After being off limits for five years, the Lubuk Larangan river in the Tanjung Jabung Barat Regency, Jambi Province, was reopened amidst a festive atmosphere in October 2023. RSPO Certified independent smallholders from the group, Forum Petani Swadaya Merlung Renah Mendaluh (FPS-MRM), participated in the day-long celebratory “Pesta Rakyat” or community-wide gathering to catch fish at the river.
Lubuk Larangan is part of the river ecosystem surrounding the smallholders’ plantations and is formally part of their work area. The river was previously polluted from the runoff of chemical fertilisers that flowed to the riverbank, and was plagued by illegal fishing methods using poison to catch fish.
During the river’s five year closure, all fishing activities, polluting, garbage dumping and other damaging practices were prohibited and enforced by the FPS-MRM group, with support from the Tanjung Jabung Barat Regency government. The reopening of the river in 2023 marks the second harvest, following the initial one in 2018, which took place after a three-year closure.
RSPO Credits for Conservation
Since 2015, FPS-MRM has been actively contributing to conserving Lubuk Larangan by utilising funds from RSPO Credits to manage riparian areas, restock fish, and support river guardian communities. These conservation efforts have been carried out by the farmers in tandem with the local governments of Sungai Rotan Village and Tanjung Jabung Barat Regency.
“The conservation of the river area around the plantation is part of our commitment to the RSPO Standard,” said Suhaili, FPS-MRM Group Manager. “Lubuk Larangan is a testament to the important role that independent smallholders play in protecting the environment, especially river ecosystems. Hopefully, this can be used as an example for other smallholders to protect their own river ecosystems around their plantations.”
Zaudi, a community leader who has been vocal about the importance of Lubuk Larangan in their village, said, “This is a blessing – a blessing of people’s patience in protecting Lubuk Larangan. This is not just about catching fish but also an effort to improve the values, civic consciousness and environmental awareness amongst our children and grandchildren. Fish have become rare, so we want fish to thrive here and ensure that our children and grandchildren can also enjoy it.”
“This is a form of our efforts to protect and restore the river ecosystem,” expressed Hairan, Deputy Regent of Tanjung Jabung Barat. “The purpose of this activity is to give thanks to God in an effort to maintain the river ecosystem that provides benefits and maintains the balance and sustainability of nature.”
The celebratory reopening of Lubuk Larangan was attended by RSPO representative Aprilia Trianasari and local stakeholders of the Tanjung Jabung Barat Regency, highlighting the landmark partnership between smallholders and local government actors in championing conservation efforts, with support from the RSPO Smallholder Support Fund (RSSF) and RSPO Credits.