Framing up the community-centred future of peatland management

Experts share knowledge from long-term research in Indonesia and beyond
, Wednesday, 8 Feb 2023
Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Ricky Martin/CIFOR

Indonesia has the third-largest area of biodiversity-rich tropical forests in the world. The archipelago is considered one of the world’s 17 ‘megadiverse’ countries and houses two of the 25 global biodiversity ‘hotspots’. In 2015, however, the country experienced its worst forest fire disaster in almost two decades. In September and October that year, carbon emissions released by the fires reached 11.3 million tons per day – higher than the emissions of the entire European Union, which released 8.9 million tons daily over the same period.

In response to the disaster – and as part of wider efforts to restore 14 million hectares of degraded land, including two million hectares of peatlands – the Korean and Indonesian governments have developed a peatland restoration project which focuses on the ‘3Rs’: rewetting, revegetation, and revitalization. Activities include rewetting infrastructure, revegetating over 200 hectares with tree planting, and land revitalization in 10 villages surrounding the project site, as well as the creation of a small peatland education centre.

“We believe that this peatland restoration project will help create a sustainable ecosystem and have a productive impact on the community,” said Junkyu Cho, Korean Co-Director of the Korea-Indonesia Forest Cooperation Center (KIFC), during a symposium to share knowledge and experience gained from peatland restoration initiatives in several locations across Indonesia, on 7 December 2022 at CIFOR’s Bogor campus. The international symposium also aimed to enhance the network of researchers involved in peatland restoration and governance.

The research team, which hails from Korea’s National Institute of Forest Science (NIFoS) and the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), will develop a model for restoring peatlands and other degraded lands in Indonesia in ways that make the most of science and technology and improve local livelihoods.

“We hope that various issues, such as climate change adaptation, nature-based solutions, and bioeconomy will be explored under the rubric of peatlands,” said Hyungsoon Choi, the director of NIFoS’ Global Forestry Research Division. The researchers are also helping to develop sustainable community-based reforestation and enterprises, said CIFOR-ICRAF Senior Scientist Himlal Baral.

During the symposium, Baral also shared information on CIFOR-ICRAF’s long-term Sustainable Community-based Reforestation and Enterprises (SCORE) project, which runs for the same period as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and provides valuable opportunities for research. The study involves identifying areas for restoration, and for planting sustainable timber and non-timber forest products. “We start with small demonstration trials, and we hope to scale up and achieve long-term impacts,” he said, adding that smart agroforestry is one of the options for restoration.

Nisa Novita, from local NGO Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN), shared some of her research into the mitigation potential of natural climate solutions for Indonesia. Her team found that the country offers a dramatic opportunity to contribute to tackling climate change by increasing carbon sequestration and storage through the protection, improved management, and restoration of drylands, peatlands, and mangrove ecosystems. “Protecting, managing, and restoring Indonesia’s wetlands is key to achieving the country’s emissions reduction target by 2030,” she said.

Several presenters shared models for cost-effective restoration. A-Ram Yang of NIFoS’ Global Forestry Division discussed a visit to the Perigi peatland landscape in South Sumatra in September 2022. Meanwhile, a team from Korea’s Kookmin University shared their experience assessing ecosystem services in North Korea’s forests with a view to adapting these for use in Indonesia.

Budi Leksono, a senior researcher at the Research Center for Plant Conservation and the Forestry, National Research, and Innovation Agency (BRIN), spoke of the potential of genetic improvement to serve restoration goals. “The use of improved seeds for plantation forests has been proven to increase the productivity and quality of forest products,” he said. “In accordance with the goal of restoration in Indonesia to restore trees and forests to degraded forest landscapes on a large scale, it should also be applied to the landscape restoration program to increase the added value of the land, and will have an impact on increasing ecological resilience and productivity.”

On a similar note, in a research collaboration with CIFOR-ICRAF, scientists at Sriwijaya University (UNSRI) developed a model for landscape restoration to be applied to wide range of species of  high economic value, including Jelutung (Dyera costulata), Belangeran (Shorea balangeran), Nyamplung (Calophyllum inophyllum) and Malapari (Pongamia pinnata). One of the scientists, Agus Suwignyo, said that “the use of improved seeds for landscape restoration will have an impact on people’s welfare if this is also followed by implementing a planting pattern that is in accordance with the conditions of the land and the needs of the local community.”

Participating farmers also chose their own preferred species, such as jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), avocado (Persea americana), mango (Mangifera indica), nangkadak (a hybrid of Artocarpus heterophillus and Artocarpus integer), sapodilla (Manilkara zapota), oranges (Citrus sp.), soursop (Annona muricata), rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) and betel or areca palm (Areca catechu). From 2018 to 2020, UNSRI helped local farmers to develop smart agrosilvofishery, improved rice cultivation, introduce other economical rice crops, plant trees, and cultivate various local fish species.

