Forests, People and Rights, Down to Earth Special Report: June 2002

Part III: Community forest management,
the way forward


What is community forest management?
Pressure for reform & the GoI response
The HKM programme
The Peoples' Forest Programmes
PHBM in Kuningan, West Java
The community forestry movement
Solidarity in South Sumatra
Community-based forest management in Wonosobo, Central Java
Agroforestry in Krui, Sumatra
The Behoa people of Central Sulawesi
Revitalising customary laws: Bentek
Logging to save the forests: Pejangki
Forests and communities, W. Kalimantan
Challenges to community management
Footnotes to Part III


Forest peoples have been regarded by Indonesia's powerful wood industry and successive governments in Jakarta as a problem, an obstacle to the profitable exploitation of the forests. While the need to deal with forest communities has long been recognised by Jakarta, the measures designed to do this have failed. These include commitments to community development by logging companies, schemes for small-scale miners, social forestry schemes, shares for co-operatives - all of which have been designed without input from forest communities. They failed because they were cosmetic measures, which paid lip-service to public concerns, and did not affect company profits or government revenues. There was a complete lack of political will to carry out the fundamental changes in forest management needed to effect real change. The escalation in protests by communities whose forests and livelihoods were being destroyed in the meantime provided damming evidence of this failure.

Community forest management provides a radical alternative approach which puts forest peoples at the centre of decision-making and sees them, not as a problem to be dealt with, but as a key part of the solution.

Part III of Forests, People and Rights, focuses on the positive role of community forest management. It explores what community forest management means, describes government responses to demands for reform and focuses on a number of officially-sanctioned programmes. It then outlines the community forest movement in Indonesia and highlights six examples from different parts of the country. Finally, the section on challenges and recommendations put forward ideas - garnered from various organisations - for moving forward.

What is community forest management?

"Wherever local forest-dependent people's rights are ignored, whenever they are excluded from forest resources and their management or marginalised by external forestry managers or forced to interact 'illegally' with their natural ecosystem, the results are socially unacceptable, economically inequitable and ecologically devastating."

(Campbell & Raharjo, Feb 2000)

As so many people are talking about community forestry, it is important to be clear what the term means. For many years, forestry policy internationally was underpinned by an assumption that local forest users were ignorant and destructive. Indigenous peoples' skills and knowledge were unrecognised, until very recently, by decision-makers in capital cities who ignored the obvious incentive these communities have to manage forests sustainably. Indigenous practitioners of rotational forest management, land-hungry settlers and illegal loggers were bracketed together as 'shifting cultivators' and branded the prime agent of forest degradation.

Since the 1978 'Forests for People' World Forestry Congress was held, there has been a gradual shift in perspectives. The concept of community-based forest management has gained international acceptability. Decision-makers all over the world, not just in Indonesia, are realising that the people who know most about local forest management are those who live in and around their forests.

In Indonesia, the community forestry movement starts from the premise that the domination of the state, the centralised nature of forest management and the state's refusal to recognise adat rights are the major causes of deforestation and forest degradation. Civil society groups and academics who support community forestry generally recognise that it is not a panacea to solve all the problems affecting Indonesia's forests - it must be accompanied by democracy and decentralisation of power and decision-making. Nevertheless it offers an alternative model to industrial forest management as a way of linking local forestry and local development.

The plethora of terms in English - community forestry, joint forest management, participatory forest management, social forestry - is mirrored by an equally confusing range of terms in Bahasa Indonesia. Hutan kerakyatan, kehutanan sosial, hutan kemasyarakatan, are phrases which have been adopted by various NGOs then gradually rejected as the government adopts the new terminology, but not the thinking, behind them. As a result, most civil society groups now use the English term 'community-based natural resource management' (CBNRM) to discuss sustainable control over natural resources - including forests - by local people. Meanwhile, forest communities who have been deluged by government and NGO vocabulary continue to refer to their practices by their own terms such as managing tembawakng, wono, alas etc.

In complete contrast to Indonesia's uniform state model of forest management through 'selective logging and replanting' (TPTI), no single pattern of community-based forest management can be promoted as an alternative model. Historical, forestry and anthropological research testify to the existence of indigenous forest resource management systems from almost all parts of Indonesia. Each developed according to the local culture, ecology and climate and has its own special characteristics.

These adat systems are still evolving in response to economic and political changes within and outside the community. In some places adat practices are still alive; in most they have been eroded or even stamped out by government edicts, resettlement programmes and large-scale commercial logging.

At the same time, forest-dependent communities have been taking action - setting up alliances at local, regional and national level with support from other civil society groups (see section on AMAN). They are openly pressing for their rights, in particular recognition of adat rights and re-classification of forest lands. Some are starting to engage in active dialogue with the government and forestry companies.

The features of community forest management

CBNRM seeks to guarantee access and control over forest resources for people living in and around forests who depend on them for their economic, social, cultural and spiritual well-being. Forests should be managed to provide inter-generational security and increase the likelihood of sustainability.

It is based on three principles:

  • the rights and responsibilities over forest resources must be clear, secure and permanent;
  • the forests must be properly managed so that there is a flow of benefits and added value;
  • forest resources must be transferred in good condition to ensure their future viability.
CBNRM incorporates the following features:

  • World view - holistic perspective encompassing ecological, social, political, moral and spiritual factors as well as, not instead of, economic aspects;
  • Morality - based on harmony not conflict;
  • Ecology - integrates people and their environment with economics at a local level by taking a multi-functional and multi-product approach;
  • Economy - promotes poverty reduction, equity and self sufficiency;
  • Social integration - promotes local development based on communities rather families splitting up to seek a living elsewhere;
  • Democracy - decisions about local resources are made by local people;
  • Civil society - co-operation and partnerships between community groups;
  • Spirituality and culture - many forest communities regard forests as the homes of their ancestors, sacred spirits and godsi.
i. Munggoro in Aliadi, 1999, p35-7

Pressure for reform and the government's response

States should "obtain the consent of (tribal and indigenous) peoples, as expressed through their own representative institutions, in decisions affecting their future".
(ILO Convention 169, Article 6.1a)

Conflicts over forest resources continue to challenge the authority of the state at a time of political weakness and uncertainty. At the same time, logging and mining companies which are 'on the front line' are petitioning local and central government to resolve their confrontations with forest communities. The situation is a time bomb as Jakarta continues to prioritise national unity and ignore indigenous demands for rights. Meanwhile, poverty within and around Indonesia's rapidly diminishing forests gets worse as people are denied access to the land and resources on which sustainable livelihoods depend.

Forestry policy reform in Indonesia is an essential element of sustainable forest management. Even in government circles, it is now recognised that there is a need for change since existing forest policies and management practices have failed to protect forest areas and improve the welfare of communities living in and around forests.

There are essentially three stances to reform:

  1. Limited reform - maintaining the status quo as far as possible, including state control of forests and natural resources and the role of central government. Pragmatic changes to reduce conflict between communities, companies and the state to ease pressure from civil society and international donors.

  2. Liberal reform - making maximum use of existing legislation and regulations to protect forest peoples' rights and their autonomy in decision-making on land and natural resources.

  3. Radical reform - changing the mainstream positions on forest tenure and management. Making local communities the key decision-makers and key actors. Recognising the ecological, social and economic sustainability of traditional systems and using these as the basis for new models of natural resource ownership and use.

The government approach

To date, there have been four main government initiatives to address forest communities' demands for ecological justice[1]:

  1. The community forestry programme - mainly for areas of degraded forest not within existing concessions (hutan kemasyarakatan);
  2. Recognising some adat forests where management practices are deemed sustainable (hutan masyarakat adat) (see box on KdTI, Part I)
  3. Encouraging tree planting on private land (hutan rakyat);
  4. Granting logging concessions to local communities in addition to or instead of to large companies (HPH Kecil - see box, Part II)

The former state forestry company, Perum Perhutani, has also introduced its own form of community forestry on Java through the Joint Forest Management scheme.

These are only very limited reforms, despite their use of the term 'community forestry'. They only refer to management or access, not tenure. Some forestry officials at central and local government level do have a more progressive outlook but, to date, reforms have been constrained by the premise of state control of forests enshrined in the Constitution and the 1960 Basic Agrarian Law. The recent decision by the Consultative Assembly, Indonesia's highest legislative body, to revise the legislation on land and natural resources opens up new opportunities for a new framework for forest management. (See box on MPR decree, Part II.)

Even so, considerable obstacles remain. For example, for years the Indonesian government never officially recognised the existence of indigenous communities. Officials need to be able to 'locate' an issue conceptually and physically, yet the government has no definition of indigenous peoples and no map of where they are. Even now, it talks in terms of the forests of 'communities who live by customary law' (hutan masyarakat hukum adat) to avoid the phrase 'indigenous lands' or adat forests.

The situation is further complicated because previous governments have forced many adat communities to leave their homelands. These areas now appear empty and may even be claimed by more than one indigenous group. In addition, as the 1999 Forestry Act treats adat forest as a part of state forest, the government cannot see how to mark the boundaries between state forest and adat forest - an essential step in resolving conflict over resources. Indigenous peoples and their NGO supporters argue that their prior rights to all customary land, including agroforestry plots and natural forest, must be recognised, not just certified land. The long-awaited regulation on adat forests which complements the Forestry Act, is due to come out soon. However, there are no signs that Megawati's government is going to pay any attention to indigenous demands for adat tenure and management systems to be recognised on an equal footing with state legislation.

It is a bitter irony that, under current government community forestry regulations, indigenous communities have to submit management plans for the use of their adat lands to the Department of Forestry - an institution which has proved incapable of managing Indonesia's forests. The only silvicultural model promoted by the forest bureaucracy for the past thirty years has been orientated towards the large-scale production of a single product - timber. This paradigm is hardly appropriate to evaluate the management of highly complex indigenous agroforestry systems with their diversity of forest products.

"Between 14 and 20 million hectares of logged over concessions could be handed over to local communities. A further 15-20 million hectares of more seriously degraded forest would need rehabilitation through some form of co-operation between the state, private sector and local institutions."

(Business Indonesia, citing FKKM, 1/Aug/2002)

Government-approved options for indigenous communities

A forest farmer or community leader seeking to secure forest access theoretically has a number of legal options:

  1. Under Forestry Act 41/1999 - legal recognition of hutan adat within state forest
  2. Request a temporary use permit (IPHH) under Law 41/1999
  3. Apply for a community forestry concession (HP HKM) under SK31/2001.
  4. Form a larger co-operative and apply for a HPH kecil and/or 20% of shares in a concession holding
  5. Seek special status (KuTK, formerly KTI)- as for Krui - also under Law 41/1999
  6. Use local autonomy legislation to redefine villages as nagari, marga, Kampokng and pass local regulations which recognise and protect traditional decision-making institutions and forest management systems
  7. Use BPN ministerial order 5/1999 on settlement of disputes over customary lands
  8. In Java only - push for more involvement in the Integrated Village Community Development (PMDH-terpadu) programme
  9. In Java only - apply to be a pilot project under the Joint Forest Management scheme (Pengelolaan Hutan Bersama Masyarakat) with PT Perhutani.

Alternatively, forest people have 'illegal' options such as occupying forest lands.

Adapted from SHK vs HKM:Haruskah Dipertentangkan?Article in Galang SHK No.1, Jan 2001 p.12-16

The HKM community forestry programme
(Hutan Kemasyarakatan)

"The low-cost community forest (Hutan Kemasyarakatan) program has provided heartening evidence of poverty alleviation, conflict resolution, reforestation and bottom-up collaboration among local people and government forestry agencies, notably in Sesaut in Lombok and Gunung Betung in Lampung"

(Marzuki Usman in his address to the CGI, April 2001)

HKM was, until the introduction of small-scale logging concessions, the main thrust of the government's community forestry initiatives[2]. Its future is now uncertain. The programme has been the topic of intense public debate between foresters, academics, NGOs and indigenous groups. The argument is hard to follow because the HKM programme has been through several different incarnations, all under the same name, during an eight-year period.

