Solarrific Gives Back: To Indonesia’s “Friends of the National Park Foundation”

Occasionally, due to the nature of our products, we at Solarrific are approached by nonprofit groups seeking assistance with their philanthropic efforts in remote areas throughout the world.

And while we are not always in a position to do so, we are delighted when we have the means to provide support to groups which are striving to achieve social good and better the world as they know it.

Akane and FNPF's lead forester
Akane and Pak Basuki, FNPF’s lead forester

Late last year, we were approached by Dr. Akane Nishimura with one such request.

Nishimura works with a small Indonesian non-profit called Friends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF), and wrote us in November 2014 with a request for help in fulfilling one of the group’s needs: solar flashlights.

According to Nishimura, FNPF has a thriving reforestation and orangutan habitat restoration project in Borneo, Indonesia. They also promote conservation and eco-tourism in Borneo’s Tanjung Puting National Park, which is home to one of the world’s largest remaining orangutan populations. Unfortunately, their project, the forests and orangutans are being increasingly threatened by forest fires and agricultural development.

Akane stands with Pak Rasid and Pak Ledan in front of a native tree planted in 2007 as part of her dissertation research
Akane stands with Pak Rasid and Pak Ledan in front of a native tree planted in 2007 as part of her dissertation research

“I did my PhD research with FNPF, and I have witnessed their struggles firsthand,” says Nishimura. “I have seen anthropogenic fires burn thousands of acres of rainforest while the government was unable or unwilling to help; I have seen bulldozers clearing land inside of park borders; and I have seen maimed orangutans that were caught searching for food in palm oil plantations. I have also witnessed the bravery and tenacity of the local people: they fight fires with minimal equipment, and they sleep on bare floors in remote wooden huts for weeks on end to plant trees and to prevent illegal logging and hunting.  In Indonesia, the task of conserving nature, increasing awareness, and promoting responsible use often falls to NGOs like FNPF.”

Because the FNPF staff live and work in such a remote area, they don’t have access to consistent electricity or quality outdoor gear. Therefore, Solarrific’s in-kind donation of   two dozen L2026 flashlights was intended to offer convenience and assistance while staff members engaged in conservation activities.

Upon her return in January 2015, Nishimura graciously provided an update regarding her work and how our products were useful during her time in Borneo, as well as photos of the products in use. Here is her update.

“Friends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF) is a small Indonesian NGO that has successfully pioneered reforestation and orangutan, bird, and turtle conservation projects throughout Indonesia.

feeding ex-captive orangutans
feeding ex-captive orangutans

I had the good fortune of doing my dissertation research in conjunction with FNPF’s reforestation project in Tanjung Puting National Park (TPNP), which is home to one of the world’s largest remaining orangutan populations.

Although it is a national park, TPNP and its flora and fauna are under constant threat from palm oil plantations, gold and mineral mining, slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging, poaching, and droughts and forest fires exacerbated by El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. Environmental policies are weak and rarely enforced, so the work of local NGOs like FNPF has been crucial to conservation and restoration activities in and around TPNP.

FNPF staff and local farmers with their Solarrific flashlights, at Padang Sembilan
FNPF staff and local farmers with their Solarrific flashlights, at Padang Sembilan

This past December, I traveled to TPNP and was able to deliver solar/hand-crank waterproof LED flashlights that were very generously donated by Solarrific. The FNPF staff was very appreciative as they don’t have access to the conveniences of modern living and can’t afford quality equipment. These flashlights are extremely useful, as the sun sets early in the tropics and there is no electricity! As an added bonus, during the rainy season, they will be able to charge the lights with the hand cranks.

an eco-tourist plants a native tree seedling at Pesalat

I distributed the flashlights to FNPF staff at three different locations: Pesalat,
Jerumbun, and Padang Sembilan. Pesalat was originally lowland tropical rainforest with some peat swamp forest. Since the influx of migrant families from other parts of Indonesia in the 1940s, Pesalat has been used for agricultural and hunting activities. Despite the establishment of the national park, illegal burning and hunting continued in this area until 2003 when FNPF began reforestation activities. Since then, invasive species and anthropogenic and ENSO-related fires have been a problem, but FNPF has been successful in excluding fire and has planted over 100 hectares of formerly forested areas with native tree species. Pesalat is now used as a reforestation showcase site for visiting eco-tourists.

Padang Sembilan is a 500-ha agricultural area that has been poorly managed. Although it is located within the park boundaries, the government has basically turned a blind eye. During the dry season, fires from slashing and burning in this area often jump to other parts of the park. Recently, FNPF has partnered with the local farmers to institute best management

native seedling nursery at Padang Sembilan
native seedling nursery at Padang Sembilan

practices and more sustainable farming methods. They have established a native tree seedling nursery and are educating locals about the environmental and economic benefits of agroforestry and mixed farming.

Jerumbun is located just outside the park borders, but the area serves as a buffer zone and is being threatened by palm oil, mining and fires. FNPF staff have pooled their meager savings to buy property there with the hopes of establishing an education center.  FNPF’s site is flanked by a new palm oil plantation and an abandoned gold mine that has become a sandy wasteland. In October

new compost at Jerumbun
new compost at Jerumbun

2014, their site was also threatened by anthropogenic fires. FNPF is currently building a more permanent post and is experimenting with new agroforestry methods for their education center.

Solarrific’s donation will be a boon to all these activities and will make the lives of the FNPF staff a little easier. On behalf of FNPF, thank you very much for your generosity!”


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