Since 2017, cosmetics retailer Lush has been buying organic certified raw virgin coconut oil directly from ÄluÄn – one of the collective organizations located on the Bangkaru and Simeulue Islands in the Aceh region of Indonesia.
Alongside producing the highest quality coconut oil, these organizations are dedicated to conserving endangered ecosystems and providing a sustainable source of finance for sea turtle conservation programs.
Ever since arriving in Aceh after the Indian ocean tsunami of 2014, ÄluÄn co-founder and EcosystemImpact chairperson Jane Dunlop has been passionate about protecting the area’s biodiversity.
“The vision for these funding structures is to finance businesses that create jobs and green growth and to promote local support for a more sustainable development path, while also providing a sustainable source of financing to traditional conservation and community development initiatives to be implemented by EcosystemImpact. A healthy economy goes hand in hand with a healthy planet. The more that ÄluÄn grows, the more EcosystemImpact will grow, the more the planet heals. And so do we,” she said.
A chain of pristine deep-sea islands, Simeulue and Bangkaru offer one of the last refuge and nesting sites for critically-endangered turtles as well as several bird species. The EcosystemImpact foundation aims to keep these islands wild through a sustainability approach where business, people and nature thrive alongside each other.
“We are building new and replicable ways of doing things, in order to heal our planet. One day this will be the new norm – actually it will be even better than we can possibly imagine. But, we have work to do,” Dunlop said.
The poaching of sea turtle eggs is a culturally-ingrained practice in Indonesia, with the eggs being considered a local delicacy, along with being a free and easy source of food.
Bangkaru Ranger Program
Bangkaru is the only island in Indonesia where Green turtles nest every night of the year and is
also an important nesting site for Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles. EcosystemImpact has a team of six rangers who provide constant protection of Bangkaru, alongside Indonesia’s wildlife protection agency, BKSDA.
Before the Bangkaru Ranger Programme was set up, turtle egg poachers sometimes took as many as 1,500 eggs a night. Since their involvement in 2016, EcosystemImpact and partners have reduced poaching to zero.
In the region of Southeast Asia, which is the global center of marine biodiversity, over 80 percent of coral reefs are considered as threatened. In 2019, EcosystemImpact started a small community-based project to protect and restore Simeulues’ coral reefs. Six fishers and divers were selected and trained to understand the importance of reefs from a conservation perspective. They are now in the process of building coral nurseries at five locations across Simeulue and its outer islands.
Join EcosystemImpact on a journey to Bangkaru Island with this short film created by award-winning photojournalists, Paul Hilton and Alex Westover.