In recent years, the development of large-scale agriculture in landscapes has increased pressure on available land and water resources. The impacts of irresponsible land development are aggravated by the effects of climate change and unsustainable agricultural practices. 

The Earthqualizer landscape team partners with local governments, NGOs, and growers to create sustainable and community-centric solutions to the issue of landscape management issues.

How do we solve this?

We strongly believe in the collaborative potential of the private sector, communities, and (local and regional) government. This is why, we design and implement programmes based around a co-management approach, to deliver greater social, economic, and environmental values within a landscape.

In practice, this collaboration is channeled into three major areas where we can make a difference to environmental and social conditions:

  • Landscape

  • Social forestry scheme

  • Community business unit

We actively support the local government in developing spatial plans that balance private and public interests, while also implementing the Government of Indonesia’s initiatives to give communities more secure access to lands, such as the Social Forestry (Perhutanan Sosial) and Agrarian Reform (TORA) programmes.  We facilitate the communities in developing the potential of existing commodities by encouraging community business groups and collaborating with the private sector to gain market access opportunities. We also support initiatives through technical assessment (HCV - HCS mosaics), along with wildlife corridor design and management.

Landscapes

The landscape approach combines tradeoffs between spatial planning and natural resource management, while also taking local livelihoods. By using this approach, we seek to create landscapes capable of sustainable development that benefit local communities, as well as the public and private sectors.

Multi-stakeholder collaboration

Sustainable development is inseparable from the role of various stakeholders in a landscape, who often maintain a range of interests. Our work focuses on connecting buyers, companies, and communities which facilitates the protection of existing ecosystems, restoration of ecosystem services, a reduction in social exploitation, and the development of sustainable commodities in a collaborative landscape.

Land use transformation

Characteristics of land use can be a major determinant of landscape change dynamics. The oil palm industry is one of the drivers of significant landscape change in Asian countries such as Indonesia. Economic and business aspects of land use in tropical forest areas are dominant and driven by the need for development, particularly in Indonesia.

Currently, the need for sustainable business continues to be echoed by parties in the international world, especially in the palm oil sector. It also concerns all parties engaged in this industry. We will continue to drive the transformation towards responsible land use and to encourage industry players' compliance. This compliance involves a commitment to international market demands as well as the support for local community needs and existing biodiversity. These elements are the initial milestones for the industry transformation in line with the needs of the natural environment.

Policy budget and advocacy

Based on our analyses in several priority intervention districts, many companies are yet to have land-use rights which results in shortfalls from land and building tax (PBB) in the plantation sector.

This situation is due to weaknesses in control and oversight, as well as oil palm plantation business actors' non-compliance with statutory regulations. We see this problem as an opportunity to grow state and regional revenue from the plantation sector, by taking the following steps:

  • Preparing spatial analyses of embedded oil palm with potential tax revenues, such as for duty on the acquisition of land and building rights (BPHTB) and PBB tax;

  • Developing system for integrating palm oil data with taxation data;

  • Developing vision and agendas together with local governments to evaluate and synchronize the data and encourage business actor compliance with applicable regulations and NDPE policies.

We combine theoretical know-how with a hands-on, result-oriented approach. Together with our partners, we can help develop projects that produce concrete results. We take two pathways towards more sustainable landscape management:

  1. The in-situ approach supports CSR efforts for social forestry in plantation areas. This approach is most cost-effective because the company is the primary implementing party. 

  2. The ex-situ approach invites a company to sponsor our social forestry support team to support social forestry in other locations. This hands-off approach allows for greater flexibility in the strategic identification of sites.

Social forestry schemes

Communities’ inability to access land legally results in a lack of opportunities for sufficient earnings and good agricultural management. The illegal status of temporarily controlled land inside forest estate also results in outsiders having little support to provide adequate assistance, because doing so can be in contravention of rules on forestry management. Impacts of communities’ lack of environmental management knowledge and awareness include illegal logging, illegal hunting, forest, and land fires, and forest degradation, which indirectly threaten the security of community assets.

