The forest community living in Aceh Nanggroe Darrussalam Province were loggers, holding primary responsibility for managment of the forest before the 2004 tsunami took away their livelihood. As such, their skillbase made them an invaluable community stakeholder in it's rehabilitation and reconstruction; however on 6 June 2007, a new policy on exploitation logging was passed by the Govenor of Aceh and a moratorium on all logging was put in place. This left the community again without employment and considering its options. Together with a generation of younger activists that had recently completed permaculture workshops through IDEP, they established a small grass roots organisation to develop a community based ecoturism project - Greenhands Aceh. With good preparation, the Greenhands believe they will be able to support wellbeing and contribute income to both the local and broader Aceh community. The key objectives of Greenhands Aceh are:
- ENVIRONMENT - manage the Aceh forests in a sustainable way.
- EDUCATION - encourage local and international awareness in the environmental preservation of Aceh forests.
- EMPLOYMENT - provide opportunities for local people to re-establish a sustainable livelihood in Aceh forests.
The community agreed that the Aceh forest is an ideal location for ecotourism, being the most bio-diverse in all Indonesia. The inital target is to prepare for an internationally promoted 'Visit Aceh Year' in 2009. The Greenhands Aceh Project requested assistance from IDEP and Ethos Global to create a strategic business plan, capacity building staff for implementing the plan and initiate research for the investment funding needed to create this solution to their livelihood issue. In 2006, the Greenhands Aceh received funding from UBS for strategy development and infrastructure for the Greenhands (Permaculture) Field School required for program preparations.
Concurrently with planning for a larger eco-tourism project, other members of the Greenhands based in Lloong will continue building cabins and rooms for offices, staff housing, creating community food gardens and initiating other craft based small businesses using recycled plastics which are all integral aspects of the sustainable community livelihoods vision and practice.
In 2008, the Greenhands Aceh received investment funding to implement their eco-tourism project from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Foundations, through their Community Based Program.