HKM is essentially a lease scheme for forest use by local groups. It can operate in any type of forest - Production, Protection or Conversion - where no other logging or plantation concessions are currently valid. It allows local people to use these forests and plantations to harvest timber or non-timber products for their own use or on a commercial basis.

The drawbacks of HKM are that:

The earliest HKM scheme was an attempt by Perhutani to apply the Social Forestry Programme used on Java to its reforestation work on other islands. Previous attempts to establish timber plantations had been unsuccessful due to conflicts over tenure with local communities. Pilot projects in East and West Nusa Tenggara provinces and East Timor - set up in 1994 - involved replanting degraded land with a mixture of trees for timber (70%) and other uses (30%). Communities were allowed to grow their own crops between the young trees for the first few years. Some local governments applied the same approach to restoring forest cover in watersheds e.g. Tulang Bawang, Lampung.

The results of the pilot projects were mixed. In some places, plantations were successfully established and local incomes increased. However, settlers employed for tree planting tended to benefit more than indigenous communities. In others, the new plantations failed as local people preferred to nurture their own plantations. In Nusa Tenggara Barat province, farmers with livestock lost out as their grazing land was converted to plantations.

Decree 677

Forestry Minister Muslimin also adopted the term HKM for a radically new community-based forest management scheme. He worked with forest researchers and NGO staff from Bina Swadaya, ICRAF, FKKM and Ford Foundation, plus progressive elements within the department, to draft a new decree. SK677/1998 was eventually introduced in October 1998. It was the first policy instrument to recognise the existence of forest communities and to make them - rather than individual families or companies - the key decision-makers and the beneficiaries of the scheme.

In theory, communities could decide what sort of management body to set up and use their own planting schemes, based on traditional forestry management practices, instead having to stick to a single government pattern. The emphasis was on biological and cultural diversity. People could harvest natural and planted timber, instead of just non-timber products, over a 30 year period.

In practice, the scheme had many flaws even though the list of principles which accompanied Decree 677 were welcomed by many in the community forestry movement. All management plans had to be approved by officials who tended to adopt more conventional, business-orientated approaches. They translated the ideals of community management as small-scale commercial logging operations. Only co-operatives were considered acceptable to manage these. The community's needs, indigenous knowledge and traditional skills were overlooked.


A subsequent decree brought a fundamental change. Under Muslimin Nasution's SK865/1999, the right to manage a community forest (Hak Pengelolaan HKM) became a permit to exploit one (Ijin Pemanfaatan HKM[3]). Applications from farmers groups, co-operatives, Islamic schools and other groups piled up at the Department of Forestry and some temporary permits were issued. With the introduction of regional autonomy, it became less clear who had the authority to issue HKM permits or which areas were eligible.

The government introduced yet another change in 2001 (SK31/2001) which superseded previous policy decisions. This tipped the balance even further towards business and forest exploitation and away from the original intention that HKM should be a mechanism for conflict resolution and a sustainable model of community-based forest management. This kind of community forestry permit can only be issued for areas of forest not covered by other licences - logging, plantation or mining permits. As so much of Indonesia's forest has been allocated for those purposes, it is hard to see where the many groups of dispossessed forest peoples will be able to apply for a HPHKM.

The situation is further complicated by HKM community forestry initiatives funded by loans from OECF (the Japanese government aid agency). This project, which involves the National Planning Board BAPPENAS, is operating in ten provinces: Riau, W. Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu, S. Sulawesi, SE Sulawesi, C. Sulawesi, East and West Nusa Tenggara and Maluku. The design of the programmes, seedling nurseries, planting schemes, maintenance and training are all conducted through consultants and contractors working with NGOs rather than being genuine community-led initiatives. This raises the question of whether the government is genuinely interested in the basic principles of community forestry or whether HKM is merely a means of accessing more foreign funds. As the OECF programme provides loans rather than grants it could be an expensive option for Indonesia in the long term.

The intense debates over the HKM have been highly emotive, yet there has been no proper monitoring and evaluation. Critics point out that HKM has only benefited a relatively small proportion of indigenous communities. They claim the beneficiaries to date have been local entrepreneurs, settlers and town dwellers who understand how to deal with the authorities and set up co-operatives. Certainly, hundreds of HKM applications have been made in some provinces (for example, Central Kalimantan), the majority by forest-grabbing opportunists who are nothing to do with indigenous communities.

Other local authorities, for example in Lampung, insist that HKM permits would only be issued to bona fide community groups and emphasise the responsibility to conservation as part of the right to profit from the forest[4]. At the same time, agencies such as the Ford Foundation, claim that there is much to be learnt from HKM schemes in Sesaot (Lombok), Nenggala (Toraja) and Gunung Betung (South Lampung) and that - while far from perfect - HKM was a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen what will happen to HKM projects once the forthcoming regulation on adat community forests is introduced.

The People's Forest Programme
(Program Hutan Rakyat)[5]

This government programme aims to encourage individual land owners to plant forest trees as small-scale private estates. There are a number of different models, from 'People's Forests' established by the community on their own initiative and from their own savings; to government-sponsored 'regreening' or job creation projects; to schemes promoted by private companies or co-operatives. They are all directed towards people who have certified land which is not forested. (If a land owner chooses to plant mostly coffee and fruit trees, this is called a 'Peoples Plantation' - part of the agriculture authorities' domain). The government's input may be technical assistance, funding (from the Reforestation Fund) or assistance with credit facilities. Loans are sometimes available to growers, but this is not an obligatory part of the package.

Each farmer may only plant a fraction of a hectare with trees but, as villagers often form 'forest farmers groups', these plantations can be extensive. These now cover some 1.2 million ha and produce 2 million cubic metres of timber per year[6,7]. As natural forests dwindle, the government is promoting People's Forests as a source of firewood, timber for construction and materials for furniture makers and handicrafts as well as a means of supporting local economies and reducing soil erosion. Farmers will usually grow vegetables, fruits and gingers as intercrops between rows of young trees. Pulp mills and their plantation companies have encouraged local people to plant fast growing trees to increase their access to supplies of pulpwood. Head of the timber producers' association MPI-Reformasi, Sofjan Siambaton, estimates that if the government set up a professional team, 10 million ha of 'Peoples' Forest' could be planted in ten years. If harvested on a ten-year cycle, he thinks this would yield 200 - 250 million m3 timber a year - sufficient to meet all Indonesia's domestic and export needs[8].

The timber produced from hutan rakyat can be sold, but only with the correct permits and a letter from the village head attesting to its origin. Until very recently, Perhutani had a monopoly on selling timber from Java, leading to low prices for local timber growers. Outside Java, illegal levies imposed by forestry authorities present a problem.

Nevertheless, many 'People's Forests' are success stories, particularly in Java. Gunung Kidul, near Yogya, was once renowned as a barren limestone area which was one of the poorest parts of Central Java. After hundreds of hectares of teak, acacia and mahogany trees were planted by villagers, the local rainfall has increased and local communities can make a reasonable living[9]. Wonosobo also has extensive areas of 'People's Forest' planted under regreening schemes.

The PT Xylo Indah Pratama (XIP) is another example of a 'Peoples' Forest' promoted as a success story by the government. In partnership with forest farmers groups, PT XIP has planted 51,000ha of land in Musi Rawas, South Sumatra with Alstonia scholaris. The wood is made into pencils for export by Faber Castell of Germany. Farmers also grow vegetables, chillies and beans in the plantation[10]. The whole plantation is FSC certified.

PHBM in Kuningan, West Java

The Joint Forestry Management Approach (PHBM) owes much to pioneering work on community forestry by NGOs like Bina Swadaya, LATIN, Gita Pertiwi and ARuPA over the last ten years with Perhutani while it was a state-owned forestry company (see also box on Social Forestry, Part I). Civil society groups have urged Perhutani to adopt a multi-stakeholder forest management programme based on the principles that forest resources are assets which should be shared equitably and that forest villages are central to the management of forests. Increasingly, they press the case for management systems based on community practices and draw attention to the persistence of traditional respect for forests (ngamumule leuweung), even on Java.

Progress has been so slow, due to resistance within Perhutani and the Forestry Department to the concept of community forestry, that many NGOs doubt the extent of official commitment. For example, Perhutani's term for community forestry refers to 'joint management' not 'community-based management'. Conveniently, the Indonesian acronym PHBM[11] can stand for either. Yet, there is a world of difference - conceptually and practically - between a forest management scheme devised by industry and government which allows the community to play some minor role and one in which local people are the primary actors and beneficiaries. More radical NGOs and academics are critical that joint forest management does not address tenurial issues and question whether a Perhutani-style scheme could work outside Java.

A pilot PHBM project was set up by Perhutani and Kuningan district government with the consent of the local community. Around one third of this part of West Java (35,000ha) is classified as state forest but, in the last 3 years, some 8,000ha have been stripped of trees. In the government's eyes this is illegal logging and has caused serious confrontations with forest dwellers. There are also concerns about increased sedimentation in local rivers. The Indonesian forest NGO LATIN mediated an agreement which was officially sanctioned by a district head's decree in July 2000.

The next step is for the district assembly to pass a local regulation (Perda) to strengthen the legal basis of the new model of joint forest management. LATIN is pressing for this legislation to give the local community an equal say in planning and managing forest resources and sharing in the profits. Villagers see this as a means to reclaim their forests from Perhutani, whereas the local government considers it as another step towards genuine regional autonomy.

PT Perhutani signed an agreement with a local forest farmer group in December 2001[12]. This lays down rights and responsibilities and commits both parties (and the village head) to stick to the principles and rules of joint forest management agreed by Cileuya village forum; to draw up all plans for monitoring, evaluation, supervision and security together; and to share the inputs and outputs of the scheme. Meanwhile, West Java provincial administration assumed full control of the region's forests from PT Perhutani by passing a local regulation in late 2001. Frustrated by the lack of progress with Perhutani over community forestry plans, Kuningan council has plans to take over that particular unit of forest and form a local authority company (BUMD). The Kuningan Bupati has urged West Java's governor to ask President Megawati to allow the district to assume control[13].

The community forestry movement

The community forestry movement is a loose alliance of NGOs, indigenous peoples organisations and academics concerned with promoting forest communities at the centre of forest management in Indonesia. The organisations highlighted here are some of the major groups working towards this broad goal, although they may have differences in aims and approaches. There is insufficient space to provide detailed information on all groups, but the contacts box should provide a good starting point for further information.

Through a variety of organisations and initiatives, community forestry advocates are going out to research and record indigenous practices, studying the adat law on which they are based and promoting examples of sustainable management practices as the basis of forestry policy reform. The intention is also to strengthen sustainable indigenous systems and to explore how they are adapting or can adapt in a changing world.

Meetings at local, national and international level have resulted in the publication of some papers, but more field studies need to be written up in Bahasa Indonesia and English in order to reach broader national and international audiences.

The international research centre, ICRAF, and the forest NGO, LATIN, have led the way in producing a number of publications explaining the principles of community forestry management and addressing the need for a new paradigm in forest management. Together, they have championed the Krui's agroforestry system and played a crucial part in securing special status for their adat lands.

