A decade ago the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry (MoF) worked with a consortium of conservation organisations (Burung Indonesia, the RSPB and BirdLife International) to find mechanisms to prevent further forest degradation and to encourage reforestation and carbon storage. The resulting Harapan Rainforest Initiative (the Harapan Initiative) was the first program to receive an Ecosystem Restoration Concession (ERC) in Indonesia, and in fact globally. The 98,555 ha site under the ERC has since pioneered the way for ecosystem restoration of logged forests.
The Harapan rainforest has been selectively logged since 1969, and is now effectively a “rainforest island” of mostly secondary forest surrounded by oil palm and active industrial forest plantation concessions and represents around 30% of the remaining dry lowland rainforest in Sumatra. The ERC requires management of the area for protection, restoration and sustainable use of forest resources, and provide the rights to benefits from environmental services and non-timber forest products (NTFPs). The ERC area supports around 200 families from the Batin Sembilan (SAD) indigenous people, who are forest dwellers and depend on it for their livelihoods and food security. The Harapan Initiative provides land, housing, schooling and medical assistance as well as job opportunities for these communities. The ERC areas also support a wealth of biodiversity, including critically endangered Sumatran tigers and Sumatran elephants as well as agile gibbons, clouded leopard, Malayan tapir and sun bears. TierraMar was commissioned to undertake an End of Project Evaluation for this ground breaking and globally significant project. We worked with a wide range of government, non-government and community stakeholders to provide an objective assessment of achievement and the efficiency and effectiveness of project implementation. We also identified lessons in project design, implementation and management and presented a range of recommendations to strengthen the project into the future.