ASRI’s reforestation program educates local communities about the value of the rain forest and provides them opportunities to participate in restoring damaged areas. The work of preparing, planting, and caring for seedlings can be done for pay, improving village livelihoods where one of the few other opportunities for paid work is illegal logging, or villagers can receive credit at the ASRI clinic in exchange for helping replant forest or trading seedlings for the effort. In addition, data collected from the carefully-designed experimental plots are increasing scientific knowledge about the most effective ways to restore Borneo’s rain forests. These data will be published to enable reforestation projects in other areas to benefit from the lessons ASRI learns in the process.
The project began in 2009, when ASRI staff worked with villagers in a devastated area where twelve years ago a logging company illegally cleared over 100 hectares (250 acres) of rain forest. Repeated anthropogenic fires in the cleared area have prevented forest regeneration. In that first year, ASRI and local villagers replanted four hectares of this area with over 14,000 seedlings. In 2010, the partnership continued and another six hectares was replanted with 24,000 seedlings. Overall survivorship in the 2009 plots exceeds 88%, thanks to the careful consideration given to planting techniques. With continued local engagement that involves fire response teams, the plots have been protected from fire.
In an initiative that tied together ASRI’s health care and conservation missions, in 2009 ASRI distributed 4,000 mosquito nets in communities where malaria is most prevalent. Villagers exchanged seedlings or help cutting mulch mats from recycled cardboard in return for the nets.
This is one of several ways we integrate human and environmental health. With greater resources, we can achieve much more:
- A contribution of just $75 will re-green 25 sq. meters (270 sq. feet) of damaged rain forest offsetting around two tons of carbon.
- $375 will offset ten tons of carbon (the lowest level of emissions for a person living in the US) by reforesting 125 sq. meters