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Mekarjaya Village


Conservation benefit: Protection of 4,638 acres of rainforest (including replanting 326 acres) for 15 years

Community benefit: Primary school, desks and other classroom supplies

Date Approved: 02.2018


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

West Java’s beautiful rainforests support many endemic species. Some of them, including the Javan gibbon, Javan surili, Javan hawk-eagle, Javan leopard, and others, are endangered or critically endangered. Much of their forest habitat has been destroyed on this densely populated island.

But for the people of Mekarjaya Village, almost 5,000 feet up in the mountains, the forest is “the heart of life.” Dense rainforests stabilize the soil on the slopes above the community and serve as a crucial watershed. More than 90% of the households engage in small-scale rice farming. They know that a healthy rainforest is critical to their way of life and are committed to protecting it.

Mekarjaya borders the village of Puncak Baru, which is already protecting more than 2,000 acres of spectacular tropical forest as part of an agreement with Seacology. Mekarjaya will conserve 4,638 acres (1,877 hectares) of forest for 15 years. The conservation area is part of a national forest, but receives little protection in practice. Community members are well situated to keep an eye on the forest, because their rice fields lie along its lower border.

There are two other conservation aspects of the project as well. First, a community group will plant trees in 326 acres (132 hectares) of the conservation area. Second, they will conduct an environmental education program in local schools, focusing on forest ecology and conservation.

A Seacology grant will help families improve the way they store and process the rice they harvest. On land owned by the village, they will construct a small building to dry and store rice. They will also buy a dehusking machine, which separates the rice grain from the husk. Using the machine will produce unbroken grains of rice that can be sold in city markets. It also reduces the loss of husks, which are fed to livestock. The village’s BUMD (Badan Usaha Milik Desa), or village-owned enterprise, whose purpose is to strengthen the community’s economic foundation, will manage the operation.

Project Updates

February 2022

Community members will continue to plant tree seedlings of the protected forest. People from the village have finished building tables, chairs, and bookcases for the school building.

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June 2021

Community members have converted the building into a school, and craftsmen from the village are building tables, chairs, and bookcases for students and teachers.

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February 2021

Community members have planted tree seedlings on ten acres of the protected forest. They also built a building to house rice-milling equipment, but couldn’t buy the equipment because of a strict pandemic lockdown. In the meantime, a local business started milling rice, making it a less attractive option for the village. The community decided they wanted to instead use the building as a primary school and to buy desks, chairs, and other supplies. Seacology was happy to approve this change in plans.

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June 2020

Construction of the building is complete, and the area for drying the rice has been prepared. The community still expects to buy the rice mill, but the government has shut down virtually all activity in West Java. Our field representative Irman Meilandi notes that people in Mekarjaya and Puncak Baru are now selling brown sugar directly to users, online—and at a better price. This gives them another reason to project the sugar palm trees that grow naturally in the area.

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December 2019

Community members have planted tree seedlings in ten acres of the protected forest.

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December 2018

When the rainy season began, community members began planting the tree seedlings they started growing last summer.

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September 2018

The buildings for milling and drying rice have been completed, and the community has bought a rice-milling machine. Community members continue to carry out maintenance and plant trees around the Gunung Simpang forest. Because it’s summer, the community is focusing on nurseries and preparing land for tree planting later, in the rainy season.

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May 2018

Community members recently finished preparing an area for the rice mill. Construction of the building is about 25% done, according to the fiscal administrator. Groups of farmers are preparing tree seedlings to plant in the protected forest, which is adjacent to forest protected by a Seacology project in the village of Puncak Baru.

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