New Era of Social Forestry: For People's Welfare


Posted : September 11, 2017

People living in and around forests should have access to manage forest resources. The government enables it by providing various forest management access schemes through the social forestry program.

Social forestry program in Indonesia has entered a new era under President Joko Widodo. The government has been giving legal access to communities living in and around forests to manage forest resources through five management schemes: Community Forests, Village Forests, Community Plantation Forests, Partnership, and Customary Forests. Through these schemes, community-based forest resources management can be legal and ensure its sustainability in the long run, which is one of the principles of sustainable forest management.

The government has strengthened the legal access by enacting the Minister of Environment and Forestry Regulation no. 83 in 2016 about Social Forestry. This policy harmonizes previous regulations in a more simple, integrated, and holistic regulation. One of the considerations of the regulation is the urge to accelerate reduction of poverty and unemployment, as well as gaps in utilization of forest area. This policy is a resonance of centralized implementation approach and bottom-up initiative, support from local government, and participation of civil society and other stakeholders.

Previously, while launching the collaboration program of community plantation forest with integrated wood industry in Bunto Village, Kahayan Hilir Sub-District, Pulang Pisau District, Central Kalimantan, on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016; President Joko Widodo said the government would allocate 12.7 million hectares of forest by 2019 to be managed by the people. Through social forestry program, the government wants and will keep empowering the people, cooperatives and farmers, while preserving the forest resources.

To put the policy into context, now approximately 25,000 villages in Indonesia are located around forests, and among the citizens living in those villages, 10.2 million people are impoverished. Nevertheless, Hadi Daryanto, Director General of Social Forestry and Environmental Partnership of Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF), reminded us that the program is not merely redistributing lands, but a systematic program to enable Indonesian citizens to be more productive, employed, and to secure income. "It will lead to improvement of people's welfare," he said.

Daryanto explained that up to August 2017, the government has granted forest management access of 1,053,477 hectares for 239,341 families. "From that number, 604,773 hectares were granted in November 2014 until August 2017. It is much faster than the previous government, which granted 449,104 hectares from 2007 to October 2014," he said. "Now there are around 700,000 hectares in our pipeline to be granted to the communities soon."

Daryanto added that social forestry program has contributed significant impact to communities' economic livelihood. For example, monthly income for communities who manage Kalibiru community forest in Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta, has escalated from Rp 200 million to Rp 800 million in regular months and Rp 1 billion in peak season. "They have succeeded to manage forest for ecotourism activities," Daryanto said. He is optimistic that social forestry program will be sustainable in the future.

Civil society groups have shown their success in managing social forestry. Among them are several implementers of MCA-Indonesia's Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) Grants, such as KKI Warsi that has contibuted in supporting Hutan Nagari (local name for village forest) in Solok Selatan, West Sumatra; development of community forest and community plantation forest in Kerinci, Jambi, and customary forest in Merangin, Jambi. KKI Warsi has been developing agroforestry non-timber forest products such as durian, petai, mangosteen, coffee, and rubber; edu-ethno-ecotourism; and constructing microhidro power plant that utilizes water from forest environment. Meanwhile, other grantees such as three consortia coordinated by Sulawesi Community Foundation, Hapsari and Inisiatif have been developing processing units for timber forest products such as veneer and wood pellets; and non-timber products such as rattan in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, and Luwu Raya, South Sulawesi.

Zumrotin K. Susilo, civil society activists and member of MCA-Indonesia's Board of Trustee said, 24 out 0f 52 CBNRM grantees are civil society groups that work in social forestry. "We must fight for social forestry from the upstream to downstream," she said. Susilo explained, it began in legality of forest resources management legalitu, on-farm activities such as nursery and land management, off-farm activities such as procurement of production tools to packaging to improve quality and added value of forest products, and marketing activities.

"Legally speaking, President Jokowi has granted access rights to citizens to manage forests. Now we have to answer the biggest challenge for social forestry: off-farm and marketing activities. Particularly, how to train civil society groups on enterpreneurship and marketing, and collaboration with stakeholders in the sector," said Zumrotin.

Sustainable Forests for Economic Equity
MoEF held the National Social Forestry (PeSoNa) Festival 2017 with "It's Time for The People" as the theme.

This year, the festival was attended by 73 organizations and went for three days, September 6th-8th, 2017 in Manggala Wanabakti Building, Jakarta. Various activities filled the event: seminars and talkshows, exhibition, art performance, live mural competition, and PeSoNa banquet that serves chef-made culinaries with forest-based ingredients. In addition, there was a seller meet buyer forum, when non-timber social forestry products producers could meet with capacity building networks and potential distributors and buyers.

While opening the festival, Minister Siti Nurbaya said the festival proved the government's stand for the pople and Indonesia's sustainable forests. "This festival is a forum that brings together stakeholders such as government agencies, civil societies, academics, enterpreneurs, farmers groups and cooperatives to stand together and share experience, to realize just and equitable economic through social forestry program," she said.

This article is published in Tempo Magazine edition September 11th-17th, 2017, pages 22-23. Download the article here (only in Bahasa Indonesia).