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Benteng Dewa


Conservation benefit: Support of approximately 14,826 acres of no-take forest reserve

Community benefit: Community health clinic to help children

Date Approved: 05.2009


This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.

Benteng Dewa, on the southwest coast of Flores Island, was established in 2004 and has a population of 1,580 people. It is one of 27 villages located around the 63,738-acre Mbeliling Forest.The villagers are almost exclusively farmers, tending to rice, corn, sweet potatoes, and coconut. The spirit of community volunteer work and traditional law is strong in this village.

The community has agreed to keep protecting 14,826 acres of the forest (including about 618 acres of savannah) as a strict no-take zone for 10 years. Birdlife Indonesia is drafting an agreement with all 27 villages, in their local dialect, that will set out the rules for the protected area.

Seacology will fund a health clinic for the community. The government turned down a request for medical facilities, and the village places health improvement as its highest priority. The village is about a 30-minute drive from the nearest town and is separated by a river located about 1.8 miles from the village, which is impassable by vehicle. Sometimes the villagers cannot access medical care because of this obstacle. Furthermore, malaria is common, and health care for children and pregnant women is severely lacking.

Project Updates

June 2010

Field rep Arnaz Mehta reports that the health clinic was completed and handed over to the government of West Manggarai regency on January 17, 2010. On this occasion the Head of Public Health confirmed that they will place one or two medics at the clinic along with medical supplies. The village has also planted 5,000 mahogany seedlings and 2,500 teak seedlings in the village tree farm area. Volunteer villagers as well as the Department of Forestry conduct patrols every three months in the Mbeliling Forest reserve. During the last patrol in May, no disruptive activities were reported other than several small landslides. The village has also contained their livestock so they do not roam freely around the forest.

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November 2009

Field representative Arnaz Mehta reports that construction on the health clinic to this point has included building the brick walls with concrete reinforcements, door and window frame installation, digging latrines, buying zinc roofing and wood procurement for the roof. Construction of the clinic began a bit later than planned due to the fasting month and Lebaran holiday (most of the builders are Moslem so they could not work full time). The 2nd phase of development activities will be focused on the roof assembly, installation of zinc roofing, ceiling manufacture, installation of windows and doors, installation of ceramic tiles, plastering walls, painting, electrical installation and finally handover to the District Government. The Indonesian Department of Health has provided Seacology with a letter confirming their support for the health clinic in Benteng Dewa and will provide medics and supplies when it is completed. Conservation efforts continue to be encouraged in the form of a village tree farm and regular patrol of the forest. The village tree farm is located outside of the protected area and is focused on multi-use trees that can be used for the construction of houses for food, such as durian trees. This is in anticipation of the villagers not being able to use trees in the protected area for at least 10 years. The village will plant 2,500 seedlings of local plants and more are planned in the future. Additionally, true to their commitment not to interfere with the timber forest, coconut wood will be used in the village health clinic building.

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