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How a coffee grower and NGO are fighting deforestation in Sumatra

An alliance between an environmental group and an agribusiness company aims to reduce encroachment by smallholder coffee farmers in the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, one of Sumatra’s last stands of lowland forest.

The Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is one of South Sumatra’s last stands of lowland forest, and home to critically endangered Sumatran tigers and elephants. But the park is under threat from the world’s most popular beverage: coffee.

Some 10 per cent of the Indonesian national park has been lost to coffee farms, with encrouchment from smallholder farmers steadily nibbling away at the 3,140 square kilometre area, which is a major carbon sink as well as biodiversity hotspot.

To tackle this problem, Wildlife Conservation Society, a United States-based green group convened the Bukit Barisan Selatan Sustainable Commodities Partnership (BBS KEKAL), a multi-stakeholder partnership between companies, government, farmers, and civil society to find ways to protect the forest while improving the livelihoods of farmers, who typically have low yields and a lack of access to inputs, training and finance. One of the companies to join the alliance was global food and agri-business firm Olam International, itself a major coffee producer.

To discuss how BBS KEKAL works, and how Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest coffee-growing country, can work towards deforestation-free coffee farming, this podcast featured Moray McLeish the vice president of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Olam, and Leonie Lawrence, technical advisor - sustainable landscapes, at Wildlife Conservation Society.

Tune in as we talk about:

  1. The coffee industry is growing fast; isn’t encroachment into national park areas in Indonesia inevitable?
  2. How the Bukit Barisan Selatan Sustainable Commodities Partnership works
  3. How to convince smallfarmers that forests are worth protecting
  4. How to ensure every stakeholder works together to form an effective partnership
  5. How can businesses and NGOs work better together
  6. Can the model be applied to other commodities?
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