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Indonesia - When making decisions about land use, involving diverse members of the community can help ensure fairer outcomes for all and sustainability of the project beyond the implementation period.

This is one of the key ideas behind the promotion of community participation as a safeguard for implementing REDD+: schemes to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, while fostering conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

In Indonesia, the REDD+ safeguards articulated through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been put into practice via a national scheme known as PRISAI (Prinsip, Kriteria, Indikator, Safeguards Indonesia; Indonesian Safeguards, Indicators, Criteria and Principles) to ensure equitable distribution of benefits.

PRISAI has so far been tested in four provinces, including the densely forested province of Jambi on the island of Sumatra. Scientists from CIFOR together with NGO network KKI WARSI (Komunitas Konservasi Indonesia WARSI; Indonesian Conservation Community WARSI) visited the area of Bukit Panjang Rantau Bayur – Bujang Raba for short — to see how communities in Jambi are being involved in and benefiting from interventions designed to protect local forests.

They organized three focus group discussions with local people, one each with an exclusive focus on men, women, and youth. The diverse groups expressed some common concerns about equal access to benefits from forest protection interventions.

   A participant speaks during a focus group discussion with men about forest conservation intervention in Jambi, Indonesia. Building understanding and finding solutions takes time, and needs to involve disparate groups, the discussion found. CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira

BUILDING COMMON UNDERSTANDING

In a focus group discussion, men spoke mostly about their involvement in an agroforestry initiative to develop a community forest and a nursery. Despite the initiative’s best efforts for inclusion, the discussion highlighted that problems remain in unequal access to information and resources.

In keeping with the values of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), the push to establish community forest (Hutan Desa) in the area in 2011 aimed to involve all members of the community. However, many local people were initially hesitant, as they were afraid the change in tenure status would exclude them from using the land.

After six months of negotiations, a solution was proposed whereby ‘utilization zones’ were created under the community forest title for villagers to cultivate, so long as they replanted cleared trees. At the same time, the nursery initiative to grow rubber, cacao and cardamom encouraged full community involvement.

   Daily life for men in Jambi: Taking children to bathe in the river. CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira
   Daily life for men in Jambi: Buying vegetables at the market. CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira

However, even after a door-knocking campaign by the Community Forest Management Group (Kelompok Pengelola Hutan Desa, KPHK) to distribute cacao and cardamom seedlings, men in the focus group discussion reported that many had not received information, and said that only certain people in the group could access the seedlings. Some knew about the project but assumed that seedlings were limited.

The experience shows that the process of informing, building common understanding, and seeking solutions takes time and should involve different groups who might have different interests, even within the same community. This can help to ensure more effective implementation of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and equitable distribution of benefits for REDD+.

   Women, during a discussion, shared their experiences in establishing a savings and loans cooperative, and the challenges they faced in running it. CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira

RESPECT LOCAL KNOWLEDGE AND INSTITUTIONS

Women from the hamlet of Sungai Letung in a focus group discussion shared their experiences in establishing and maintaining a micro-finance group.

Their savings and loans cooperative, Koperasi Simpan Pinjam (KSP), was initiated as a way for members to borrow money in times of need. Members can access micro-credit to be reinvested in agriculture, among other ventures. When extra funding is available, non-members can access micro-credit with higher interest rates, pending sufficient collateral.

In discussion, the women shared challenges that they faced in implementing the initiative, one of which is the limited pool of funding, while many are in need of loans.

   CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira
   CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira
   Women’s daily lives in Jambi. Benefit-sharing mechanisms that are already culturally adapted are more likely to be accepted by the local community, a discussion found. CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira

KSP activities are integrated with the monthly yasinan, a social gathering in which the women pray and recite the Koran. At the end of the gathering, KSP management informs members about the cooperative’s financial position, loan payment status, and other matters. These rules and regulations were discussed and agreed on in meetings by members.

REDD+ safeguards require the project implementer to respect local knowledge and institutions.
Incorporating benefit-sharing into mechanisms that are already institutionally established and culturally adapted makes them more likely to be considered legitimate and accountable by the local community. The experience of the women’s micro-finance group corroborates this.

   During the focus group discussion, the young people in Jambi expressed they want their voices to be heard. CIFOR Photos/Icaro Cooke Vieira

EQUAL ACCESS TO INFORMATION

Young people in a third focus group discussion shared their experiences with various government projects in their village.

Many had worked as laborers in paving roads and installing drainage systems. They reported that access to jobs seemed to depend on how closely related they were to local authorities and project contractors.

They said that most village meetings, where projects were discussed, targeted adults. Meanwhile, as youths they were only considered for their physical contribution to the implementation of projects, they said.

   CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira

Although it is not common to categorize young people as a marginal group, they can be marginalized in village programs, particularly when they are not involved in decision-making processes. Youth in the discussion said that they wanted their voices and aspirations to be heard.

This is a valuable lesson for REDD+ safeguard design and implementation: ensure full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders. As the group discussion heard, participation by youth in this process requires better attention.

This research is continuing in Indonesia, Peru and Burkina Faso. To view more photos from Jambi, view the full album here.

   Under a REDD+ scheme, the community is managing this garden in Bujang Raba, Jambi, and developing it into multi-tiered agroforestry. The model hopes to provide sustainable revenue for five villages, producing rubber, coffee, cinnamon, cardamom and ‘dragon’s blood’ (jernang) – while keeping the primary forest intact. CIFOR Photo/Icaro Cooke Vieira
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For more information on this topic, please contact Shintia Dian Arwida at s.arwida@cgiar.org.
This research was supported by DFID Knowfor.
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Topic(s) :   REDD+ Community forestry Gender
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