To date, the various civil society groups which make up the community forestry movement have focused on fieldwork, research, problem analysis and practical assistance such as providing legal rights training, participatory community mapping and training for establishing and running credit unions. Some have provided advocacy training for key individuals, usually from within the community. Typically, this entails people attending workshops or short courses at the NGO's base and then returning to their villages as key workers or 'community organisers'.

"Indonesian agroforests contribute significantly to the national economy. They provide approximately 70% of the total amount of rubber produced in the country, at least 80% of the damar resin, roughly 80-90% of the various marketed fruits; not yet estimated but rather important quantities of the main tree export crops such as cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, coffee and candlenut. In Sumatra alone, about 4 million hectares (of forest) have been converted by local people into various kinds of agroforests without any outside assistance. An estimated 7 million people in Sumatra and Kalimantan are living from rubber-based agroforests that are spread across approximately 2.5 million hectares."

(Fay, Sirait & Kusworo, 2000)

The Santika Declaration

Around 50 representatives of indigenous communities, NGOs and individuals concerned to realise the ideals of community forestry held a workshop in Jakarta in July 2000. The meeting was organised by WALHI and funded by DFID. The outcomes were presented to government officials, including Minister for the Regions, Erna Witoelar and Secretary General of Forestry, Suripto, who attended the final day's session, gave their responses and discussed the way forward. This is part of the declaration on policy reform.

" We consider that the process of constitutional reform is very important in renewing the social contract between the people and the state so that it includes human rights issues, regional autonomy and the role of adat/local communities in natural resource management. We also consider that it is necessary to review all sectoral legislation (forestry, mining, land and conservation)...

We demand that spatial planning/zoning is participatory, transparent and most importantly, based on local community land-use planning.

We are concerned about the tendency for regional autonomy implementation to be directed purely towards increasing local revenues through opening up opportunities to investments which will destroy local economies.

In particular, we demand genuine community involvement in decision-making, primarily in drawing up policy decisions and regulations concerning natural resource management and the existence of indigenous/local peoples' rights."


Like many other sectors of civil society, indigenous peoples became more outspoken in their demands after Suharto stepped down in May 1998. The position of forest peoples of Indonesia is very weak. Many indigenous peoples, particularly those living a traditional way of life in forests, are completely unrecognised by the state. They have no vote as they have no national identity card.

A number of well-established Indonesian NGOs has supported indigenous people's struggles for some years through a network called JaPHaMa. In March 1999, it facilitated the first national indigenous congress[14]. Over 200 delegates representing indigenous communities throughout the archipelago attended the week-long meeting in Jakarta - many of them from forests. Participants strongly expressed their anger at the way they had been dispossessed of their customary lands and blamed for the destruction and degradation of Indonesia's forests. They demanded recognition of their sovereignty over their resources and customary lands and of their skills and expertise as practitioners of sustainable forest management.

The result was the creation of the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, AMAN, an indigenous people's organisation set up to strengthen their bargaining power vis-à-vis the government and the private sector. There are an estimated 50-70 million indigenous people in Indonesia:30-50 million of them directly dependent on adat forest[15]. At the national level AMAN increases pressure on the government to recognise adat rights and remove all legislation and supplementary regulations which violate adat law. At the local level, AMAN seeks to strengthen the local economies of indigenous communities by exploring initiatives to improve their production and marketing of forest products in sustainable, equitable ways.

AMAN is also a vehicle for developing awareness of policy issues - both government agendas, such as regional autonomy, and their own concerns, such as how adat institutions and laws can be revived or adapted to meet the challenges of a modernising society; what sort of legal framework is necessary to protect indigenous rights; the role of women in adat communities. The alliance is controlled by a council comprising two indigenous representatives (a man and a woman) from each province. West Papua has four representatives to take account of its size and the large number and diversity of indigenous peoples. A small secretariat is based in Jakarta.

It is still early days to gauge the long-term significance or achievements of AMAN. The organisation faces considerable communications problems in view of the huge size of Indonesia; the broad distribution of indigenous groups and their lack of access to technology; organisational problems to do with representation, democracy and delegation of decision-making; strategic problems relating to negotiating recognition of indigenous rights with the local and central authorities. On the other hand, these are problems common to indigenous peoples' organisations throughout the world.

Within a relatively short time, the creation of AMAN has already increased the confidence and solidarity of indigenous peoples in Indonesia. Communities in several 'outer islands' have set up associations at local and provincial level and have held meetings to work on their own local agendas. There have also been two island-wide indigenous gatherings, for Kalimantan and Sulawesi, and a conference for indigenous women.

Until the indigenous peoples' movement grows stronger in terms of alliances and experience, NGOs and other non-government agencies have important roles to play in:

  • making forest communities more aware of the various legal options available to them;
  • helping forest communities to articulate their demands and to present them to the local and central authorities;
  • assisting communities to maintain or develop equitable decision-making mechanisms;
  • helping to lobby for changes in state and local legislation to replace legal instruments which disadvantage forest communities with ones which recognise their rights;
  • mapping community lands to help secure adat rights (see sections on the Behoa and West Kalimantan);
  • strengthening the local economy through giving training in setting up credit unions;
  • increasing community awareness of other services and roles which outsiders may provide. For example, processing and marketing forest products;
  • facilitating the exchange of information between communities and civil society groups through networks and workshops;
  • providing a bridge between forest communities and other groups such as peasant farmers and the urban poor who are also demanding land rights;
  • helping to open up opportunities for dialogue, negotiation and co-operation between the community and government at local and national levels;
  • Enabling forest communities to make use of international legal instruments, bodies and gatherings to strengthen their position versus the state.


Another important network which emerged as an influential lobby for policy reform once Suharto was removed from power, is the Communication Forum for People's Forestry (Forum Komunikasi Kehutanan Masyarakat, FKKM). The group now consists of academics, NGOs, government officials and commercial foresters. Members of the forestry faculty of the prestigious Gajah Mada University in Yogya have been particularly active.

FKKM has evolved since it was founded in September 1997 from being an independent 'think tank' promoting community forestry in Indonesia to become a pressure group lobbying central government on forest policy. It played a leading role in the opposition to the Forestry Act (41/1999) and subsequently lobbied the government intensively in an attempt to ensure that forest communities' rights are recognised and respected in the supporting regulations[16]. One consequence has been that some Forestry Department staff tend to see FKKM as 'the opposition' and are reluctant to engage in dialogue. A past criticism of the FKKM has been its tendency to operate in a 'top-down' fashion by not always including community representatives or indigenous organisations in stakeholder consultations.

FKKM responded by again changing its structure and activities to focus on two areas: decentralisation and conflict resolution. It now has a decentralised structure with local 'nodes' in the regions and a small, central secretariat. Its 2001-2 work programme included comparative studies on how regional autonomy is affecting community-based natural resource management in the 'outer islands' and the implications for conflict resolution; policy dialogue with local administrations and assemblies; regional workshop or conferences on community forestry and conflict resolution; working with other parties, including the timber producers association, on cases of conflict between local communities, the government and the private sector; developing curriculum materials on community forestry with higher education institutions[17].


KpSHK - the Consortium for Supporting Community-based Forest System Management - started up in 1997 as a small group of NGOs and individuals keen to support community based forestry. Since then it has expanded its activities from Lampung and East & West Kalimantan to almost all provinces in Indonesia with 43 members. The consortium pursues its overall aims - to act as an advocate for forest peoples' rights - through a small secretariat based in Bogor, West Java and local organisations carrying out research and community empowerment activities in the field. Its programmes, including institutional strengthening, have received funding from major donor agencies including Ford Foundation, DFID and HIVOS.

The KpSHK secretariat promotes community forestry at national and international level, through links with other networks such as civil society groups belonging to KUDETA (the Coalition for Democratisation of Natural Resources) and the multi-stakeholder forum FKKM. It also garners support from other NGOs, researchers and academics.

The Consortium's name was chosen to emphasise two essential elements of its work. Firstly the phrase 'forest system' acts as a reminder that forests are not just a stand of trees, but the whole area used by forest peoples, including mature forest, secondary forest, fields, lakes, settlements, sacred groves and more which supports the local community. Secondly, the word 'community' stresses that the key players in forest management are local people. Indeed, the main purpose of forest management is to support and benefit local communities[18].

Main groups working on community forestry - national level

Solidarity in South Sumatra

The province of South Sumatra can be divided into three roughly equal zones: the swampy coast with its many small islands; the lowlands where there are many large-scale plantations and associated industries and settlements; the rugged hills which form part of the Barisan range. Much of the natural lowland forest has been cleared including the coastal mangroves. What remains is a mosaic of mature forest, scrub, secondary forest, grassland and agricultural land. In the western highlands, illegal logging and commercial mining have caused serious deforestation and erosion.

While it is common to find environmental NGOs, peasant farmer associations, workers organisations, indigenous peoples' alliances, student groups or civil rights offices at provincial level, it is relatively uncommon to find a place like South Sumatra's provincial capital, Palembang, where there are strong links between all these different types of organisation[19].

The legal aid foundation, LBH Palembang, has helped to foster many of these community groups and NGOs. Over the past decade it has taken up hundreds of land rights cases. Typically, indigenous land holdings in the lowlands are quite small, but local farmers can make a reasonable living by cultivating small plots of rubber and fruit trees, fishing in local rivers and growing rice and vegetables. Commercial logging operations, large-scale timber estates to feed the paper pulp industry and oil palm plantations, plus the transmigration schemes associated with these developments, have had a tremendous impact on this way of life. Some indigenous people have joined resettlement schemes as local transmigrants and work on the plantations; others have drifted to the timber and food processing factories in Palembang and along the River Musi; a few have remained to fight for their rights.

LBH Palembang has encouraged regular local meetings between communities involved in land disputes where they discuss their problems and provide practical support for each other. The KSKP (Solidaritas Kesejahteraan Petani) support network has helped to strengthen the peasant farmers' association in South Sumatra . This, in turn, has played a leading role in the creation of a national federation of such groups (FPSI). At the preparatory stage for the first national indigenous peoples' congress, it was easy for Palembang NGOs to contact local communities who then organised their own meetings to select their representatives. After the congress, South Sumatra was one of the first provinces to set up a local indigenous peoples' organisation, IMASS (Ikatan Masyarakat Adat Sumatera Selatan).

The local branch of the environmental NGO, WALHI, works closely with LBH Palembang and with student organisations from Palembang's universities such as IMPALM - the student environmental group and MAPESRIPALA. These groups have held demonstrations and lobbied the provincial authorities on a number of local issues, including the PT TEL paper pulp plant, the PT WM shrimp farm, PT Tania Selatan's oil palm plantations and the Barisan Tropical Mining gold mine.

The strength of the movement has brought it into conflict with the authorities. In February 2000, dozens of representatives of worker, farmer and student organisations went to Jakarta to protest to parliament and the Peoples Consultative Assembly about 136 land cases in the province, workers' low wages and military intervention in disputes with companies[20]. Four months later, a march through Palembang by hundreds of students, workers and farmers was broken up by police. Demonstrators were attacked and beaten by police. Truckloads of security forces later raided LBH Palembang's office to flush out any supporters hiding there[21].

Such repressive actions have not daunted civil society groups in South Sumatra. For example, they held a large public meeting to mark the end of 2001 at which journalists, lawyers, environmentalist and students representing a number of organisations called for a Freedom of Information Act in Indonesia. They also called on the media to make the local government more accountable to the public, especially over local budgets. The South Sumatra branch of WALHI explained the difficulties in getting reliable information about environmental destruction, including forest losses due to fires, caused by the activities of private and state-owned companies. There were then 75 active cases of conflict between companies and local communities over forests in South Sumatra[22].

