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Seram Island


Conservation benefit: Creation of a 370-acre rainforest no-take zone

Community benefit: Rural health clinics and community health training and education

Date Approved: 07.2004


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

Seram is the largest of the “Spice Islands” in the remote eastern region of Indonesia. Two villages on its northern coast, Sawai (Muslim) and Masihulan (Christian), live side by side in harmony with a combined population of 1,500 people.

The villages are willing to set aside 370 acres of pristine forest as a strict no-take zone for at least 50 years. In return, they have requested critically needed improvements to their healthcare system, which is extremely poor. In cooperation with Project Bird Watch, Seacology will fund basic health facilities, medical training for village-based practitioners, and community health education.

Project Updates

January 2007

There have been some delays in finalizing water connection to the clinic at Olong. Project Birdwatch provided funding for temporary plumbing until the government installs permanent piping.

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June 2006

In 2005, the no-take site was formally signed and bound by the King of Sawai District, heads of both villages, and heads of surrounding villages. All signatories have permanent copies of the agreement. The clinic in Masihulan was completed, furnished and equipped with small refrigerators running on solar power for medicine in 2005. The clinic in Olong was also completed in early 2006 and officially dedicated by the King of Sawai District in April 2006. The nurse practitioners will continue their training as courses become available. Work on a children’s coloring book/hygiene manual will be completed in mid-2006.

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January 2006

The two clinics have been completed and are operational. Both nurse practitioners have completed training in Bali. Small refrigerators to store medicine, to be powered by portable solar generators, have been purchased, as have solar-powered water purifiers. Work on a children’s coloring book/hygiene manual will begin shortly. Project coordinator Dr. Stewart Metz of Project Bird Watch reports that the rainforest preserve is being honored by local communities and remains pristine.

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September 2005

The first clinic (in Masihulan Village) is essentially completed except for cabinets and ornaments. The basic structure of the second is complete as well, although it requires landscaping, and some work on windows, cabinets, and other interior free-standing items. Both clinics are likely to be completed this month or in early October. Many residents of Sawai (the Muslim village) have moved across the inlet to the small town of Olong. Since that is an extremely poor and underprivileged town, the clinic was constructed there. Solar-powered generators coupled to water purification systems are being transported from Ambon to their respective clinics on Seram. Refrigerators to hold medicines will be purchased as soon as the solar-powered generators are assembled and working.

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July 2005

In November 2004, village dignitaries and the King of Sawai District officially designated an area of prime lowland forest set between branches of the Salawai River as a no-take Heritage site. Both village clinics are under construction and are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2005. Mantris (nurse practitioners) were hired for each village and are currently attending a month-long disease, hygiene and community health course in Bali. They have already completed a course on tuberculosis, arranged by the NGO Doctors Without Borders, and will continue to supplement their training as courses become available on Ambon. A health manual is being written and once printed will be distributed to villagers.

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January 2005

In October 2004, Seacology Field Representative Arnaz Mehta confirmed that the political situation in Ambon and the province of Maluku, where Seram Island is located, has remained peaceful for several months and that stability has returned to this region following the country’s elections. The project began in November 2004.

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