Rudi Syaf

Ashoka Fellow
Riau, Indonesia
Fellow Since 2004


This profile was prepared when Rudi Syaf was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Rudi’s goal is to protect Indonesian indigenous groups threatened by widespread forest destruction and degradation. He believes that the loss of these peoples’ forest homes has devastating consequences for their cultural integrity and individual livelihood. In response to a critical need unmet by the Indonesian government, Rudi has created “Warsi,” an organization whose primary goal is the legal recognition of the land rights of indigenous groups through the creation of national forest reserves.
Part of Rudi’s unique vision involves the use of innovative technology, such as Global Positioning System (GPS), to more effectively lobby the government. He also concentrates on minimizing local resistance to the creation of forest reserves by working with neighboring communities. Using these techniques, as well as more traditional strategies, Warsi is the first citizen sector organization in Indonesia to have successfully advocated for the creation of an official forest reserve dedicated to an indigenous people, the Orang Rimba in Central Sumatra.
Along with protecting indigenous peoples’ rights to their forests, a critical component of Rudi’s strategy is a corresponding on-the-ground program tailored to specific problems in their communities. Working with some Orang Rimba, Warsi has, for example, designed a school curriculum appropriate to their background in oral tradition.
Having worked successfully with the Orang Rimba, Rudi is now spreading his approach to other threatened indigenous groups throughout Indonesia.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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