Community- based forest management in Wonosobo, Central Java

The case of Wonosobo is unusual because it is an experiment in how policy change can bring about changes in the field[23]. Here local legislation (Perda) is being used as a tool to settle long-standing local disputes over forest management. It is also shows how an alliance of local parties has tried to wrest power over resources from central control. This is only the first step - it only applies to one district and remains to be seen how it works in practice. If successful, the Wonosobo model could provide inspiration for other communities.

Wonosobo is a rural district in Central Java, close to the mountainous Dieng plateau. Much of its 18,896ha of state forest is designated Protection Forest as the hilly uplands are the watershed for several major rivers. Like all other state forest/plantations on Java, this land was controlled by the state-owned forestry company Perum Perhutani. Local people resented the fact that 'state forest' had provided little direct benefit to them over many decades, not least because of Perhutani's centralised bureaucratic structure and its tight restrictions on access to forest land.

The introduction of regional autonomy and the privatisation of state forestry in Java presented new opportunities. Supported by district authorities, local people argued that state forest represents a resource which could improve families' welfare and generate funding for development in Wonosobo, if only it were managed by communities and the local government. They have a point: the people of Wonosobo district already manage more tree-covered land than the local Perhutani unit - over 19,000 ha by 1997-8. This 'community forest' is mostly Albezia sp and Paraserianthes falcataria plantations. These trees are fast-growing, easy to grow and provide wood for fuel and household construction plus foliage which can be used to feed livestock or make compost. In contrast, the 'state forest' largely comprised older, semi-naturalised plantations of pine, teak and remnants of natural forest. Teak only reaches maturity after 30 years, but has a much higher commercial value.

Very little community forest in Wonosobo has been affected by timber raids, even though adjacent state forests have been hard hit by large-scale illegal logging since late 1998. Forestry office data states that nearly 3,500ha of Perhutani forest had been cleared by mid-2000, mostly in operations organised and carried out by outsiders. But field reports suggest that well over half the 'state forest' has been severely damaged or destroyed. Local people feel no responsibility to protect Perhutani plantations and may well participate in the timber raids. Even so, they recognise the value of local forested areas for protecting watersheds and regulating water supplies for irrigated rice cultivation. Sedimentation of local reservoirs and - every rainy season - flooding and landslides are important local issues.

Elements of traditional forest management still persist in some parts of Java, despite centuries of colonial administration, the conversion of most lowland forest for agriculture and the establishment of plantations. The Javanese term wono, incorporated into the names of many villages and towns, can mean forest, paddy fields or orchards since the same land is used to grow trees, rice and other agricultural crops - sometimes in rotation; sometimes by intercropping.

New Perda

Co-operation between local NGOs and district authorities has resulted in a new local regulation for Wonosobo[24]. Perda 22/2001 on Community-Based Forest Resource Management is the culmination of several years of consultations and negotiations between various stakeholders. Wonosobo officials insist that this is a genuine attempt to implement more democratic, equitable resource use and not simply a means of increasing revenues for a hard-pressed local government in a very poor part of Java.

The Yogya-based NGO, ARuPA, carried out an investigation into the raids on state forest land in the Wonosobo area. ARuPA (an acronym roughly translating as the Volunteers' Alliance for Saving Nature) was founded in 1998 as an action committee to promote reform of policy and practice in natural resource management and tenure. Many of its members are students from the forestry faculty of Gajah Mada University who gained some understanding of conflicts over local resources through the practical work in Perhutani forests and plantations as part of their courses. Consequently conflict resolution and sustainable, fair, democratic resource management are high on their agenda. ARuPA has been actively promoting community-based forestry management for the past three years, through publications in Javanese for local farmers and a joint forest management pilot project in Randublatung with Perhutani[25]. The Wonosobo local assembly (DPRD), also concerned about escalating conflicts over state forests in its administrative area and protests from local communities about erosion problems, were impressed by ARuPA's report and invited them to discuss possible solutions. Early meetings proved so constructive that, by August 2000, informal discussions had extended to become a multi-stakeholder forum involving Perhutani and local forestry officials, security forces, community representatives and other groups, including forest farmers. One major sticking point was that the state forestry company wanted to maintain its authority and clung onto the monopoly over commercial forestry operations on Java granted to it by Jakarta. Local assembly representatives (Komisi B DPRD) continued to explore other alternatives with ARuPA and Yayasan Koling, a local NGO, including joint visits to disputed forest areas within the district. Eventually, they decided to make the most of regional autonomy powers to pass new legislation on community-based forest management.

With expert staff from Gajah Mada University, ARuPA drafted a local regulation which was presented to Perhutani and local communities through a formal hearing of the local assembly in November 2000. This was followed by a series of open meetings chaired by the forest forum, FKKM, attended by forest farmers, local government, forestry officials, the press, NGOs and forestry academics. These provided information on how local autonomy was working in different sectors, opinions on the legal basis of forest management and evidence on community-based forest management from other countries, thus providing legitimacy and strengthening support for the proposed legislation. At the same time, members of the group revisited the villages they had studied to discuss the draft regulation. Such meetings generated broad-based discussion and greater understanding of actual conditions and the potential for change within the Wonosobo district.

An initiative to set up a local government-controlled forestry company was rejected in favour of a second attempt to create a community-based system. A new drafting team representing all parties was chosen and set about further consultations. Unfortunately, local communities were more prepared to participate than Perhutani, which only sent low-ranking officials to meetings.

By early 2001, the multi-party Wonosobo Forest Forum (FKPPH) was up and running. Its first move was urge Perhutani and forest farmers alike to observe a six-month moratorium on all logging and forest farming from March to September 2001 so that dialogue could take place. Once again, Perhutani opted out, but other Forum members proceeded to go from village to village encouraging communities to support this initiative and discuss other ways to protect local forests. The final version of the regulation was drawn up by the team and, after consultations, was passed in October 2001. The next stage is participatory mapping to identify suitable pilot areas. To date the system has only been tested on private land, not state or communal forest.

The central element of Perda 22/2001 is that forest land formerly controlled by Perhutani will become 'district forest' under a community-based forest management system. The local regulation covers the roles and responsibilities of the local government, farmers' groups, NGOs and district administrator. It lays down what is meant by community-based forest management and the practicalities of how it will operate, including how the extent of the 'district forest' will be agreed; how forest farmers groups are to be set up; how the management system will be monitored and evaluated. Participation and partnership are important elements in all stages of this process. Agreements between forest farmers and the local government (here represented by the local forestry office) are for an initial 6 year period, renewable to a maximum of 30 years.

Will Perda Wonosobo 22/2001 prove workable or will it need to be revised in the light of experience? Will the newly privatised Perhutani hand over what remains of state forests in the Wonosobo area to become a 'district forest'? Will all parties in Wonosobo be able to work together to draw up forest management plans which are genuinely community-based? Will communities in all parts of Wonosobo - mountains and lowlands - participate? Will there be any tangible results within the initial trial period? Will corrupt local officials seize this opportunity to sell off land formerly classified as 'state forest'? It is far too early to speculate, but some civil society groups and academics are optimistic and many parties will be following developments in Wonosobo.

Agroforestry in Krui, Lampung, Sumatra

The Krui agroforests in West Lampung, Sumatra, are a landmark in the recognition of indigenous (adat) rights by the Indonesian government. This was the first forest land in Indonesia to be designated a Special Purposes Area (Kawasan dengan Tujuan Istimewa, KdTI, later renamed Kawasan untuk Tujuan Khusus, KuTK)[26].

The Pesisir Krui have lived in the hilly coastal region of West Lampung since at least the 14th century. Their livelihood is largely dependent on the commercially valuable fragrant resin (damar) and timber of meranti trees (Shorea javanica). The indigenous inhabitants of fifty or so villages plant and tend these trees - along with rattan, coffee, cloves and fruit trees - to form a traditionally managed mixed forest ecosystem, known as wanatani repong damar. This agroforest supports the community in many ways: it is a source of fuelwood, fish, bushmeat and traditional medicines - for their own use and occasional sale. Some areas are set aside as permanent rice fields. This ecosystem extends over 50,000 ha along a long, narrow strip of land between Bukit Barisan National Park (established during the Dutch colonial period) and the coastal plain.

Most of the Pesisir Krui's adat land was designated 'state forest' and had been allocated for logging in the early 1970s. The forestry minister granted the timber company Bina Lestari a logging concession covering 52,000 ha along the western edge of the National Park in 1981. Bina Lestari limited its operations mainly to the southern part of its concession to avoid conflict with local communities and the Park authorities. The following decade, the forestry authorities divided the Krui forests into three categories: most became Limited Production Forest, since the terrain is too steep for normal logging; some of the steepest slopes and summits were designated Protection Forest; and part could be clear felled and used for agriculture.

Until the local government approved the new land use zoning in 1991 and demarcation began, these areas were only lines on a map. The amount of forest which could be logged was later reduced from 44,120ha to 33,000ha. The 7,800ha of Conversion Forest, located in the most southerly part of the Pesisir Krui's lands, was allocated to an oil palm plantation (PT Karya Canggih Mandiri Utama) and another private company in 1994. The state forestry company Inhutani V was made responsible for forest rehabilitation in parts of the former logging concession.

Logging and plantations threatened to destroy the damar forests and the Pesisir Krui's whole way of life. The local community pressed the authorities to recognise their customary rights and the value of their traditional management system in maintaining forest cover. In this, they had the support of local and national NGOs and national and international forest researchers. Advocacy became more urgent during the 1990s, when companies used the oil palm boom as a pretext to apply for plantation land as a means of getting their hands on Krui's valuable timber.

One of the tactics of civil society groups and reform-minded individuals within the forestry establishment to protect the Pesisir Krui's agroforests was to nominate the indigenous community for the Kalpataru prize. This prestigious national award is presented annually by the environment minister to individuals for outstanding contributions to upholding or improving the quality of Indonesia's environment. In 1997, Jadri Junaidi, a customary leader and head of a Krui clan, was awarded the Kalpataru on behalf of the whole community.

The Kalpataru award helped to convince forestry officials and the local authorities that the Krui's lands were agroforests, not natural forest; that these were economically productive forests and local incomes would suffer if the area became oil palm plantations; and that local communities could manage their own forest resources. But the dilemma for the forestry minister was that recognition of the Pesisir Krui's customary rights would open the floodgates and demands would pour in from other indigenous communities whose lands were classified as 'state forest'. Land reform was not on the Suharto regime's agenda. Djamaluddin's solution (one of his last acts as forestry minister) was to issue a draft decree (which later became SK49/1988) giving special status to 29,000ha of the Krui agroforest.

The Krui case has been widely promoted within Indonesia and internationally as a positive example of both community-based forest management and civil society groups' efforts to effect policy change. Yet it is unique in several ways and is arguably of limited value more generally in Indonesia as a model for sustainable forest management and community activism.

  • There is good evidence from the community, backed by scientific research, that the Krui planted their tree crops long before the state forest was gazetted. So there could be no dispute that this was 'virgin' forest, subject to shifting cultivation;
  • Land is owned individually and managed by families belonging to certain clans, unlike many indigenous communities where traditional tenure is a complex mosaic including communal land;
  • Lampung is close to Java. The Krui agroforests are accessible to forest researchers (and forestry ministers) and community leaders can easily travel to Jakarta to lobby politicians and officials or to gain support from national NGOs.

The Krui story is not all good news. Initially, many of the indigenous community were delighted that their agroforest had been recognised and some of it given protective status, even though it was still classified as state forest. But, before long, the majority rejected the 'special status' compromise and - like many other indigenous groups in Indonesia - demanded recognition of their customary tenure rights over the whole of their lands. In practice, the KdTI/KuTK status means little because none of the rules needed for full implementation have ever been issued. Few other forest peoples have even attempted to gain Special Purposes Area status for their adat land.

