british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2011 - Biodiversity project in Indonesia

 
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Sustainability Report 2011

When we trialled our biodiversity risk and opportunity assessment tool in 2007, our leaf growing operations in Indonesia were among the first to test it out. The assessment identified a high risk to tobacco farming communities’ water supplies on the island of Lombok, where deforestation and land clearance has contributed to declining water flows.

Biodiversity project in IndonesiaSince 2010, a project between our Biodiversity Partner, Fauna & Flora International, our company in Indonesia and local stakeholders, including the University of Mataram, has been addressing these issues. The aim of the project is to define and implement an approach to watershed management, involving different stakeholders in the area, that will enhance the area’s biodiversity, address deforestation, improve livelihoods, support agriculture and promote sustainable water management.

The first phase of the project focused on a small number of local communities, mainly farmers. The project included a diverse range of activities, including training on home gardening techniques; strategic tree planting; improved water storage; and helping women’s groups develop suitable products to sell and access markets directly. These help improve their livelihood options and also aim to reduce the need to degrade forest resources, as well as helping to improve already degraded areas.

Farmers were encouraged to plant trees and helped to understand how this helps protect the water supply. They were also given training on how to give young plants the best start in life. In 2010 and 2011, 132,060 wood trees and 27,910 fruit trees were planted, with a survival rate of 55 per cent for those planted in the middle and downstream area and 76 per cent for those planted upperstream.

Some farmers raised concerns about the trees shading their crops from the sunlight they need. To address this, meetings were held with the farmers to discuss their concerns and find solutions. Practical recommendations were made such as planting species with fewer branches and planting in an east-west direction so as not to block the sun.

A biodiversity survey conducted in 2011 provided important baseline information on the area and multi-stakeholder workshops and seminars have helped raise the profile of the approach to watershed management, which recognises the important role of biodiversity and ecosystems.

A key stakeholder in the project is the local government, which recognises that successful water management requires the collaboration of all stakeholders in the area and that solutions can be found by different sectors working together on this common issue.

Since 2010, a related project has also been run in the area to reduce the use of wood as a fuel by local farmers, which can be another cause of deforestation in the area. Our company in Indonesia recommends and supports the use of coal as a fuel for tobacco curing with its contracted farmers, however, there are still some small instances of native wood being used. To address this, the company is working with a consortium, funded by the Global Sustainable Biomass Fund, to develop and assess the use of candlenut shells as an alternative fuel. This has included helping community groups establish nurseries for planting candlenut, as well as processing plants. The company has also made stocks of candlenut available for its contracted farmers to buy. In addition, farming communities have received training on making bio-ethanol from household waste, which they can use as an alternative fuel to wood for cooking.

Building on the work of both projects to date, in 2012, they will be expanded to work with additional farmers and other stakeholders. This will include facilitating the development of the Government’s watershed plan for Renggung – an important agricultural area in Lombok.

 

WHAT IS A WATERSHED?

A watershed is an ecological system on an area of land in which all the surface water (such as streams, rivers and lakes) and groundwater (water within the ground) drains to the same place.

Watersheds are important because environmental issues such as deforestation can impact the whole area. This can cause loss of biodiversity and impair ecosystem services, negatively affecting water supplies needed for agriculture and the surrounding communities.
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