Catalyzing Community-led Conservation to Reduce Deforestation and Biodiversity Loss through an Integrated Ecosystem Approach – West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Yayasan Planet Indonesia
Published: 30 September 2021
Last edited: 30 September 2021
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At Yayasan Planet Indonesia we are dedicated to conserving Earth's at-risk ecosystems. In Indonesia, we have pioneered a model of community-based conservation through our ‘Conservation Cooperative’ model that addresses the underlying drivers causing climate change vulnerability in our partner communities. We create village-led partnerships to support ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) by instituting community governance structures (Conservation Cooperatives) that enable access to financial and non-financial services that catalyze community-based adaptation. Using our award-winning approach, we establish ‘Conservation Cooperatives’ (CC) to develop pathways for vulnerable rural communities to overcome the barriers to climate change adaptation. Simultaneously our CC approach builds EbA by securing the well-being benefits (e.g. livelihood, health) that humans derive from ecosystem services (e.g. forests, land, fisheries, etc.), and facilitates how these benefits can be utilized to promote climate change adaptation.


Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Coastal and marine spatial management
Fisheries and aquaculture
Forest Management
Gender mainstreaming
Indigenous people
Local actors
Poaching and environmental crime
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Sustainable livelihoods
Terrestrial spatial planning
Traditional knowledge
Erratic rainfall
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Sea level rise
Ecosystem loss
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Physical resource extraction
Lack of technical capacity
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 16 – Peace, justice and strong institutions
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia | Gunung Niut Nature Reserve, Gunung Naning Protection Forests, Kubu Raya Mangrove Forests
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Rural communities living in tandem with West Kalimantan ecosystems often suffer from socio-economic insecurities due to unmet social and financial needs (Social and Economic Challenge). These barriers drive them to exploit surrounding natural resources beyond their subsistence needs, reducing the resilience of the very ecosystems (Environmental Challenge) that act as their lifeline. As a result, the goods and services these ecosystems provide to the rural communities are at risk of collapsing, thereby removing the lifeline that underpins local livelihoods and well-being. As rural communities deplete their surrounding natural resources, it creates a positive feedback loop deepening their inability to meet basic and financial needs leading to further resource extraction culminating in spiraling poverty. Such degenerative exploitation of natural resources traps communities into a vicious cycle of environmental injustice and reduces the integrity of surrounding natural ecosystems that they depend on


Our beneficiaires include Dayak communities inhabiting Gunung Niut and Gunung Naning sites, and coastal non-Dayak fishing communities inhabiting our project sites in Kubu Raya Mangrove Forests

How do the building blocks interact?

Before establishing village-level partnerships through which we develop these ‘building blocks’, we engage in radical listening through community hearings and focus group discussions. These hearings and discussions enable us to understand specific community needs, challenges, and what communities think are solutions to their challenges. We use this information to build and match our activities to fit the needs and solutions put forth by local communities. Thus we have moved away from a ‘community-based’ approach to a ‘community-led’ approach, highlighting our emphasis on ownership of initiatives at the local level.

Once communities agree to participate in program activities, we create a village level ‘conservation agreement’ that highlights the key aspects of our partnership with the village. As member’s join their cooperative they receive access to a variety of services provided under each building block that addresses a different aspect of community members' needs. 

While each building block does not directly interact or depend on each other, all of them together are aimed at addressing the underlying factors that cause the vulnerabilities faced by community members in our partner villages. 


  • Environmental

Deforestation rates dropped by 56% surrounding our partner villages in comparison to 2 years prior to our program implementation in the Gunung Niut Nature Reserve, with 77% of the tree cover loss taking place outside of our partnership areas. In our coastal site, mangrove forests were lost at a rate of 56.7 ha/year before the start of the project (2014 to 2017), which reduced to 23 ha/year three years after project implementation began (2018 to 2020). 


  • Social

Our Healthy Family Initiative and Literacy Programs directly address gaps in social services in our partner communities. Till date, we have trained 157 local women as health ambassadors in their communities who conduct household visits and create access to public health information and services for women and girls in their communities. Since 2017, out of a total of 559 participants in our literacy program, 264 participants have completed the course of which 251 have passed the National Exam (a 95% pass rate) and received a nationally recognized certificate that will enable them to seek formal employment opportunities.


  • Economic

As of June 2021, there was a total of USD$ 99,762 in assets in our Village Savings and Loans program across 21 Conservation Cooperatives in all 3 of our project sites. A total of USD$ 45,859 had been taken out in loans by CC members during the project period with a >90% loan repayment rate.


Pak Jaka has been a fisherman for over 20 years but this is his first time fishing for crabs in Sungai Nibung after the most recent 3-month river closure. In the region of Kubu Raya, the villagers with the support of Yayasan Planet Indonesia have set up a temporary closure system to mitigate fish stock depletion as part of a wider conservation mission. 

These temporary closures work by periodically banning fishing and usage of an area during set months to allow the population to restore itself and mature. This is to ensure natural resources can be relied upon for generations to come while also engaging communities in conservation.

The day the rivers opened for fishing again, Pak Jaka rose with the sun to set out 50 crab traps in the river of Nibung. As he pulls his first cage out of the water, it’s a miss. The second cage, however, hauls a nice big crab out of the water and he’s face breaks out into a smile. Prior to Planet Indonesia’s partnership with the village, unrestricted fishing had crushed crab and shrimp populations, getting smaller with each harvest. Pak Jaka says the crabs and income are noticeably better in the regions that practice these temporary fishing closures. This is the third periodic closure implemented in the village of Sungai Nibung.

Contributed by

Abrar Ahmad Yayasan Planet Indonesia