Clearing forests for plantations was banned in Lampung even before the national moratorium on forest conversion came into force and the immediate threat of oil palm plantation encroachment on Krui land has been reduced. But the abolition of the Conversion Forest category has brought a new problem. The majority of that forest has now been reallocated to Limited Production (i.e. commercial logging). Meanwhile, local people cannot re-establish agroforest in the remainder: that has become Protection Forest, although it includes a former village. The Pesisir Krui propose a radical change in the way the government has classified their forest lands. The Limited Production, Protection and Special Status forest categories would be replaced by two types of forest: hutan marga or clan forest, where people can live and work; and hutan suaka or protection forest i.e. Bukit Barisan National Park.

Certainly change is needed. In the Post-Suharto era, internal disputes within the Pesisir Krui community have become more evident. Pressure on forest land for repong damar has given rise to inter-clan rivalries. These could, ultimately, be as great a threat to the traditional forest management system as appropriation of their lands by the state or private sector. Staff from national and local NGOs, researchers from the International Centre for Agroforestry and the University of Lampung and local government representatives are currently investigating these problems and attempting to establish some means of resolving conflicts.

The Behoa people of Central Sulawesi

The Behoa (also known as Besoa or Katu) are one of the many indigenous forest peoples who still follow a largely traditional lifestyle in Central Sulawesi[27]. However, in the 1970s, their customary lands and those of the To Bada, To Lindu, To Pekureha and To Kulawi were designated Protected Areas by the government in the shape of the Department of Forestry. Plans to create Lore Lindu National Park were announced in 1982, but were only realised in 1993. The forest-covered rugged hills and fertile valleys were treated as if they were empty land. There was no consultation with local communities. At the same time, the government gave licences to plantation companies to clear adat forest belonging to these peoples outside the Park.

Lore Lindu National Park covers 229,000ha of the Donggala and Poso districts of Central Sulawesi. The area has a high biodiversity with many endemic species, such as the anoa (Bubulus sp), cuscus (Phalanger celebensis), Tarsius sp, Celebes macaque (Macaca tonkeana) and Celebes civet. It contains lowland and highland rainforest and some 60,000 people live within its boundaries. The majority are indigenous. They make a living by rice farming in the valleys and the rotational use of forests for maize, coffee, timber, damar resin, rattan, bamboo and medicinal plants. The Behoa use a wide range of local varieties of food crops: 33 types of rice; 8 of yam; 8 of maize and 6 of the vegetable root crop talas[28].

Ceremonies and rituals must be held for each part of the forest clearance and cultivation cycle. The tenure and land use system is quite complex to outsiders. Primary forest (called pandulu by the Behoa) is held communally and usually kept intact. It is used for hunting and collection of medicinal plants and rattans. Lopo is land which was once farmed (hinoe) but has been allowed to return to forest. Secondary forest which is more than two years old (lopo ntua) is considered communal land which anyone can use for farming. Young secondary forest (lopo lehe) is held by individuals. Holu, land which was recently farmed but has not yet started to return to forest, belongs to the person who originally cleared it, but may be loaned to other families to grow crops.

Local communities are prohibited by law from practising their traditional land-use systems within National Parks. These regulations have been the cause of conflict in various parts of the country (most recently Rawa Aopa Watumohai National Park in neighbouring SE Sulawesi) due to rigid enforcement by nature conservation authorities. Local authorities blamed indigenous people for deforestation within the National Park and sought to resettle them outside its boundaries. This became part of the Central Sulawesi Integrated Development and Conservation Plan, funded by the ADB, in the mid-1990s. The head of the local planning board announced in late 1997 that 24,000 families from 60 villages in the park would be moved and resettled elsewhere in the province. He described this as necessary "to promote the welfare of the indigenous people and ensure that they do no pose any more threat to the Park's natural resources"[29] .

According to local NGOs, indigenous villagers in Lore Lindu have been subjected to intimidation by the park authorities, including interrogation and detention. Their crops have been destroyed and the rattan and timber confiscated. 'Shifting cultivators', 'national park vandals' and 'forest squatters' are some of the terms used in the recent past by government officials to describe the indigenous population. In the eyes of the authorities, the Behoa were newcomers to the area. However, this indigenous community had been forced to leave its adat lands by the Dutch authorities early last century and again by the newly independent Indonesian government during the turbulent political period in the early 1950s[30]. Each time they came back to reclaim their ancestral lands.

The Behoa have been helped in their struggle to hold onto their customary lands through the support of local NGOs. This relationship developed from a campaign in the early 1990s to prevent the construction of a hydro-electric power station and dam on the edge of the National Park. Student groups from the university in the provincial capital, Palu, with Behoa community leaders held numerous protests about the resettlement plans outside government offices and the provincial assembly. Posters read "Do not destroy the peace of the Katu", "Free us from intimidation from Park patrols", "Don't torture us with your National Park"[31]. The Palu-based group Tanah Merdeka pioneered participatory community mapping in Central Sulawesi of Behoa lands at Katu and Doda and used this information to set up negotiations with the National Park authorities.

Head of Lore Lindu National Park, Banjar Yulianto Laban, is one of a new breed of park official who publicly acknowledges indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge and management skills. In a ground-breaking decision in late 1999, he agreed with local government officials and community leaders that the 227 people of Katu could stay on their land and manage it according to adat law. Initially the agreement was for only for 1,178ha, but it now covers a total of 6,659ha of the Park. This means that people of Katu and Doda can continue to make a living from selling timber, rattan and damar resin plus farming forest land to meet their needs.

The Behoa case is a success story, but it is only a limited success. This is only one of several indigenous communities threatened with resettlement from Lore Lindu. Only part of their lands have been acknowledged and only with an agreement over use rights, not a recognition of adat tenure. Moreover, in late 2000, the local planning office appeared to be reneging on the agreement since the ADB was withholding Rp7.5 trillion (US$750 million) in case its project needs 'redesigning' as a result of the National Park head's stand[32].

Revitalising customary laws to protect forests,
Bentek, North Lombok

The village of Bentek, in North Lombok, is an example of 'Adat in Action'. The indigenous Sasak community has seized opportunities presented by political changes and regional autonomy legislation to revive customary institutions and laws as a means of protecting their forest[33].

Bentek lies on the edge of the Monggal forest, part of the 125,000ha of forest covering the northern slopes of Mount Rinjani, the volcano which dominates the island of Lombok. Traditionally, Sasak communities make a living by a combination of agroforestry and rice farming, cultivating coffee, cocoa, cloves, bananas and other fruit trees and crops.

Like most Sasaks, the majority of people in Bentek practise a form of Islam strongly influenced by Hindu and animist elements. They depend on the forests to regulate the water supply for these crops and as a source of materials for building their homes and household goods. Under customary law, forest cannot be bought or sold and must be managed collectively. Villagers are allowed to cut timber as long as it is for their own consumption rather than for sale. They are also allowed to collect forest products, such as firewood and rattan, by agreement with the village's customary council.

The Bentek village council comprises three kinds of authority: the administrative leader (pemusungan); customary guardians (pemangku) and religious leaders (penghulu). This is far more than substituting customary terms for bureaucratic positions such as village head. The Bentek community had, in 1999, rejected the standard model of village governance imposed by Jakarta in the 1970s and is returning to traditional institutions. They now have a customary court (Majelis Krama Adat Desa) to settle violations of adat law and teams of people responsible for protecting forests, pest control and maintaining water quality.

Despite their successes in controlling illegal logging and maintaining forest cover, the community has no formal legal recognition yet of its adat land, institutions and practices and local government forestry staff still do not fully acknowledge the authority of its leaders. The Monggal forest is officially classified as state forest zoned for logging.

The impact of commercial logging has reinforced the community's belief in the importance of forest conservation. PT Angkawijaya Raya Timber (ART) was granted a 10,000ha concession in the Monggal forest in 1990. Within five years, the villagers started to experience water shortages in the dry season. Springs and streams dried up; rice and coffee production dropped. In the rainy season, logging trails created by heavy equipment turned into streams; paddy fields and plantations flooded. The worst floods occurred in February 1999 when hundreds of hectares of land in Bentek and Jenggala were flooded. Three traditional burial grounds were damaged. People feared their homes would be swept away and crops worth billions of rupiah were ruined. They carried out their own investigation and came to the conclusion that the logging company was to blame.

Some 700 local people attacked PTART's base camp in May 1999, ransacking and burning offices, transport and equipment causing an estimated Rp1.5 bn (US$150,000) damage. They then demanded that the local government officially close the logging operations down. Jakarta has still not acted on local officials' recommendation to withdraw the logging permit (a source of local concern and resentment), but PT Angkawijaya has never returned.

However, illegal logging replaced commercial operations. These were well-organised raids: more than five trucks per day carried stolen timber to the provincial capital Mataram 60 km away. Bribery and corruption were suspected since these roads passed police and military posts, as well as local administration and forestry offices in several sub-districts. Village heads and community leaders from 25 villages in five sub-districts around Mount Rinjani took matters into their own hands. In 2000, they gathered to discuss the issue and to see how customary controls and sanctions could be used to prevent forest destruction by outsiders and members of their own communities. Officials from the local forestry offices implicated in the illegal logging also attended.

This meeting agreed to revive a system of customary laws which protect the local environment. These awiq-awiq not only cover illegal logging, but burning to clear forests and using poison to fish. Violations of adat law incur progressively severe sanctions. Someone guilty of illegal logging must provide 10 seedlings for every tree felled and pay a symbolic fine of Rp100,000 (US$10). For a second offence, the law breaker must take part in a ritual known as menyowok in addition to paying a fine. This ceremony to appease nature is carried out by customary leader (pemangku) in the forest in front of the whole community. A goat or chicken is killed and the offender is marked on the forehead with sacrificial blood (sembek). Fruits, other food and betel leaves are given as offerings. The severity of the penalty depends on the nature of the crime - whether the forest was logged for someone's own use or for profit. Each hamlet within the village has its own forest protection team who ensure that everyone knows and keeps to the rules.

The Bentek principles of forest management are:

  • There is no ownership of forests;
  • Collective (not individual) management;
  • Planting species which have conservation value;
  • Fruits and flowers can be collected, but not timber;
  • No digging, burning or clearing is allowed (except of shrubs);
  • Each group must have its own management rules (awiq-awiq);
  • Priority should be given to the poor.

This application of adat has proved remarkably effective. Apparently it is fear of public humiliation rather than the fines which is the major deterrent. So far, the menyowok ceremony has been used on only two occasions - one involving a group of eleven people caught clearing Protection Forest to make fields. The people of Bentek have formed their own adat security agency, Lang Lang Jagat Titik Guna (LLJTG). A recent success has been the seizure of 18 cubic meters of illegal timber, sawn into blocks and awaiting collection to be smuggled out of the village.

Although powerful, adat controls are not perfect. People who offend more than twice are dealt with through conventional courts. Illegal logging still takes place in forests well away from Bentek village and is rampant in neighbouring areas where villages have not returned to adat social controls. However, Bentek representatives are convinced that other people will learn from their example.

The Bentek example is attracting attention and support from local civil society groups and international donors. For example, USAID and AusAid funded training for 40 local people in participatory mapping in July 2000. It also feeds into the growing indigenous peoples' movement in Lombok and further afield. Bentek community representatives work with YLKMP, a Mataram-based rural development NGO and a forum of people from local villages, NGOs, government and enterprises meets monthly in an initiative instigated by the North Lombok association of indigenous communities (Perkat Ombara). All of this contributes to increased recognition of the value of community-based forest management.

