Alam Sehat Lestari is a non-profit that provides healthcare discounts to villagers who preserve the nearby rainforest.
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While it is rare that a scheme that is good for the planet doesn’t also benefit humans in the region, the short-term effects and initial costs can often discourage local people from taking part. But a charity in Indonesia found a way around this by providing participants with life-changing positive incentives. Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI) is a non-profit that provides healthcare discounts to villagers who refrain from logging the forest — an act that is hugely damaging to the local endangered wildlife, including 10 percent of the world’s orangutan population.
Illegal logging has proliferated in the villages that border the 1,100km sq Gunung Palung national park in Borneo. The practice is one of the primary sources of income for the inhabitants, and many of them are very poor. The logging is so pervasive, and it is estimated that 98 percent of the protected forest could be gone in the next 10 years. But ASRI is helping to prevent this by giving villages that stop logging up to 70 percent off of their medical bills. As a result, the human and natural health of the region has vastly improved; logging has reduced, and infant deaths have fallen by 60 percent.
ASRI, which was founded by Dr Hotlin Ompusunggu, recently won a GBP 50,000 grant from the Whitney Fund for Nature, to enable it to continue and scale its work. How else could incentives be used to encourage people to make more sustainable choices?