In partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and together with leading global and domestic coffee companies, NGOs, local farmer groups and local government representatives, Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung formally signed an agreement declaring our willingness to help explore appropriate ways of addressing coffee-induced deforestation in Indonesia’s Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.

At HRNS we are enthusiastic to commit to tackling deforestation caused by farmers encroaching into a protected area to grow coffee.

Jorge Tiemeier

The park forms part of the “Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra”, a biodiversity hotspot of global importance, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is one of the last remaining habitats of some critically endangered plant and animal species, such as the Sumatran tiger, rhino, elephant and striped rabbit. However, every year more and more undisturbed and contiguous forest is being lost. Encroachment by squatters who clear land to plant coffee inside the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is a major cause for this loss of forest.

However, while many smallholder farmers close to Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park are well aware of both the benefits of the forest and the need to protect it, it is necessity that drives them to clear new land in the forest. Often the land currently being farmed becomes insufficiently productive to provide a suitable living for the growing population of the area, so poor farmers seek new land in the park for coffee cultivation.

As Jorge Tiemeier, a member of HRNS’s executive management team emphasised: „At HRNS we are enthusiastic to commit to tackling deforestation caused by farmers encroaching into a protected area to grow coffee. By working to improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers in the vicinity of the forest, we hope to create sustainable coffee landscapes where there is less pressure to clear new land in a protected forest that is home to some of the world’s rarest animals, including tigers and rhinos.”

Addressing coffee-induced deforestation in the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park arguably requires a holistic approach that combines both enforcement and alternatives for coffee smallholders seeking new land. While HRNS, working in Indonesia through the Bandar Lampung-based coffee company PT Berindo Jaya, cannot enforce legislation to control land clearing in the protected area, we can address one of the underlying causes of deforestation: the need for more productive land outside the park that can to satisfy the livelihood requirements of burgeoning populations.

By working closely with farmers, local communities, local government and environmental stakeholders to enhance the productivity, profitability and ecological sustainability of existing smallholder coffee land, HRNS hopes to foment the creation of more productive agriculture outside the park that can to satisfy the needs of growing populations.

This, so the rational, would foster sustainable alternatives to clearing new land and illegal coffee production inside the park. Ideally, this will lead to a situation where smallholder coffee farming can coexist with an intact forest, and the unique natural heritage of this region for future generations.

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