Charles Darwin University
enews home

Livelihood training builds capacity for future conservation leaders

By Leanne Miles

Dr Dirk Steenbergen with Bertha Ronsumbre and Dinawanti La Rae who participated in the “Natural Resources and Indigenous Livelihoods Course” Dr Dirk Steenbergen with Bertha Ronsumbre and Dinawanti La Rae who participated in the “Natural Resources and Indigenous Livelihoods Course”

Two conservation field coordinators with a passion for conserving the natural resources in their eastern Indonesian homelands have attended a training course at Charles Darwin University, made possible by a Crawford Fund grant.

Bertha Ronsumbre and Dinawanti La Rae participated in the “Natural Resources and Indigenous Livelihoods Course” run through the School of Environment.

Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) research fellow Dr Dirk Steenbergen said the practitioners from the “Indonesia Locally Managed Marine Area Network” (I-LMMA) attended the intensive training course.

“The community-based programs facilitated by I-LMMA have had significant success in mobilising remote coastal communities to carry out management of their own marine resources,” Dr Steenbergen said. “Doing this effectively to support the food and income requirements of local communities remains a continuing challenge among conservation initiatives in South-east Asia and beyond.”

The course focused on developing Indigenous livelihood enterprises based on sustainable use of natural resources.

I-LMMA focal area coordinator of the Upper and Lower Padaido Islands (located in Biak Numfor District) Bertha Ronsumbre said the villages in her region had been using traditional resource management regimes known as “Sasisen” to manage their coastal waters. But new livelihood strategies alongside these existing regimes were required for the region to recover after a long history of issues with illegal fishers, dynamite bombing and cyanide poisoning of local reefs.

Ms Ronsumbre, who has worked with I-LMMA for more than a decade, said the organisation had given villages in her area the ability to develop their own village regulation and manage their resources. She has also seen the number of villages in her area involved with I-LMMA expand from 12 to 22.

“Since we have had the power to manage our own waters and create regulations there has been a great deal of improvement in reef quality and the fish are returning.”

She said the training at CDU would enable her to network better with external agencies in Indonesia and internationally.

“The next step is to work on diversifying the livelihoods of our community, into other industries such as cultural tourism,” she said.

As part of the course the participants visited an Indigenous community to learn more about the development of community based enterprises.

Ms Dinawanti La Rae, who is the I-LMMA focal area coordinator in the Banda Islands, said the visit to the Merrepin Indigenous Art Centre in the community of Nauiyu in the Daly River region had provided her with ideas about how her community could value-add to their products.

“In my region of the Banda Islands tuna and nutmeg are the major sources of income for the community,” Ms La Rae said.

“In Nauiyu I saw how the people have created a niche market for their product that is associated with their story and culture.”

In its 11th year, the course is coordinated by Julian Gorman and is offered annually to undergraduate, masters and NRM professionals.