The BMW Group, Pirelli and BirdLife protect the Indonesian ecosystem, strengthening the role of indigenous women in the process. Empowerment projects inspire these women and help to preserve their living environment.
Hutan Harapan means Forest of Hope. The future of Indonesia’s tropical forest needs more than hope alone, though. It needs women like Bi Teguh, who work day in, day out to protect species and preserve the rainforest on Sumatra, because it is threatened by intensive exploitation: in particular for palm oil production.
“The more forest areas are burnt and destroyed, the more difficult life becomes for us. We need the forest to collect resin, rattan palms and vegetables, and to fish. If the forest disappears, where on earth will we live?” asks activist Bi Teguh, who belongs to the indigenous Batin Sembilan group and is proud to call the rainforest home.
That is why six months ago, the BMW Group, together with Pirelli and the BirdLife NGO, launched a three-year programme to improve the living conditions of the indigenous people, to protect biodiversity in the tropical forests and to invest in the sustainable production of natural rubber. It pursues the goals of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR).
It focuses on protecting the precious Indonesian ecosystem and securing the livelihood of the indigenous people who live in and depend on the forests. The joint project is now concentrating on improving the living conditions of women who live and work in the Hutan Harapan forest. The local women play a central role in the rainforest’s future: they work locally to protect the environment and at the same time support the development of the local community. The BMW Group, Pirelli and BirdLife all see it as important that these women are able to develop new skills – that new educational and work opportunities are opened up for them so that they can take a prominent position in the village institutions.
According to the programme’s initiators, there is a need for more women like Bi Teguh, who are in a position to work for the protection and development of Hutan Harapan. The programme will therefore also address issues such as leadership skills, the climate crisis and social inclusion. Young women in particular will be introduced to new opportunities.
The programme starts with sharing common experiences and raising awareness of the fact that women can play a key role in community and forest conservation. The next step is to provide participants with the skills and knowledge they need to make decisions. The programme also ensures that household income and food security is improved, starting from projects that are already active such as establishing home gardens.
The women’s empowerment projects in the Hutan Harapan forest involve 60 women and 20 girls, supervised by a team of experts. The women also hold open meetings within the community to discuss health, hygiene and social life. The aim is to strengthen women’s profiles in the decision-making processes of their community and their role in protecting biodiversity with a view to important positions in ecotourism and environmental protection. These measures all combine to improve forest management, productivity and people’s lives as a whole.