Logging to save the forest: Pejangki, Riau

The forests in the buffer zone of Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park, on the Riau - Jambi border in Sumatra are threatened by logging concessions, oil palm plantations, illegal logging and a possible coal mine. Indigenous communities are in a critical position. Some people want to keep their adat land; others are pro-investor[34].

The village of Pejangki in Riau is a case in point. This is one of nine villages (locally called kebatinan) in the Siberida area which share the same history and culture. The 64 families live in simple houses mainly near the R. Tanaku. Their adat lands cover 7,014 ha extending south towards the National Park. The area around the settlement is used for agroforestry - with extensive native rubber plantations and some mixed fruit plots - and a small amount of farming. The hilly southern half is largely rainforest.

The Pejangki community faces two main threats. Firstly, a substantial swathe of adat forest has been allocated to PT Arvena Sepakat - an oil palm plantation. So far, the company has only planted the core zone, but it wants extend the plantation by setting up a smallholder scheme. This would take over all the village's agroforest and its rice fields. Representatives of PT Arvena, accompanied by government officials, have come to Pejangki with promises of 'plasma' (oil palm plots) to convince them to sign over their land. Meanwhile, some villagers are trying to reclaim parts of the oil palm plantation by planting rubber and fruit trees or clearing the land for cultivation. The second threat is illegal logging. The extreme southern part of Pejangki's adat forest is almost pristine as the terrain is too steep for heavy logging equipment. The more accessible parts were being logged by outsiders.

The community was divided about what to do. For many generations, they had been largely self-sufficient - selling rubber and other non-timber forest products to buy goods which they could not produce themselves. But, with the encroaching pressures of modern life, people needed more money to pay for clothing, schooling and transport. Rubber prices had hit a low. The only options seemed to be to give up their agroforests and farmland to the plantation company in return for a stake in its outgrower scheme or to join the loggers and strip their own forests.

The NGO community only found out about the dilemma facing the people of Pejangki when a representative attended the national indigenous peoples' congress in Jakarta in March 1999. One of the very few natural resource NGOs in Riau - a relatively new group called Hakiki, went to investigate. The situation was more urgent than it had appeared. There had been extensive logging within Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park and its surrounding forests and illegal sawmills had sprung up all over the place[35]. The village head had set up a logging co-operative, PT Makmur Jaya, but this was only a front for a much bigger logging company. Villagers were paid the ridiculously low sum of Rp4,000/m3 (less than US$0.5) for valuable tropical hardwoods such as Shorea sp (meranti). Some villagers were already involved in legal and illegal logging of the adat forest. A solution was needed quickly.

Hakiki started by helping the Penjangki community to document the extent of their customary land and natural resources through participatory community mapping followed by a complete inventory. Once they had produced the map, the villagers had a much better idea of their position and were more determined to hold on to their adat forest.

Together with Hakiki, they came up with a radical proposal. They would set up a community logging co-operative and their own sawmill. This would allow them - rather than outsiders - to decide how much timber was felled and to get a much better price for it. They would start by using trees already felled and bought, for a bargain price, the 800 tree trunks cut by PT Makmur Jaya. Hakiki used their field evidence of deforestation within the National Park to convince the World Bank to provide a grant of Rp50 million (approx US$5,000) to buy a community sawmill and chainsaws. If this approach works, Hakiki hopes to spread the initiative to neighbouring areas.

Forests and communities in West Kalimantan

Most of West Kalimantan[36] was originally covered in tropical forest, but extensive areas - especially in the lowlands - have been cleared by irresponsible commercial logging operations, plantation companies and transmigration sites over the last thirty years[37]. West Kalimantan was hit hard by forest fires in 1982 and 1997, but annual cycles of burning to clear land can further reduce or degrade forest cover. Illegal logging and the illegal log trade across the Malaysian border have accelerated in recent years. At current rates of forest exploitation, most of the forest in West Kalimantan outside protected areas could have gone within ten years . This deforestation not only represents the loss of biodiversity, but the destruction of local people's sustainable livelihoods and the loss of their cultural identities.

This gloomy picture provides the background for a thriving assemblage of civil society organisations which has genuinely empowered the indigenous Dayak community. At the heart of this social movement lies Pancur Kasih, a local NGO established twenty years ago by a small group of young, idealistic Dayaks. The founder, A. R. Mecer, believed that the way to a better future for Dayaks lay in solidarity, self-help and critical awareness. They started by setting up a church-based school in Pontianak to provide a basic education for local children. Income from school fees was ploughed back into the foundation, which expanded into a cluster of schools and a series of social projects in Dayak villages in the interior on health, food production and income generation. PK then established what has become one of Indonesia's most successful Credit Unions with hundreds of local branches providing cheap, easy loans to tens of thousands of members.

As the organisation became more experienced and financially secure, (through its own operations and support from international donors including churches, and environmental NGOs), Pancur Kasih spawned a number of separate organisations. Around 20 groups employing some 250 staff now come under Pancur Kasih's umbrella (more correctly known as KPMD, the Consortium for the Empowerment of Dayak Peoples). It includes the publishing company which produces the monthly news magazine Kalimantan Review; a co-operative of Dayak rubber farmers which promotes economic independence, local control of natural resources and sustainable development; the legal empowerment group LBBT (Lembaga Bela Banua Talino) and SHK-Kalbar which researches and promotes sustainable Dayak resource management systems. Each organisation operates autonomously in its own specific field on a day-to-day basis, but members of the consortium share the same vision and work together synergistically as the account below shows. Many of these groups also provide training for other organisations, so their effect is multiplied far beyond Pontianak.

The Institute of Dayakology (originally IDRD, now ID) originated as an informal study group within Pancur Kasih to discuss political and cultural issues. It has now systematically recorded and researched the cultures of thousands of Dayak communities throughout West Kalimantan. This is far more than an academic survey of belief systems, rituals, customary laws and community practices that were doomed to extinction. The aim has always been to increase indigenous communities' own awareness of and pride in their rich cultural heritage; to gain recognition and respect for their knowledge and skills from outsiders (including the Indonesian government); to strengthen their sense of identity so that these elements can be passed on to future generations. However, the political aspect of ID's work could only be carried out under the heading of 'research' until the downfall of Suharto.

One measure of the success of this tactic has been the revival, since 1998, of large customary gatherings where different branches of clans meet to carry out important rituals and to celebrate. Sharing music, stories, food and dancing are central to Dayak cultures. Such events also facilitate discussions about common problems and initiatives to tackle them, further strengthening the Dayak social movement. ID has also permeated the formal education system in West Kalimantan, by making the most of the statutory obligation to include some 'local content' within teaching of the primary school national curriculum. It arranges for clan elders and customary leaders to come into classrooms as 'living libraries' of their oral tradition. ID has also publishes a range of story books for primary school children based on local legends.

It is hardly surprising that the West Kalimantan adat peoples' alliance, AMA, was one of the first coalitions of indigenous groups in Indonesia to spring up after Suharto was forced to resign the presidency. It grew out of a meeting of several hundred Dayak representatives from all over Kalimantan who gathered in Pontianak, through the facilitation of PK and the community mapping group PPSDAK, to discuss how to protect their traditional systems of land and resource management. West Kalimantan delegates then went on to present their views to the local government and to insist these were included in development planning. AMA, PPSDAK and other PK groups, together with JaPHaMA, were leading players in initiating the first national indigenous congress, which gave rise to AMAN. AMA continues to be one of the strongest members of AMAN and is now reaching out to non-Dayak indigenous groups including the Melayu, Chinese and even the Madurese communities. It is also pioneering indigenous women's groups.

The Pancur Kasih consortium has played a leading role in the spread of the participatory mapping as a tool for indigenous communities to demand recognition of their land rights. It invited expert trainers to give training to a group of young Dayaks who, as the PPSDAK mapping unit, went on not only to help communities in West Kalimantan to map their lands, but to train people from other areas in this techniques and, eventually, to train more trainers. In this way, it created the national network of participatory mapping groups known as JKPP.

In addition to providing a visual representation of their adat lands and resources, the process of participatory mapping strengthens communities and can revitalise adat. Too often, mapping revealed that communities' adat lands were much smaller than the local people realised (due to encroachment by companies or land sales). What forest remained was often fragmented. This made them aware that they had to protect what remained if they were to give their children and grandchildren any inheritance.

Mapping can also help communities to negotiate with outsiders, including companies. One activist told what happened when an oil palm company wanted to take over his village lands for a plantation. The community was strongly against this plan, but the governor and local police came to persuade them to give up their land. After the visitors had showed the villagers a map of the proposed plantation and described the benefits they would gain from an oil palm outgrower scheme, the villagers responded by showing the officials their own community map. They explained that the company was welcome to use any spare land but, as they could see, all the land was being used in ways which already provided them with a good living. They politely suggested the company sought land in some neighbouring villages - knowing that they too had mapped their lands. The oil palm plantation was never established!

Throughout Pancur Kasih's expansion, its overall aim remains that Dayak people should determine their own futures by taking control of social, economic and political factors and by reclaiming their rights to their own property. It does not describe itself as a political organisation, but its influence in the political arena has become even more apparent since regional autonomy. Years of cumulative work by Dayaks at grass-roots level on legal empowerment, sustainable resource management, income generation, legal rights and revitalising adat is paying dividends in terms of local democracy. Well before the legislation came into effect, members of the Consortium embarked on a programme of several months of field visits to villages throughout the province. They explained what the new legislation contained and discussed the potential opportunities and challenges which laws 22 and 25/1999 presented. Based on this input, the NGOs and community representatives could present their views to local government. More than that, they have provided training for members of local assemblies on good governance and financial accountability and, in two districts, drafted local regulations which acknowledge and protect indigenous land and natural resource rights.

Work is in progress on an updated English version of a book on West Kalimantan community forest management systems by Pilin M & Petebang E, 1999, Hutan; Darah dan Jiwa Dayak, SHK Kalbar.

Land classifications of the Simpakng Dayak

Rima magokng Distant forest only used for hunting and collection of certain forest products
RimaReserve forest nearer villages, used for timber for construction and rattan collection
JamihAgricultural land
Jamih mongutRecently harvested fields (1-5yrs)
Jamih malakng Fertile fields (up to 7 yrs)
Jamih muntuh Old fields (7-25 years)
MuhRice fields
Kambokng Fruit gardens (trees producing coconuts, guavas, jackfruit, betel nut)
Kebotn gotah Agroforests dominated by native rubber trees
TamawakngForest which was once village gardens
Kebun tanamPlantations e.g. rubber, coffee or rattan
Tonah colop torun pusakaSacred land/forest which must be left untouched
Kambokng pasarBurial ground/cemetery
Kambokng lobohCurrent village or settlement
Are SungeWater source, river bank or lake margin

Source: Pilin M, 1999, Hutan; Darah dan Jiwa Dayak, SHK WKal & interviews with other staff, Nov 2000.

Challenges to community forest management

There is a growing consensus among NGOs, academics, development agencies and forward-looking governments that forest communities hold the key to the future of the forests. This comes from research into cases like those outlined in this section, and applies not just to Indonesia or tropical countries, but in forested regions across the globe. Research into community forestry systems has found that secure rights to well-managed forest resources can contribute significantly to rural livelihoods as well as conservation[38].

Secure rights for forest communities to manage their lands and resources could prove to be the single most effective means of countering the variety of threats facing Indonesia's forests. Indeed, community-managed agro-forests may be the forests of the future.

"…swidden agriculture and rubber cultivation are mutually supportive. This enrichment planting leads, supported by natural succession, to complex agroforestry systems, providing not only harvests from the planted crops but also timber and minor forest products from wild species. While natural forests disappear, agroforestry systems will remain as the only forest-like structures ".

(F. Momberg, Resource Management of Land Dayaks in West Kalimantan, 1992)

The challenges faced by communities wanting to retain, construct or develop community-based management schemes are enormous. They include the wider political and economic imperatives of international financial institutions which prioritise revenues from timber; central government policies entrenched in the past; rampant corruption; the threat of violence and intimidation arising from the weak judicial system coupled with a military and police force which continues to act with impunity. The problems are even greater in the disputed territories of Aceh and West Papua and in areas of conflict like Maluku and Poso.

Decentralisation has brought its own challenges: a new breed of logging entrepreneur has emerged to replace or work alongside the conglomerates owned by the 'old guard' timber barons. These have teamed up with military, police and corrupt government officials to get every last penny they can out of the forests. Forest peoples face internal challenges too. Community-based forest management is not automatically more equitable than state-owned or private sector forestry operations. Decision-making within traditional indigenous communities may be hierarchical and undemocratic. Women, the poorest members of the community - particularly the landless or low status families - and seasonal forest users may not have a say in how resources are apportioned.

Indigenous societies are dynamic: changing as the societies around them change. People in traditional communities who practised subsistence forest farming and had little need for cash even a generation ago now want money to pay for clothing, medical care, outboard motors for canoes (and diesel for them), school uniforms and books. Transport and accommodation costs incurred during visits to lobby local and central government officials are becoming a common budget item for forest peoples.

Young people, educated in government, Muslim or Christian schools, may no longer share the traditional belief systems of their parents or grandparents or their views on development. Community elders of widely separated indigenous communities such as the Dayaks of Kalimantan and the Mentawais of Siberut tell similar stories of disaffected young men who return from schooling in provincial capitals with Reebok trainers and foreign cigarettes and no respect for their former way of life.

The forests on which these traditional lifestyles depend have also changed. Large tracts of forest formerly reserved intact as insurance for hard times or as a legacy for future generations have been at best logged over and at worst cleared for plantations. The valuable resins, rattans and forest fruits which used to be traded are becoming scarcer, as are the medicinal plants used by shamans for traditional healing. As the forests disappear, so do the skills and knowledge of indigenous communities.

Indigenous communities are not the only ones living in and around what remains of Indonesia's forests. Migrants from other areas - even other islands - peasant farmers dispossessed by plantations and urbanisation, transmigrants and miners are all laying claim to these lands and resources. Some may have lived there for several generations. Negotiations between all these groups must take place to avoid conflict.

Indonesia's forest peoples are well aware of the need to adapt their institutions to a changing world and are discussing such issues as identity, sovereignty and legal representation both within their own communities and with others. They are using new opportunities provided by the regional and national indigenous peoples' alliances (AMA and AMAN) to move these debates forward.

Civil society organisations and a growing number of donor agencies in Indonesia and abroad recognise that consistent support for forest peoples to develop their own strong, dynamic, inclusive and democratic organisations is vital to gain wider support for community-based forest management and effect a shift away from 'the timber-mining' regime that has proven so disastrous until now.

"….can indigenous peoples maintain the balance between their societies and environments when they have rising populations and increasing demands for cash and services? Many development planners are sceptical of the ability of indigenous communities to manage their resources prudently under such changed circumstances, and use this as an excuse for maintaining control of their lands and institutions. The argument is a difficult one. If, on the one hand, there is unmistakable evidence of environmental decline in many forest peoples' areas where they are exerting increased pressure on their resources, this has often occurred where their social institutions and environments are simultaneously under heavy pressure from outside. On the other hand, the overall record of government agencies has been far worse and undermines the claim that forests are best entrusted to their care."

(M. Colchester, Sustaining the Forests, 1992)


The following recommendations for the international lending organisations, the Indonesian government, foreign investors and consumers have been compiled from various sources including Indonesian environmental NGOs, peasants organisations, the indigenous peoples' organisation, AMAN, and international NGOs and researchers. They are aimed at gaining recognition for the right of communities to own and manage and make decisions about their customary forest areas. This requires changing the whole nature and culture of the forest bureaucracy in Indonesia as well as fundamental transformation of the political and economic landscape.

Experience of community-based forestry in other Asian and Pacific countries, including India, Nepal, Thailand, PNG and the Philippines indicates the following necessary conditions for change:

  • a strong political commitment which prioritises the rural poor;
  • a move away from the custodial, policing approach of most forest bureaucracies;
  • community empowerment and a change in the balance of power;
  • openness to new ways of decision-making and forest management;
  • mutual respect and trust between local communities, government and other stakeholders;
  • networks between empowered communities;
  • multi-stakeholder dialogue and participation;
  • fundamental policy changes towards ownership by and access to forest resources by local
  • communities.

Local priorities and new skills
In Indonesia this means replacing the uniform centralised policy-making with a mosaic of different models of forest management, determined by local priorities. These must be negotiated with local communities, not imposed by officials at central or provincial level. This will involve developing new skills, including training for local officials who have only ever been accustomed to accepting orders from Jakarta and imposing these on communities. A new generation of forestry officials need to be recruited and educated, including people from local forest-dwelling communities. It means that governments - local as well as central - will have to learn to listen to communities and NGOs and treat them as equal partners in decision-making.

Forest classification
The existing classification of forests as state land needs to be changed. As well as legal reform this requires a systematic, nationwide re-mapping of adat and other lands. A conflict resolution mechanism acceptable to all stakeholders is needed for settling boundary disputes. A start could be made by establishing a conflict resolution agency under the terms of the November 2001 MPR decree on agrarian renewal and natural resource management.

Logging Moratorium
Until these changes are made, the remaining forests need urgent protection, so that forest communities are not further marginalised. This means an immediate moratorium on industrial logging, a radical downsizing of the wood-based industries and a suspension of all timber concessions. It means a ban on mining or exploration in forests and a total ban on converting forests to other purposes, including industrial tree plantations. This may mean a short term cut in revenues for central and local governments, but it will prevent immediate and longer term losses for forest communities.

Past injustices and corporate crimes
Past injustices need to be addressed too. The ill-treatment of countless communities deprived of forests and other lands without fair compensation, and without prior informed consent, should be recognised and mutually agreed steps taken to rectify past wrongs. The authorities must act against companies who have committed environmental crimes like illegal logging and starting forest fires, but also those who have damaged the lands and livelihoods of local communities, or have used the security forces to silence opposition to their projects.

Aid and debt
The international finance community should take immediate action to halt all activities that are destructive to forests and forest peoples. The IFIs should stop promoting exports of oil palm, timber and wood products and pulp and paper as the key to solving Indonesia's economic crisis. Instead they should prioritise the interests of forest peoples and work for socially and environmentally sustainable development in all aid programmes. The IFIs should also acknowledge the damaging role they have played in the past by financing the Suharto regime, especially since a large portion of loans were embezzled by members of the elite. They should take responsibility for this by cancelling this part of the debt, and in future work towards reducing debt-dependency. They should provide grants, not loans and ensure that all aid packages are subject to wide public consultation and agreement.

Forest aid should be aimed towards creating space for forest communities to develop and strengthen their organisations and alliances.

Foreign governments and corporate damage
Foreign governments should take responsibility for the damaging effects of mines, plantations, pulp mills and other projects in forest areas, by imposing sanctions on companies and banks investing in such projects. This may mean new laws so that legal action can be taken against companies damaging local peoples' livelihoods in the investors' home countries. They should also lobby for the drafting of international laws to curb the damaging practices of large corporations who take advantage of weak national laws to gain access to lands and resources belonging to forest peoples.

Wider reforms
Forest policy reform will need legal reform - including changes to the Constitution and to existing laws which are used to deny forest peoples their rights and livelihoods. There must be genuine community involvement in this process and local decision-making about natural resources should be the cornerstone of good governance. Effective legal reform in turn requires a major effort to stamp out corrupt practices.

Electoral reform is also needed. Under the current system, governors and Bupatis owe most loyalty to the political parties who select them. There would be greater democracy and accountability to their local constituents if they were elected directly.

Civilian rule
The powers of the police and military should be reined in. This means adequate funding for the security forces so that they no longer have the excuse of needing to earn extra income from 'protecting' mines, plantations and logging operations. It also includes ending the territorial system of the army structure: the Kodim, Korem and Kodam commands, which places soldiers in the regions. In a democratic system, there is no place for the territorial structure: instead security and law and order should be in the hands of the police.

The judiciary and the police must carve out a new position for themselves in society as enforcers of the law rather than supporting their political masters or whoever pays the most. The military's political role must be ended.

Aceh and West Papua
Wider political reform includes adopting a change in approach towards the disputed territories of Aceh and West Papua, where there are strong demands for self-determination. In both areas the military-led approach of trying to silence opposition through force, while introducing 'special autonomy' laws has failed. The appalling level of human rights violations against the local populations must end and a genuine, open-ended dialogue restored. There can be no security for many of the forest peoples in these regions until there is a move away from violent repression towards peaceful negotiation and until past injustices are addressed.

Specific steps
To the international lending community: (multilateral and bilateral donors)

  • Listen to and act upon the concerns of forest peoples and civil society organisations;
  • Support efforts which foster development of community forest management;
  • Provide grants, not loans;
  • Stop working with the Indonesian government and forestry businesses on programmes aimed at improving concession management - these programmes do not address the need to focus on community rights, address overcapacity etc.;
  • Stop ECA funding for pulp, oil palm and other programmes which destroy forests and violate community rights;
  • Improve donor co-ordination and adopt a more participatory approach to identifying, monitoring and evaluating forest-related projects;
  • Commit to an international convention on corporate accountability;
  • Open talks on debt cancellation with all stakeholders;
  • Acknowledge past mistakes;
  • Direct grants to:
      - support programmes which promote legal reforms, wider political reforms, anti-corruption, curbing military and police actions, opening dialogue in West Papua and Aceh, to create favourable conditions for community forest management;
      - support programmes which strengthen or help develop CBFM projects;
      - support programmes which raise awareness of existing CBFM systems and promote local, national and international exchange;
      - support programmes which provide incentives for forest communities to manage their resources sustainably;
  • Stop promoting exports of oil palm, timber and wood products, paper & pulp and minerals as a means of solving Indonesia's economic crisis;
  • Apply policies on land rights, environmental protection and resettlememt (IMF, World Bank, ADB and others) in all financial assistance to Indonesia, including structural adjustment loans;
  • Suspend investments in oil palm, paper and pulp plantations and mines which destroy forests and violate forest peoples' rights.

To the Indonesian government

  • Impose logging moratorium on industrial operations in natural forests;
  • Maintain total ban on log exports;
  • Close loopholes in forest conversion ban;
  • Follow up on commitment to act on illegal logging and illegal trade by drafting action points aimed at strengthening community rights;
  • Devise, with partner governments, credible, independently verified systems to prove the raw materials for Indonesian plywood, fibre board and pulp and paper come from legal sources;
  • Refocus on IDCF action points on adat rights, not just illegal logging and law enforcement;
  • Use illegal logging issue to open debate about need for wider reform, to recognise adat rights and to change forest classifications;
  • Enforce existing laws that regulate the use of fire for land clearing; identify and prosecute companies responsible for illegal burning;
  • Examine ways in which the 2001 MPR decree on agrarian renewal and natural resources can be applied in a positive way for local communities;
  • Shut down corrupt, unsustainable timber industries;
  • Resume investigations and prosecutions of timber barons, pursue compensation claims from affected communities (with international support);
  • Resume investigations and legal actions against the Suharto family to secure compensation for loss of livelihoods for forests and other communities who lost livelihoods;
  • Draft and enact legislation requiring all public employees, including members of MPR, DPR, DPRD, Pemda, the military and police to make public details of their ownership of or involvement in any forestry operations, including wood processing and plantation companies, with a view to banning the military and police from holding interests in forestry businesses;
  • Use Reforestation Fund for reforestation/agroforestry schemes under community management;
  • Initiate revision of educational materials to include positive examples of CBFM;
  • Remove terms which denigrate or discriminate against indigenous peoples;
  • Sign international agreements which uphold the rights of indigenous peoples: eg ILO Convention 169.

