Safeguarding the Indonesian ecosystem with the help of female empowerment

For one hundred years, BirdLife has been working to protect endangered environments. Together with Pirelli and BMW, it is finding a way to engage with the indigenous community and give them a central role, starting with the women

Home Life Sustainability Safeguarding the Indonesian ecosystem with the help of female empowerment

In English, Hutan Harapan means Forest of Hope. It is no coincidence that six months ago Pirelli, together with BMW and the NGO BirdLife, began a three-year program to improve indigenous livelihoods, protect the biodiversity in tropical forests and invest in the sustainable production of natural rubber, in line with the objectives of the Global Platform of Sustainable Natural Rubber.

The main goal is to safeguard the precious Indonesian ecosystem which will in turn ensure the livelihoods of the indigenous community live in and depend on the forest. Moreover the initiative will protect the habitats of  wildlife in danger of extinction. The project from Pirelli, BMW and BirdLife, an organisation that this year is celebrating one hundred years of activity in environmental protection, will also focus specifically on  improving conditions for the women living and working in the forest of Hutan Harapan.

To ensure a future for the tropical forest, which is threatened by intensive exploitation (especially due to the production of palm oil), it is essential to offer a central role to indigenous women who can play a role in advancing the protection of the local environment while supporting the local community development. This is the aim of Pirelli and its partners, who want to help the women develop new skills and open up new opportunities for education and work in order to provide them with prominent positions in the village institutions.

As Bi Teguh, an activist living in the tropical forest who belongs to the indigenous group of Batin Sembilan, said, "the more forest areas that are burned and destroyed, the more difficult life becomes for us. We need the forest to collect resin, rattan palm, vegetables and, to fish. If the forest disappears, where else can we live?"

Bi Teguh is  active in projects for female empowerment in the area and the program's promoters believe we need more women like her – capable of becoming leaders in the protection and development of Hutan Harapan. The program seeks to tackle topics such as leadership, the climate crisis and social inclusion, providing new opportunities above all to young women.

The program begins with sharing common experiences and building awareness of the fact that women can also play an important role in preserving the forest and the community, before providing participants with the skills and knowledge necessary in decision-making. It also ensures an improvement in the income and food security of households (beginning with already-active projects such as the creation of home gardens).

The female empowerment projects in the Hutan Harapan forest will involve 60 women and 20 younger girls, guided by a team of experts. There are also open meetings between all the women of the community to discuss health, hygiene and social life. The goal is to increase the importance of women in the decision-making processes of their community and their role in the protection of biodiversity (with important positions in ecotourism and environmental protection), in order to improve forest management, productivity and people's lives as a whole.