Banjar Bengkel is a small farming village, 2,200 feet above sea level on the slopes of Mount Batukaru in Bali. The majority of its 128 families grow small-scale crops such as coffee, cacao, fruit, and rice. Traditionally, the people of Banjar Bengkel are the de facto custodians of a 650-hectare (1,606-acre) section of intact rainforest above their village. The village’s forest is part of the largest remaining tract of mountain rainforest on Bali. It is home to a variety of birds, the increasingly rare pangolin (a kind of anteater, covered in scales), and leaf-eating monkey. The village endorses traditional Balinese laws called Awig-awig, which forbid activities such as hunting and cutting trees in the forest. Punishment is a fine, or in a worst-case scenario, expulsion from the village.
Two other nearby villages have already received Seacology grants in return for protecting their forests. In Banjar Anyar, Seacology funded construction of a community center, in exchange for the village’s promise to protect 1,977 acres of rainforest in perpetuity. Next to Banjar Anyar is the village of Sarinbuana. There, Seacology funded a library/music/dance building, instruments, and equipment in exchange for village endorsement of a 1,975-acre no-take rainforest reserve in perpetuity. Together, the three villages together control 5,560 contiguous acres (2,250 hectares) of rainforest on Mount Batukaru.
Seacology is providing Banjar Bengkel with funding for a community building. Community members will use it for meetings, Balinese dance, music practices, and youth activities. In exchange, the village has committed to protect 1,606 acres of rainforest in perpetuity.