The method showed positive results. “During the long dry season in 2018, the surrounding area was burned by other farmers, but our demo plot area was not burned,” said Suwignyo. “This year, we scaled up the area to 10 hectares.” The story echoed a common theme within the symposium: the importance of well-planned, multidisciplinary, evidence-based restoration that puts both people and nature first.

 

This research was supported by the National Institute of Forest Science, Republic of Korea; Centre for Forest Biotechnology and Tree Improvement of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry; Tropical Rainforest Reforestation Center of Mulawarman University; University of Muhammadiyah Palangkaraya; Center of Excellence for Peatland Research at Sriwijaya University.

Copyright policy:
We want you to share Forests News content, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). This means you are free to redistribute our material for non-commercial purposes. All we ask is that you give Forests News appropriate credit and link to the original Forests News content, indicate if changes were made, and distribute your contributions under the same Creative Commons license. You must notify Forests News if you repost, reprint or reuse our materials by contacting forestsnews@cgiar.org.




For many Indigenous communities, land titles aren’t the same as tenure security | Center for International Forestry Research

For many Indigenous communities, land titles aren’t the same as tenure security

In communities’ visions of a secure future, good governance, transparency, and respect for customary rights matter more than a piece of paper
, Monday, 6 Feb 2023
Women resin transporters, walk as carry resin from the fields to the village, for one kilo they earn Rp. 600, – and usually they can carry fifty kilos one way in Penengahan village, Pesisir Barat regency, Lampung province, Indonesia. Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/CIFOR

With international climate negotiations putting Indigenous Peoples and other local communities in the spotlight for climate funding, more attention is being paid to protecting those groups’ rights to their land and forest.

That often takes the form of land titling programs, but titles alone don’t guarantee rights. And while tenure security can make communities more secure, exactly what that means varies from place to place, according to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF).

“I think a lot of people still believe that land titles grant tenure security, and it’s hard to get away from this idea,” said CIFOR-ICRAF principal scientist Anne Larson. “Data show that people often consider a piece of paper reassuring — a sign of legitimacy meaning that others will respect their rights. But anyone who has worked in this field for very long knows how limited a title can be.”

Larson has seen cases in which a newly titled community’s leader has sold off forest rights to the highest bidder, or an Indigenous community has won title only to have government agencies fail to support its efforts to defend itself against settlers who invade its land.

“It’s frustrating to share in the victory of seeing a title granted to an Indigenous community that has been fighting for it for so long, only to see all the apparent advantages of having that title practically eroded by the time it is delivered,” she said.

So what do communities expect from land tenure?

“In a study that included communities in Indonesia, Uganda and Peru, we found that many things matter for the well-being of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but secure tenure is the foundation,” Larsen said. “The study shows how multiple factors that influence well-being are interconnected.”

If a title does not ensure tenure security, however, what does?

Visions of the future

When Larson and her colleagues dug into what forest dwellers mean by tenure security, they found that it varies from place to place but with important common threads.

They used a method called participatory prospective analysis, in which people involved in tenure issues — community members, government representatives, members of non-governmental organizations and academics — created future scenarios involving land and forests.

The result, Larson said, was a more comprehensive understanding of how tenure relates to the livelihoods, identity, and the overall well-being of local communities.

The three countries were chosen because they reflected various tenure models, from ownership of forest resources by Indigenous or traditional communities to arrangements in which communities and state entities share forest management.

Multiple workshops were held in the three countries in 2015 and 2016, leading the participants through a five-step process. In the first step, they defined their situation, answering questions such as: ‘What is the future of tenure security in this region 20 years from now?’

Once that was defined, they identified factors that could have a positive or negative impact on forest and land tenure. They then examined how those factors affected each other, to identify the most influential or ‘driving’ forces — the ones that could lead to a domino effect

After determining what those drivers would look like if they were positive or negative, the participants chose the most logical combinations of factors to create a variety of different potential future scenarios. They built narratives around those, and in Peru, an artist produced drawings of each. The groups then created action plans to work toward their desired futures.

Examples of the drawing of an optimistic and pessimistic scenario from the Peru sites. Illustrations by Lesky Zamora Rios (watercolor on paper and digitized).

Context and history matter

Communities in the regions chosen for the study have different types of tenure and face various pressures from outside their territories, and the scenarios the workshop participants developed show that local characteristics and history are important.

In Peru’s Loreto and Madre de Dios regions, the government has been granting titles to Indigenous communities, but many communities still lack titles, and overlapping claims abound. Communities do not have rights to subsoil resources, such as oil and minerals, and can use forest resources but cannot own them.

