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Video: Transforming landscapes in Indonesia to become deforestation-free

Posted: Jun 03, 2020 2 minute read SMART 703 views

Deforestation trends in Indonesia are changing. Studies show deforestation from large-scale plantations is declining, but deforestation from small-scale agriculture is on the rise.

Götz Martin, Head of Sustainability Implementation at GAR, discusses this shift, and our contribution to achieving a deforestation-free Indonesia.



The area of deforestation in Indonesia, annually 2001–2016, by driver category. Source: Kemen Austin, Amanda Schwantes, Yaofeng Gu and Prasad Kasibhatla (2019) What causes deforestation in Indonesia?

Deforestation by small farmers is on the rise. Many are poor and need money to survive, and resort to finding plots of land to plant subsistence crops.

Another reason is a lack of knowledge in using land efficiently. Farmers educated in good agricultural practices can get up to seven times more rice with the same amount of land as compared to untrained farmers.

GAR is helping small farmers with both of these challenges, through Participatory Conservation Planning (PCP).


The first step is Participatory Mapping, which helps them understand boundaries and features within their village. Then, public consultations with community groups to determine which parts are for economic development, food security, and conservation.

In setting aside areas for food security, we then teach them how to farm more effectively and organically. We’re running these farming programmes in 50 villages across Sumatra and Kalimantan.


Families can save up to one million Rupiah per month from growing their own food. With the surplus of their produce, they can also earn another 500,000 Rupiah from selling it to other villages.

To date, we have finalised 20 PCP projects in Kalimantan. The communities are setting aside 40,000 hectares of forest for conservation. Local district governments have approved these conservation plans, giving communities ownership over these areas which they didn’t have before.

A breakdown of our suppliers’ conservation areas.

We are also engaging our suppliers on the topic of forest conservation. We have been approaching larger suppliers, those with undeveloped land banks, to conserve rather than develop the land. Thirteen of these have done HCV-HCS assessments and set aside 65,000 hectares for conservation.

The palm oil industry is making progress towards becoming deforestation-free, but we still see tremendous potential for scale, especially through investment from partners. Only by tackling these root causes of deforestation, can we see meaningful transformation in the landscapes of Indonesia.

Learn about our four-year forest protection programme in Central Kalimantan in partnership with Wageningen University here.

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