Is addressing basic human needs the key to successful biodiversity conservation?

Health in Harmony, a Portland-based nonprofit founded in 2005, works in Indonesia to address human health and deforestation.  Health in Harmony partners with Alam Sehat Lestari in Indonesian Borneo to provide low-cost health care to marginalized communities in exchange for a commitment to protect natural resources and reduce deforestation. In the past five years, their collaborative effort led to a 68 percent decrease in illegal logging in Gunung Palung National Park, home to carbon-rich peat and one of the few remaining significant populations of orangutans. In tandem, all health indicators of the communities living around the park have improved, according to Health in Harmony.

The nonprofit was recently honoured by Sustainia, as one of its top 100 sustainability innovations for the year.

What Sustainia recognized in Health In Harmony was “a unique and successful approach to conservation that assumes local people know the solutions to problems like deforestation, if we can only connect them with the resources they need.  In West Borneo, that’s affordable, high- quality health care so families don’t have to log to pay for medicine.”