In positive future scenarios, workshop participants stressed coordination between national and local governments and between the government and communities, a central role for Indigenous Peoples, transparency, effective monitoring, and governments with sufficient capacities and resources. Negative scenarios, which represented backsliding in rights, included elements such as a lack of government coordination, lack of interest in Indigenous issues and corruption.

In Indonesia’s biodiversity-rich Maluku region, much of the forest is managed by communities under a customary system, while in the Lampung province of Sumatra, the expansion of commercial plantations led to a tenure reform under which communities manage state forest areas. As in Peru, overlapping claims are a source of conflict in both places.

Positive visions of the future included consistent and transparent policies, government support for communities and respect for customary rights, and a greater role for women in managing forest resources. Negative scenarios included unclear policies, forest degradation, inadequate budgets, poor coordination, and lack of collaborative forest management.

In Uganda, workshops were held in three regions: Lamwo, where forests are managed through customary, clan-based institutions; Masindi, with a mix of private, government-managed, and communal forests; and Kibaale, where most forests are on private land.

Positive scenarios stressed the importance of collaboration between government and communities, trained government staff, adequate funding, available information, and highly participatory policy development. Negative visions of the future were characterized by corruption, lack of government support and funding, unclear policies, political favouritism, and lack of community participation in forest management. The published study includes a model of factors that influence security.

The scenarios clearly show that for forest dwellers, legal rights are only one aspect of tenure security, Larson said. Government officials and others must also listen to communities’ needs and help them bring their visions of the future to fruition, taking into account the different factors that make that possible in each place.

“Our research findings suggest that communities’ visions of a positive future depend on factors besides titles, especially community governance, the role of the state and the relationship between communities and the state,” she added. “A title will only bring security if other conditions are in place, and although those conditions have some general characteristics, such as organized communities, they also are specific to a place’s context and history.”

What does this mean for scholars and practitioners of community and Indigenous land rights? “It means deeper engagement with Indigenous Peoples and local communities,” she said, “as well as the importance of listening to peoples’ needs and visions for the future, supporting their self-determination to act on these and fostering the enabling conditions in each specific context.”


The Global Comparative Study on Forest Tenure Reform, carried out by the Center for International Forestry (CIFOR), was funded by the European Commission and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), with technical support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

This study was part of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the CGIAR Research Program on Forest, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which was led by CIFOR.

 

Copyright policy:
We want you to share Forests News content, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). This means you are free to redistribute our material for non-commercial purposes. All we ask is that you give Forests News appropriate credit and link to the original Forests News content, indicate if changes were made, and distribute your contributions under the same Creative Commons license. You must notify Forests News if you repost, reprint or reuse our materials by contacting forestsnews@cgiar.org.




Policy makers in Indonesia choose community participation as best for the future | Center for International Forestry Research

Policy makers in Indonesia choose community participation as best for the future

Decision makers in West Kalimantan, Indonesia believe that mining, agriculture and oil palm developments are inevitable, but they now know that the negative impacts don’t have to be.
, Thursday, 20 Jun 2013
The most desirable scenario chosen by communities in land use planning workshops is one where the government involves communities in all aspects of land and forest management. Achmad Ibrahim

The most desirable scenario chosen by communities in land use planning workshops is one where the government involves communities in all aspects of land and forest management. Achmad Ibrahim/CIFOR

BOGOR, Indonesia (20 June, 2013)_Decision makers in West Kalimantan, Indonesia believe that mining, agriculture and oil palm developments are inevitable, but they now know that the negative impacts don’t have to be.

Rather, local leaders in the one of the only forested areas left in the Indonesian province have begun learning how to anticipate and prepare for the economic and environmental impacts of potential investments, thanks to a participatory scenario planning method developed as part of the Collaborative Land-use Planning and Sustainable Institutional Arrangements (CoLUPSIA) project.

“Huge investment is likely to bring both opportunities and challenges for development and there needs to be frank debate,” said Bayuni Shantiko, scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research and author of a report on the use of a method called Participatory Prospective Analysis developed by CIRAD.

Bayuni and his colleagues used Participatory Prospective Analysis in a series of workshops in Kapuas Hulu, a regency in West Kalimantan. The workshops brought together a broad range of local stakeholders, including community leaders, businesses, provincial government officials, international NGOs and local civil society groups. Through scenario building exercises and analysis, participants explored how land use and natural resource management could evolve over the next 20 years, and how these changes can be influenced.

“Use of this method gives people a chance to voice their hopes and fears and to create a shared vision of the future,” Bayuni said in a presentation at the 14th International Conference of the Commons in Kitafuji, Japan.

The aim of the exercise is to improve land management policy by helping policy makers construct “scenarios” in which they envisage the future impacts of development. The idea is that, by anticipating and preparing for possible ramifications, decision makers in Kapuas Hulu can avoid the negative impacts associated with past land investment in Indonesia, such as widespread deforestation and conflicts over rights and resources.

