The COVID 19 virus caused business in Ecolodges Indonesia to cease within two weeks of late February and early March 2020. With only six months liquid funds available, all 89 staff took massive salary reductions, some up to 80%, and part time work to help the company survive over a period of 18 – 24 months. Most of our staff have served ELI for more than 10 years in their different locations. During this period, they have become committed to the conservation of the environment around them.
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Many of us in ELI have put in 20+ years of our life to develop an Indonesian company using sustainable local employment based on ecotourism. Over this period, we have served over 200,000 guests from 87 countries and built six ecolodges starting from scratch with the help of 37 shareholders, none of whom are wealthy. Our local employment philosophy has worked with new communities around all lodges committed to conservation.
ELI is the only company of its type in Indonesia. It is thus vital to preserve our staff so that we can continue. The immediate task was funding to give paid employment to our staff. An attempt is being made to use company Conservation and Agriculture trust funds (see Note 1) as seed money to adapt the company by using our legal NGO the Indonesian Conservation Foundation – Our World or Yayasan Konservasi Indonesia – Bumi Kita (YKI – BK).
Development was envisaged in two phases, Phase 1 with small projects and Phase 2 building on Phase 1 with larger programs.
We wish to thank those who have donated funds for this program. Their generosity, trust and enthusiasm are greatly appreciated, and we will do our utmost to use the funds wisely. No administration costs are being taken.
Administration After many months of negotiating Government regulations, our Conservation Foundation YKI – BK was legalised early in 2020. A Management committee of committed persons was formed to administer programs. Bank and Pay Pal accounts were opened in the name of the Foundation. The Chairman is Bapak Gede Ori, who is also Chairman of ESI. The committee consists of Putu Mariani (Supervisor), Meryl Wilson (Secretary), Rahayu Wiwiek and Kadek Dediarini (Treasurers). The committee reports to the the Board of Directors of ELI, who authorised the Foundation to raise funds to five programs outlined in Table 1.
The Board of Directors of ELI commissioned the Board of YKI – BK to raise funds and undertake the programs listed.
- A letter to all shareholders and supporters was prepared asking for financial donations to support these programs on June 16th 2020, as shown in Attachment 1.
- The funds in the company Agriculture and Conservation Trust Funds were moved into the bank account of the Foundation.
- Discussions were held individually with all managers of the lodges including their key staff members. Staff meetings were also called.
- Programs were identified and implementation has been initiated.
Results The total funds available for the five programs, as at August 13th 2020, and funds expended per program are shown in Table 2 and 3 with a current Balance Sheet on Table 4.
Program 1. The land around the lodge at Kelimutu has been prepared and planted. Rice and many vegetables are now growing (see photographs) and some have been harvested with income from sales (see Table 3). There are clove trees on the property and sales are expected from the harvest. Funds have been used to pay daily wages to staff who have worked the fields, tractor hire to prepare the paddy fields and to purchase seedlings.
Program 2. Total 11 goats have been purchased and now are settled in the gardens of five staff members. A system known as “Zero Grazing” is used. Two are a breeding pair with the female being pregnant and rest are for fattening and sale. The aim is to use profits to pay wage stipend and purchase more goats, and, develop a breeding herd.
Program 3. The tree planting program has had to wait for the planting season. A contract has been signed with our partner Karang Tarunia in the village of Tanjung Harapan and now the program can start (see photograph). Funds have been used to prepay the purchase of 1,000 seedling trees, tree planting, tree monitoring and servicing and making sign boards. Our staff will be employed in the tree planting and monitoring to earn extra funds.
Program 4. A Belgian bird guide Valerie Schollaert, who had to remain at Mbeliling due to COVID, has commenced a Bird Guide Training course for three of our staff at based at the lodge. They now have basic knowledge of identification and habits of all the common birds in the gardens and surrounds. Negotiations have also commenced with Sam Rabenak to continue the course. Sam has worked with Birding Indonesia for over 20 years and lives in the area. No funds have yet been expended; shortly the Guide will receive a fee and staff participants a daily stipend.
Program 5. The ability of the staff of Kantor Pusat (Head Office) to manage all the staff at all lodges of ELI has been exceptional. This group is essential for sustainability of the company into the future. Funds donated for this program will be held in reserve for future use to support needy families, as required.
All programs for Phase 1 of our COVID plan are now underway. Our aim was to raise the total funds needed from donors and keep the Agriculture and Conservation Funds (see Note 1 below) in reserve. Around 50% of this target has been obtained. However, we must proceed, and we have adequate funds to complete Phase 1. The progress of all five programs will be monitored continuously by the Foundation Management Committee.
The income earning potential of Kelimutu has already been shown, with income from rice and tomato sales. This is very encouraging.
Plans are now being formulated for Phase 2. These will include more ambitious programs such as cattle and pig production at Kelimutu and purchase of fire-fighting equipment for the Rimba fire-fighting team.
Note 1. Over the period 2006 to 2019, two Trust Funds were developed within the company.
1. From 2012, vegetable and fruit small holder production from the Kelimutu gardens was purchased by the kitchen for the restaurant and funds place in an Agriculture Fund. This was added to by rice production twice a year and sales of cloves once a year. Profits from the fund were used to employ persons in the local villages.
2. From 2006, US$ 10 was donated by ELI from all bookings confirmed by our Tours and Travel department ESI. Funds were used for small programs varying from illegal garbage dump removal to a fully-fledged training program in Australia and Indonesia for fire fighters. The balance at the end of 2019 was used as seed funding for the Indonesian Conservation Foundation – Our World.
TABLE 1 Five programs in Phase 1
Program No, Location and Title
- Development of the agricultural potential of land at Kelimutu Ecolodge KCLEL to grow leading to a sustainable economic and food production
Budget IRp 39,318,750 AUD 3,900
- Development of a Goat herd SSEL
Budget IRp 20,250,000 AUD 2,000
- Continued tree planting at Tanjung Puting National Park ROEL
Budget IRp 16,425,000 AUD 1,640
- Bird Guide Training and Bird trail development at Mt Mbeliling MMEL
Budget IRp 22,550,000 AUD 2,250
- Sustainability of the Head Office staff of ELI and YKI -BK KP
Budget IRp 60,000,000 AUD 6,000
TOTAL FUNDS REQUIRED FOR PHSE 1. IRp 158,543,750; AUD 15,850; US$ 11,000; Euros 9500; Pounds 800 at current exchange rates
TABEL 2. CONSERVATION FUND
TABEL 3. AGRICULTURE FUND
TABEL 4. BLANCE SHEET
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Soon we will have official pages on our website www.ecolodgesindonesia.com/conservation with guidelines how to donate.
We need your support to protect this vital group of conservationists around key Indonesian national parks.