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Communities and forest management in East Kalimantan: Pathway to environmental stability

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:10 AM
Contributors: Poffenberger, M., B. McGean

SUMMARY: Indonesia possesses 60 percent of all forested lands in Southeast Asia and is the third largest tropical forested area in the world. 75 percent of land area is under official forest cover. Indonesia forest ecosystems have over 10,000 species of trees, 1,500 types of birds, and 500 varieties of mammals. Forest management policy has been a topic of heated discussion in Indonesia in recent decades. National planners have viewed forest utilization as a vehicle to stimulate economic growth and as a land pool to absorb Java's growing population. Migrants seek forestland for farming. Businesspersons see profit-generating opportunities. Non-governmental organizations perceive the richness of the cultural and biological diversity and hope to preserve it. Indigenous peoples view the forest as their ancestral home, the foundation of their traditions and their continuity. This report provides a preliminary discussion of selected research findings from Indonesian members of the Southeast Asia Sustainable Forest Management Network. East Kalimantan case studies report changes in the environment and society occurring in study sites through human-forest interactions. Forest utilization practices by concessionaires, developers, migrants, and local populations have led to a rapid process of forest degradation, especially near in high pressure areas nearer roads and urban centers. While some of degraded forest lands can be developed for settlements, agriculture, and fast growing timber plantations, a sizable majority might best be left to regenerate naturally under the protection of local communities. The Dayak communities possess practical knowledge of forest ecology and regenerative processes based on centuries of experience with long rotation agriculture. Traditional wisdom combined with more recent scientific experimentation indicates rapid regrowth can be achieved if cutting and burning are controlled. The productivity of valuable timber and non-timber forest products can be greatly increased through enrichment planting and other manipulations of the natural environment. The authors suggest that planners, academics, development specialists should empower forest people with legal custodial authority to heal disturbed forest ecosystems and make them once again ecologically rich and economically productive.

Author(s): Poffenberger, M. , B. McGean

Publication Date: 1993

Location: East Kalimantan, Indonesia

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