Toward an alternative future

Kapuas Hulu spans more than 3 million hectares and contains two national parks, Danau Sentarum and Betung Kerihun. The parks house an array of forest types, fish, mammal and bird species, including up to three percent of Borneo’s total orangutan population.

The regency is also home to more than 220,000 people, mostly indigenous Iban and Embaloh Dayak in the hills and Malay communities in the wetlands, who depend on fish and forest resources for their livelihoods.

However, in 2007, 19 palm oil companies were given permits for Kapuas Hulu covering 350,000 hectares. Some of these companies have failed to give the communities any compensation or left without providing the employment and better living standards they had promised, previous CIFOR research has found.

This was exactly the type of scenario that participants in the workshops were keen to avoid.

In the workshops, participants drew up four plausible scenarios for the future, which they then discussed.

Participants chose this scenario of community participation as the most desirable future. Bayuni Shantiko/CIFOR

Participants chose this scenario of community participation as the most desirable future. Bayuni Shantiko/CIFOR

The most desirable scenario selected was one in which the government involves communities in all aspects of land and forest management, and the customary system is acknowledged and accommodated.

The least desirable was a continuation of the present, where government takes a top-down approach to land use planning and communities’ land rights remain unclear or ignored.

When the majority of participants had found a common vision, they listed actions or solutions that would make the scenario a reality, such as establishing collaborative assessment of land conditions, designing new land allocation and legally-binding land use plans that all stakeholders are in consensus with.

An honest debate

But reaching that stage took some time, given the dynamics of the group.

“Getting stakeholders to talk freely was a challenge, especially when power relations and vested interests came into play,” Bayuni said. “Oil palm development is a sensitive issue for government officials and it was especially difficult for them to be challenged about it in a public environment.”

In addition, participants had very different motivations, backgrounds, levels of education and aspirations.

“At the beginning, people did not speak very frankly, but as the process evolved and they got to know each other, they started building trust,” Bayuni added. “By the second workshop, people were braver about speaking up and saying ‘I disagree with what you are saying’.”

Participants generally agreed that development was inevitable but their reactions to it were mixed. Many community leaders expressed fears that big investors would take their land and damage local livelihoods.

“We want development,” explained Mr. Luther, a customary leader from Kapuas Hulu. “But it should benefit us local and indigenous people.”

Government officials were concerned about access to roads, markets and education for a growing population with dwindling resources.

“We are committed to becoming a conservation district, but it doesn’t mean that we can not do any development activities in the district,” said AM Nasir, Kapuas Hulu district head.

Committing to change

Although the workshops have finished, the work hasn’t.

“One of the biggest challenges with the scenario method is turning results into reality,” Bayuni said.

“We can talk about it all we like, but if decision makers don’t think this is a useful approach or that the outcomes don’t benefit them, they might not be committed to changing policies to actually make it work.”

If more people are aware of how development is likely to affect their livelihoods and their environment, then that could push the government to act.

Governments serious about building a consensus on land management decisions must try to include all stakeholders in all aspects of decision making—and even that might not be enough, Bayuni added.

“Even if the government is keen to see this process rolled out and to get more people engaged, they may not have the resources or the institutional capacity to make it happen,” he said.

Paving the way towards the desired scenario, CoLUPSIA is generating land allocation and land-use maps with detailed land categories, in order to support the government in designing policies and in dealing with issues such as boundary disputes, land ownership and access to forest resources.

“One of the biggest challenges with the scenario method is turning results into reality,” Bayuni said.

Telling the public about the findings of the scenario-building exercise, such as by distributing leaflets or posters, could create enough pressure to keep governments committed.

“Access to information is key,” Bayuni said. “If more people are aware of how development is likely to affect their livelihoods and their environment, then that could push the government to act.”

For more information on the issues discussed in this article, please contact Bayuni Shantiko at b.shantiko@cgiar.org

The European Union–funded CoLUPSIA project is run by the International Center for Research in Agronomy and Development (CIRAD), in partnership with CIFOR, Perkumpulan TELAPAK, Association for Legal Reform based on Communities and Ecology (HuMA), TOMA (Ambon-based Environmental NGO), University of Pattimura and University of Gadjah Mada, Riak Bumi (Pontianak based Environmental NGO).

Copyright policy:
We want you to share Forests News content, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). This means you are free to redistribute our material for non-commercial purposes. All we ask is that you give Forests News appropriate credit and link to the original Forests News content, indicate if changes were made, and distribute your contributions under the same Creative Commons license. You must notify Forests News if you repost, reprint or reuse our materials by contacting forestsnews@cgiar.org.