Sunandar is secretary of the Farmer Group of Bada Labuhan Ratu 7, a local village that borders Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia. IRF, with our local partner, Indonesian Rhino Initiative (IRI), is working with the farmer group to grow and plant seedlings in the nearby Rawa Kidang restoration site thanks to support from IRF’s donors. This is the second site of the larger Way Kambas restoration project which was initiated to restore critical habitat for rhinos and other wildlife that had been degraded due to human encroachment.
He drew the above truck on the whiteboard used to list all of the plants designated for regeneration in this section of rainforest in Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia. He drew the picture in 2020. “I drew the truck as a wish,” he said. “It was something we needed to help the village and to transport seedlings from the nursery to the restoration area.”
Sunandar did not know at the time that, as part of our community development programs, IRF would ask what other needs the village had. IRI recommended that a truck could help the residents in many ways, including responding to fires in the area, moving people and plants and helping the community get materials to renovation projects designed to improve living conditions for the families.
IRF funded the purchase of this truck for the Farmer’s Group in 2021 and they have put it to good use in many ways, including carrying a variety of plants that have led to the initial successful regeneration of rainforest in the Rawa Kidang area of the park. What was once a degraded grassland is now full of the trees and plants that naturally grow in the Way Kambas ecosystem, and wildlife is already returning to take advantage of the food and shelter now available again.
The number of plants written on the whiteboard have overtaken Sunadar’s original drawing, but he does not want to erase it just yet. “It was a dream come true” he says.
Sunandar is following another dream. He is training to become a guide as part of a Way Kambas National Park program. He is learning the layout of the park, the wildlife, and even to speak English. He already understands the importance of the ecosystem and its value to his neighbors and the world.