Since 2018, we have been involved in a national program to facilitate communities in securing access to manage forests around their villages. We support a landscape approach in encouraging management access through the Perhutanan Sosial social forestry program by involving stakeholders, especially companies committed to accelerating legalization and supporting communities to play an active role in managing areas of the state forest estate. Our support in developing the social forestry program includes:

  • Co-management

    Earthqualizer encourages co-management in the long-term participatory management of forest estate areas, which is realized with 30-year commitments.

  • Wildlife corridors

    We map potential wildlife corridors and encourage our partners and other private sector actors to connect habitats via green corridors to facilitate wildlife migration and breeding.

  • Reforestation

    We encourage our partners to commit to supporting restoration on the ground to rehabilitate existing forest estates for environmental conservation and for surrounding communities.

  • Research and education

    We conduct comprehensive research at the landscape level by involving partners and experts in securing reliable and detailed data. We also provide capacity building for the stakeholders involved, particularly communities, to ensure the best natural resource management practices.

  • Infrastructure

    We support the development of social forestry schemes and business units by facilitating the provision of necessary infrastructure. We provide support to village forest management institutions to help them operate at an optimum level and technological support for establishing effective business units for developing the potential of existing commodities.

    Through a combination of funding, expertise, and access to resources, Earthqualizer is helping smallholders to comply with legality and sustainability requirements. We work with smallholders at the village level and making use of existing local government structures. We also help villagers diversify their incomes through products and commodities other than oil palm.

Community business units

To develop environmentally-friendly business models, we combine economic development and conservation to provide benefits to vulnerable groups in communities. We collaborate with stakeholders to improve entrepreneurial skills in commodity development, forest utilization, and product diversification. Considerations in building businesses include:

  • Natural products

    The development of natural commodities such as non-timber forest products already being harvested or commodities already being cultivated can provide opportunities for communities living around forests to increase earnings and expand employment opportunities.

  • Product sustainability

    We encourage diversification of village flagship commodities and access to local and regional markets and develop innovations in the use of biodegradable packaging for village-produced products. We strive to ensure the use of natural and environmentally friendly resources.

  • Marketing and trading

    We help communities by providing training in local-level and online marketing and encourage private sector operators with experience in setting up businesses to become involved in educating communities and helping them secure market access. We will initiate the development of an online platform as part of a strategy for marketing community products in domestic and international markets.

  • Traceability

    Building market trust in the products produced is essential for long-term business sustainability. Traceability needs to consider the origins of raw materials in products and the social and ecological aspects of their production. We encourage transparency in traceability to ensure consumers can trust the products they are buying.

The roles of stakeholders

Our partners and stakeholders play essential roles in landscape recovery. Only by approaching the issue from multiple perspectives, leveraging resources, and tapping into the local experience can hope to make a lasting difference.

Brands

Growers

Trades/refiners

Communities

Government

NGO

Finance Institution

Implementation of recovery plan in partnership with stakeholders

Investment in finance, technology, and marketing, locally and internationally

Implementation of NDPE reflected at plantation

Catalysation collaborating between stakeholders

Provide push for government to regulate sustainability aspectes in the palm oil sector

Marketing of Recovery Plan and creating positive stories

Development of enabling regulations and policies, including endorce implementation of policies

Our Landscape Interventions

Collaborating with stakeholders, we support sustainable landscape management by implementing the Production-Protection-Inclusion (PPI) schemes in the following landscapes:

We are targeting opportunities for developing landscape-based programmes with ecological and economic recovery models, and have identified several potential interventions based on following aspects:

  1. Potential areas for social forestry

  2. Potential commodities

  3. Extent of private sector recovery obligations

  4. Company commitment to building collaboration and supporting the sustainable business sector

  5. Positive commitment from local stakeholders

  6. Community willingness to effect change.

  7. Market access opportunities for commodities.

Existing programmes can be replicated or scaled up through communication and engagement and by mapping the roles of stakeholders with interests in the landscapes.

Success Stories

Working in partnership with companies and donors, Earthqualizer is supporting communities in various landscapes through recovery programmes that combine:

  • Social forestry support

  • Livelihood diversification

  • Carbon inventory

  • Reforestation and peat rewetting 

Through collaborative action, our aim is to achieve forest management rights for local people, balancing environmental protection with social justice. We ultimately want a fairer, more sustainable deal for people and nature. Here is a closer look at some success stories so far: