The evolving role of tropical forests for local livelihoods in Indonesia


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Locals along Malinau River in East Kalimantan say village life is improving, thanks to development projects, logging and mining activities, but they are concerned about the declining quality of their forests and the environment. The trade-off is negative to their livelihoods, especially in the long-term. Forest communities, often living in remote areas, support both development and conservation efforts. Giving greater control to local people in managing tropical forests, e.g. through adaptive and collaborative management, therefore offers both environmental and development benefits. CIFOR scientist Imam Basuki gave a presentation on these findings in a parallel session of the inaugral International Conference of Indonesian Forestry Researchers (INAFOR), held from 5 – 7 December 2011 in Bogor, Indonesia. INAFOR aims to provide a knowledge-sharing forum for Indonesia’s forestry scientists from governmental agencies or the private sector, and is planned as a preparatory forum for Indonesia’s increased involvement in IUFRO (the International Union of Forest Research Organisations).

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The evolving role of tropical forests for local livelihoods in Indonesia

  1. 1. The evolving role of tropical forests for local livelihoods in Indonesia Imam Basuki; Sheil, D; Padmanaba, M; Liswanti, N; Mulcahy, G; Wan, M International Conference of Indonesia Forestry Researchers – Bogor, 6 December 2011
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. Forests, development and livelihoods • Forests’ goods and services are important for millions of people across the tropics. (Byron & Arnold 1999; World Bank 2008; Kainer et al. 2009) • Overall impacts of development are often unclear and large numbers of people living in forested areas remain poor. (Scherr et al. 2003; Dudley et al. 2008; Sunderlin et al. 2008) • Forests, climate change and competition – can forests be sustainable and alleviate poverty?
  4. 4. Malinau: changes and uncertainty • The monetary crisis of 1997 and reformation • Palm oil and other commodities prospecting by private investors. (Sheil et al. 2006; Sandker et al. 2007; Dudley et al. 2008) • Decentralisation increases local authority over timber and plantation concessions. (Barr et al. 2006; Moeliono 2006; Wollenberg 2006; Colfer et al. 2008; Wunder et al. 2008; Moeliono et al. 2009) Researchers can ask local views to highlight and characterize the +/- trends, and their impacts.
  5. 5. Objectives• To identify and explore key changes in the role of forests and local livelihoods.• Identifying important trends/events as perceived by the people themselves.• To examine and discuss what these changing perceptions imply for conservation and development
  6. 6. Research Sites & Methods
  7. 7. Research siteThe district covers 39,800 km2— with < 3 person/ km2 in itsmountainous topography.(Basuki & Sheil 2005; BPS Kaltim 2009)Over 90% of Malinau districtremains forested, of which19,000 km2 is productionforests.
  8. 8. Research site From 2004 to 2009, Malinau District’s economic growth from 1.24% to 8.96%. Ethnic groups: Merap, Kenyah and Punan (Kaskija 2002) Villagers living upstream and downstream of the Malinau River rely differently on forests.Source: BPS Kab. Malinau 2010 (Sheil et al. 2006)
  9. 9. Methods• Measuring change in forests’ importance • 26 groups from 7 villages • Scoring exercises on forest and other landscapes• Identifying trends/events and their impacts • Spider-gram exercises• Exploring changes in livelihoods and forests • Questionnaires: trends/events, impacts and people’s adaptation
  10. 10. Methods
  11. 11. Results & Discussion
  12. 12. Importance of forests• The significance of forest is declining for all communities• Most of the villagers, as in 1999, still considered forest as the most important land type 30 25 20 15 10 1999 5 2008 0
  13. 13. Events affecting livelihoods and forests• There are five main influencing trends/events to forest and livelihood• Others: resettlement, endemic human diseases, the monetary crisis of 1998, new democratic process, shifts in the seasons, conflicts etc. 35 30 25 20 Woman 15 Man 10 5 0 Development Companies Floods Decreasing Decreasing Others projects activities rice yield eaglewood
  14. 14. Development projects• While the development projects improved village facilities, villagers perceived that this was at the expense of forest resources
  15. 15. Logging and mining• Villagers explained that the companies’ activities brought tradeoffs: • Livelihoods (+ income, skills, education) • Forests and environmental degradation (- eaglewood, timber, rattan, bushmeat, access, and + pollution)
  16. 16. Floods• Two major floods in 1999 and 2006 increased local people’s use of the forest for food and construction materials.• Villagers upstream considered human disease as a more important impact because the village had no health facilities.
  17. 17. Decreasing rice yield• Plant pests and diseases significantly affect crops.• Upstream villagers adapt to forest food and products
  18. 18. Decreasing eaglewood• Yields of eaglewood have been decreasing leading to a significant decrease in their income.• Villagers compensate with selling rattan, bush meat and agriculture.
  19. 19. Implications• Despite the many positive trends in livelihood most informants feel • While local people are not anti-development, they are increasingly concerned about environmental impacts and long-term consequences• This study suggests that local people will give more support to development projects that respect and maintain their access to forest
  20. 20. Implications• A greater formal role in forest management would provide opportunities for the villagers to use their forest resources for their own development (Sheil et al. 2006).• The extent and quality of forests are declining and local people, though concerned, have not been able to prevent this  • Funds and skills to support customary protected forests. • Forest-cover as a desirable part of the long-term land-use plan, also in respect of the needs and aspirations of local people.
  21. 21. Conclusions• Local people perceive forests as becoming less significant with the forest loss, degradation and problems of access• Local knowledge, culture and livelihoods can be beneficially integrated with forest management• With existing local and global support for forest conservation, decision makers still have opportunities to optimise the tradeoffs of conservation and development
  22. 22. ~Thank you~