire management. The company also provides the community with training on firefighting and satellite-based monitoring, and the development of infrastructure if necessary. Together with the community, APP is also developing a patrol schedule, reporting system, and forest monitoring framework as part of its knowledge-sharing and in-kind support for the initiative.

The landscape covering the four villages is important as it serves as a buffer for Giam Siak Kecil Biosphere Reserve, which has a vast carbon store where most of villages included in this programme reside on land with deep peat (3-10 m depth) and connection to a larger forest block of 70,000 hectares. The Biosphere Reserve is also home to threatened species such as tigers, elephants, sun bears and is also experiencing high threat of deforestation and fire. 

The joint venture conducted a pilot of HCV-HCS assessment for smallholders and one of the results for this assessment was the participatory action plan for landscape initiative developed with communities in the villages. APP aims to contribute to conservation and positive inclusion of communities by providing support via its expertise and activities conducted by APP in the landscape involves working closely with the communities covered at every stage of the activities and coordination with the coalition of companies as well as the government. 

In the next steps of the program, the community is equipped fire management training and water  system management, which includes hydrology, water management and monitoring, water management infrastructure planning and development assistance, and community implementation and monitoring planning.

With the workplan for conservation and livelihood taking a bottom-up approach, the wider goal is to see the community actively participating in it and develop a sense of belonging to the programme. In addition to this, a key element for the participatory action plan is that it is also integrated with the village work plan, long-term village development plan, and district plan.

The geographic location of the initiative overlaps with APP’s support for the Biosphere Reserve’s protection and is also considered as a productive landscape for palm oil and fiber. Together with the coalition of companies for the Sungai Linau Conservation and Livelihood Programme, the initiative aims to transform the landscape production to increase the environmental and social quality conditions. 

The coalition of companies and wider stakeholders are taking a similar perspective to reduce deforestation, conserve the remaining forest while improving local communities’ livelihood. 

During the development of participatory action plan with community, the discussion identified activities that will support smallholder inclusion, land governance, tenure, respect for local community rights, restoration of degraded forest and areas, and addressing land use issues beyond certification through multi-stakeholder collaboration.

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