Footnotes to Part III

  1. This section draws heavily from Sirait et al, ICRAF, Oct 1999
  2. From Sirait, 1999 and pers com. See also Raharjo, 2001.
  3. This is not the same as the policy decision on small-scale logging concession permits (IPHH) made by a director general within the Department of Forestry that year. Unlike IPHH, HKM permits are not limited to 100 hectares.
  4. Antara 5/Oct/00
  5. Sirait, 1999
  6. Kompas 17/Apr/01
  7. Kompas 4/Sept/00
  8. Bisnis Indonesia 24/Jul/01
  9. Suara Pembaruan 2/May/00; Jakarta Post 31/Jul/00
  10. Media Indonesia 31/Oct/01
  11. PHBM can be taken to mean Pengelolaan Hutan Bersama Masyarakat or Pengelolaan Hutan Berbasis Masyarakat, depending on the speaker and the audience.
  12. Kompas 28/Dec/01
  13. Pikiran Rakyat 25/Feb/02
  14. See DTE Special Issue Oct 1999
  15. Nababan, 2002
  16. FKKM profile (undated)
  17. FKKM minutes email 11/Dec/2000
  18. Taken from address to Lokakarya dan Dialog Nasional Promosi Sistem Hutan Kerakyatan 3-7 July 2000 by Muayat Ali Mushi, KpSHK
  19. Information in this section comes from interviews with several Palembang activists
  20. Tempo Interaktif 3/Feb/00
  21. WALHInews 13/Jun/00
  22. Email from AJI, 29/Dec/01
  23. This section draws on information provided in interviews with ARuPA, C. Krustanto (Head of Komisi B, DPRD Wonosobo) and Jurnal Studi Kebijakan PSDA Vol 2/No.1/Oct-Dec 2001. Wonosobo: Facing decentralised forest management, a paper in English by Irfan Bachtiar, is available at
  24. The full text of this local regulation is available in English on in Bahasa Indonesia on
  25. The farmers news bulletin and comic Wasis (in Bahasa Jawa) and Negosiasi Tanpa Henti (Endless Negotiations) a video on the Randublatung pilot project (in Bahasa Indonesia & Bahasa Jawa with notes in English) are available from ARuPA secretariat, Karangwuni H-5A, Jl Kaliurang Km 5, Yogyakarta 55281, Central Java, Indonesia; website
  26. Information in this section is taken from LATIN, 2000, Menyelamatkan Wilayah Kelola Rakyat; LATIN, 2000, Perambah Hutan atau Kambing Hitam; Fay & Sirait, 1999, supplemented by brief interviews with Suwito & Cholis Yung (LATIN & local community, Mar 1999) and Buyung ( WATALA, Oct 2001)
  27. Much of this section draws on a WALHI Sulteng factsheet on Lore Lindu (Sept 2001) and interviews with Pak Banjar and Tanah Merdeka staff in Nov 2000.
  28. Kompas 7Mar/01
  29. Jakarta Post 27/Dec/97
  30. Kompas 14/Jun/99
  31. Surya 23/Dec/97
  32. Republika Online 17/Jan/00; Suara Pembaruan 16/Nov/00
  33. Information in this section is drawn from an article by A. Rulianto & Mo. S. Khafid in Tempo July 31 - August 6, 2001, supplemented with short interviews with Putrawadi and R. Agus Bakrie from the Bentek community (pers com Nov 2001).
  34. Information from interview with staff and board member of Hakiki, plus local map.
  35. Only one third of the forest in Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park remains intact, according to WWF (Media Indonesia 16/Aug/00)
  36. This section is compiled from interviews with A. R. Mercer, Paulus Florus, Jon Bamba, Stefanus Djuweng, Stefanus Masiun, Mateus Pilin, Mina, Ita Natalia, Pak Nazarius and others in West Kalimantan between 1999 and 2001. For a detailed account see Alcorn J & Royo N (eds), 2000, Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience, a PeFoR Discussion Paper, BSP-Kemala.
  37. Holmes, 2000
  38. Nugroho, 1999


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EIA/Telapak, 1999,The Final Cut

EIA/Telapak, 2000, Update on the Final Cut

European Commission, 2001, Policy Dialogue for Creation of a Conducive Environment for Sustainable Management of All Types of Forests in Indonesia, Position Paper presented on behalf of Donors to 11th CGI meeting, April 2001, Jakarta.

Fay C & Sirait, 1999, Reforming the Reformists, a paper presented to the American Association of Rural Sociology, Chicago

Fay C, Sirait M & Kusworo A, 2000, Getting the Boundaries Right, ICRAF

Fauzi N, 9/March/1999, Hutan Untuk Rakyat, Hutan Siapa?

Fried S & Soentoro T, 2000, Export Credit Agency Finance in Indonesia, EDF/Bioforum

Friends of the Earth USA, 2000,The IMF: Selling the Environment Short

FWI/GFW, (draft), 2002, The State of the Forest: Indonesia. Forest Watch Indonesia and Global Forest Watch, Bogor and Washington DC.

Gautam M et al, 2000, The Challenges of World Bank Involvement in Forests, World Bank Operations Evaluation Department

Ginting L, 22/April/01, Illegal Logging: A Brief Clarification, WALHI Press release

Ginting L, 7/Aug/00 Mengugat Politik Konversi Hutan Alam Indonesia.

Government of Indonesia/FAO, 1990, Indonesia's National Forestry Action Plan

Holmes D, 2000 (July draft), Deforestation in Indonesia - a Review of the Situation in 1999, World Bank

Indonesian Business Data Center, 1994, Forestry Indonesia (2nd Edition)

International Labour Organisation Convention 169 on tribal and indigenous peoples' rights

Irfan, Bachtiar, 2001, Wonosobo: Facing decentralised forest management,

Johnson, B, 1984, The Great Fire of Borneo: report of a visit to Kalimantan Timur a year later, WWF International

Jurnal Studi Kebijakan PSDA Vol 2/No.1/Oct-Dec 2001

KpSHK, 2000, Ketika Rakyat Mengelola Hutan

KMAN, 1999, in DTE, Special Issue Oct/99

LATIN, 2000, Menyelamatkan Wilayah Kelola Rakyat

LATIN, 2000, Perambah Hutan atau Kambing Hitam

MacKinnon K, Hatta G, Halik H & Mangalik A, 1996, The Ecology of Kalimantan, Vol III The Ecology of Indonesia, Periplus

Mainhardt H, 2001, IMF Intervention in Indonesia, WWF

Marr C, 2000,'Canadian miners in Indonesia' in Undermining the Forests, the need to control transnational mining companies. A Canadian case study, FPP/WRM/PIP Links

Meijaard, E & Dennis, R (1997) Forest Fires in Indonesia; Bibliography and Background Information, WWF Netherlands

Ministry of Environment & Konphalindo, 1997, Indonesia Country Report on the Implementation of Agenda 21

Ministry of the Environment & Konphalindo, 1994, Keanekaragaman Hayati di Indonesia

Momberg, F, Resource Management of Land Dayaks in West Kalimantan, Dissertation Berlin 1992 Muayat Ali Mushi, 2000, address to Lokakarya dan Dialog Nasional Promosi Sistem Hutan Kerakyatan 3-7 July 2000, KpSHK Co-ordinator

Munggoro D (ed), 1999, Intervensi Perhutanan Sosial, LATIN

Nababan A, 2002, Revitalisasi Hutan Adat untuk Menghentikan Penebangan Hutan 'Illegal' di Indonesia, paper for AMAN

NRI, 1998, Forest Sector Review: a report prepared for NRI (draft)

Nugroho T, 1999, 'Lokakarya Internasional Pengelolaan Sumber Daya Alam Berbasis Masyarakat', in Munggoro D. (ed), Intervensi Perhutanan Sosial, LATIN

Obidzinski K., 2001,Operational nature of illegal logging in Indonesia and its intensification in recent times, University of Amsterdam

Peluso N, 1992, Rich Forests, Poor People, Berkeley University of California Press

Peluso N, 1990,'A History of State Forest Management in Java', in Poffenberger M. (ed), 1990, Keepers of the Forest Kumarian Press

Poffenberger M, (ed), 1990, Keepers of the Forest: Land Management Alternatives in South East Asia Kumarian Press

Potter L, & Lee J, 1998, Tree Planting in Indonesia: Trends Impacts and Directions. Final report of a consultancy for CIFOR

Raharjo D, 2001, Beberapa Catatan tentang proses Kebijakan Program Hutan Kemasyarakatan di Indonesia. Paper for Ford Foundation

Renstra, 2000, Rencana stratejik pembangunan kehutanan dan perkebunan 2000-2004, Government of Indonesia.

RePPProT 1990 The Land Resources of Indonesia: a National Overview

Rulianto, A & Khafid Mo S, Tempo July 31 - August 6, 2001

Ruwindrijarto A et al, 2000, Menaman Bencana / Planting Disaster, Telapak /Puti Jaji/Yayasan Madanika

Sargeant H, 2001, Vegetation Fires in Sumatra Indonesia, FFPCP EU/MoF

Schwartz A, 1999, A Nation in Waiting, Allen & Unwin

Scotland N, Fraser A & Jewell N, Dec 1999 draft, Roundwood supply & demand in the forest sector in Indonesia, Report No. PFM/EC/99/08

Seymour F, 2000, The Right Conditions, WRI

Sirait M, 1999, Tiga Kebijakan Utama Dalam Pengelolaan Sumber Daya Alam Berbasis Rakyat, a paper presented at YLBHI workshop

Sirait M, Fay C, & Kusworo A, 2001, Kajian Kebijakan Hak-Hak Masyarakat Adat di Indonesia, ICRAF/LATIN

Sirait M, Fay C & Kusworo A, 1999, Bagaimana Hak-hak Masyarakat Adat dalam Mengelola Sumber daya Alam diatur? Draft paper, ICRAF

Siscawati M, 1999, Oil Palm Plantation in Indonesia, a paper presented at the World Rainforest Movement meeting, the Netherlands

Sunderlin W, 1998, Between Danger and Opportunity: Indonesia's forests in an era of economic crisis & political change, CIFOR

Sunderlin W, 1999, Effects of Economic Crisis and Political Change on Indonesia's Forest Sector 1997-99, CIFOR

Sunderlin W & Resosudarmo I, 1999, Rates and Causes of Deforestation in Indonesia, CIFOR Occasional Paper 9

Sunderlin W, ResosudarmoI, Rianto E & Angelsen A, 2000, The effect of Indonesia's economic crisis on small farmers and natural forest cover in the outer islands, CIFOR Occasional Paper No 28.

WALHI, 2000, Indonesian Forestry: How to move forward, position paper for the CGIforestry meeting, January 2000.

WALHI/YLBHI, 1992, Mistaking Plantations for Indonesia's Tropical Forest

Wakker E, 1998, Introducing zero-burning techniques in Indonesia's oil palm plantations, AidEnvironment

Wakker E, 2000, Funding Forest Destruction, AidEnvironment

World Bank, 1993, Indonesia - Production Forestry: Achieving Sustainability and Competitiveness (draft)

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