Jakarta. Forests cover just under four billion hectares or 30 percent of the earth’s surface according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
They fulfill major economic functions, help maintain the fertility of agricultural land, protect water resources and reduce the risk of natural disasters such as landslides and flooding. The world’s forests are home to at least 80 percent of remaining terrestrial biodiversity and are a major carbon sink that mitigates climate change.
The World Bank's forest strategy, called Sustaining Forests, recognizes that forests have always been a part of larger economic, environmental and governance systems that must work together if the goals of poverty reduction, sustainable economic development and environmental protection are to be met.
The forestry industry plays a significant role and provides opportunities for scholars and the community in general to actively take part in protecting and managing one of the most important natural resources, and yet it remains very male-dominated.
Where Do Women Fit In?
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in stated in a report that men and women play different roles in forestry and agroforestry systems in developing countries.
Compared to men, women are frequently disadvantaged—for a range of interrelated cultural, social, economic and institutional reasons—in their access to and control over forest resources, and in the economic opportunities available to them.
Still, many women have highly-specialized education and skills well-suited for the industry in terms of biological diversity, sustainable management and use for various purposes, and conservation practices.
Just like Maggie Vency Mareta, a research officer in molecular biology who works in the genomics laboratory of Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) in Pangkalan Kerinci, Riau.
Maggie graduated from Surabaya University with a degree in biotechnology and received her master's degree from Barcelona's Autonomous University on a scholarship from the APRIL Group.
"I was offered a scholarship to carry out a project, which was a run-in collaboration between APRIL and a research institute in Spain,” Maggie said.
As one of Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper manufacturers, APRIL has two divisions under its Research and Development department: R&D for Fiber—where Maggie works—and R&D for Mill.
Maggie's division includes laboratories working on molecular biology, synthesis, soil and tissue culture.
"Maggie is very analytical and well-suited to work in research and development. I really want Maggie to continue her studies and get her doctorate so she can help APRIL's R&D department to grow even further," said Tisha Melia, Maggie’s coworker and a senior researcher at RAPP.
Maggie said APRIL offers a good working environment for young women that allows them to get involved in big projects with other companies, and helps them build confidence and experience.
"I am thankful for APRIL to have given me the opportunity to study in Barcelona, and for their continued support for our laboratories and research projects here in Riau," Maggie said.
Women in Forestry
APRIL has been actively supporting gender-equality by providing academic and career opportunities for women in the forestry industry.
The company’s mostly-male workforce has prompted it to build programs to improve opportunities for women and encourage them work for the company.
"Maggie is one our best young researchers. I feel that we do better work with her valuable input. She's still young, so I expect a lot from her in time to come. She will definitely grow to become an even better researcher," said Eko Sulistyono, another one of RAPP's senior researcher.
APRIL said it is committed to developing its workforce especially young talents like Maggie. To that end, the company has invested significant time and resources in employee training, scholarship and development.