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.


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Topic(s) :   Climate change

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 species with high economic value, which includes using improved seeds for certain species such as Calophyllum inophyllum, and 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.

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Topic(s) :   Blue carbon, mangroves and peatlands Peatlands Restoration
Jembatan Tengku Agung Sultanah Latifah di Kota Siak, Provinsi Riau, Indonesia. Foto oleh:
In-depth   /   18 Jan 2023

Berbagi Cerita mengenai Upaya Pencegahan Kebakaran Lahan berbasis Masyarakat di Riau

Lokakarya media membahas upaya pencegahan kebakaran lahan cerdas iklim yang dapat diskalakan

Tindakan pencegahan kebakaran lahan merupakan bagian penting dari upaya mitigasi perubahan iklim dan perlindungan ekosistem di dunia. Kebakaran hutan memancarkan emisi gas rumah kaca (GRK) dalam jumlah besar dan menyebabkan kerugian ekonomi yang signifikan serta memberikan dampak buruk untuk berbagai sektor, termasuk kesehatan – kabut asap dapat menyebabkan penyakit pernafasan kronis yang kemudian dapat diperparah oleh penyakit lainnya seperti COVID-19.

Namun, membakar lahan tetap dianggap sebagai metode yang paling efisien bagi petani untuk membuka lahan pertanian dalam waktu singkat, oleh karena itu, cara ini masih terus dipraktikkan di pedesaan, terutama ketika penduduk desa mengalami kesulitan untuk mendapatkan mata pencaharian. Di Indonesia, pemerintah terus menyerukan program “tanpa bakar” di tingkat nasional dan daerah, tetapi pembakaran lahan tetap terjadi di pedesaan karena cara ini adalah praktik tradisional untuk musim tanam baru – dan masih menjadi metode termurah dalam persiapan lahan.

Kabut pagi di Kota Siak

Melihat isu ini, tim peneliti dari Center for International Forestry Research dan World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), Pusat Studi Bencana Universitas Riau (PSB UNRI), dan Sedagho Siak telah mengerjakan proyek pencegahan kebakaran lahan dan restorasi lahan gambut berbasis masyarakat menggunakan pendekatan Riset Aksi Partisipatif (RAP).

Melihat kesuksesan proyek percontohan di Desa Dompas, Kabupaten Bengkalis, Provinsi Riau, atas permintaan Pemerintah Kabupaten Siak, proyek ini kemudian diperluas ke Kayu Ara Permai dan Desa Peyengat di Kabupaten tersebut dan diharapkan dapat berkontribusi terhadap inisiatif Siak Hijau. Sekarang, ada peluang untuk memperluas model ke seluruh Provinsi Riau sebagai bagian dari komitmen program Riau Hijau 2019–2024. “Riset aksi partisipatif kami mencakup proses kreasi bersama dan merupakan platform untuk melakukan aksi kolektif,” kata Dyah Puspitaloka, Peneliti CIFOR-ICRAF yang terlibat dalam proyek tersebut.


Dari 28 November hingga 1 Desember 2022, CIFOR-ICRAF, PSB UNRI, Sedagho Siak, Sekretariat Siak Hijau, dan Pemerintah Siak – dengan pendanaan dari Temasek Foundation dan Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) – melakukan kunjungan lapangan dan lokakarya media. Agenda ini memberikan kesempatan bagi para mitra, jurnalis, dan khalayak luas untuk belajar tentang pencegahan kebakaran lahan berbasis masyarakat dan restorasi lahan gambut menuju pencapaian target Forest and Land Use (FOLU) Pemerintah Indonesia Net Sink 2030 (yang bertujuan untuk net-negatif emisi dari sektor FOLU nasional pada 2030), dan pemulihan ekonomi nasional pasca-COVID-19.


Acara yang dihadiri oleh 15 jurnalis dari 13 media massa berbeda ini membagikan berbagai kisah dan praktik masyarakat dalam pencegahan kebakaran lahan, restorasi lahan gambut, dan model bisnis berkelanjutan – secara spesifik melalui kunjungan ke dua desa, Kayu Ara Permai dan Penyengat. Di Kayu Ara Permai, para peserta mengeksplorasi bisnis agroforestri kopi, edu-eco-tourism, dan hortikultura yang didirikan dengan bantuan proyek percontohan tersebut. Di Penyengat, peserta mengamati contoh penghijauan lanskap, agroforestri, dan usaha berkebun di rumah yang dimotori kelompok perempuan. “Kami berbagi pembelajaran dari inisiatif berbasis masyarakat di Kayu Ara Permai dan Desa Penyengat sebagai cara untuk mendorong dan mendukung upaya serupa di daerah lain,” kata Puspitaloka, yang juga berpartisipasi dalam acara kunjungan tersebut. “Kunjungan ini menunjukkan dengan jelas bagaimana restorasi perlu diintegrasikan dengan model bisnis yang berkelanjutan bagi masyarakat, untuk memberikan manfaat dan membangun aksi kolektif dan kemandirian untuk mempertahankan upaya restorasi.”

Panorama of the city of Siak Sri Inderapura, Riau Province.
AERIAL field of demonstration plot arena in Sungai Apit, Siak, Riau Province. This arena will be planted with Matoa
Professor Dr. Hery Purnomo and local ranger together planting the Liberika coffee seed in Kayu Ara Permai village, Siak Riau province.
Close up of Liberika coffee seed

Herry Purnomo, Ilmuwan Senior dan Deputy Country Director CIFOR-ICRAF Indonesia dengan spesialisasi pengelolaan dan kebijakan hutan, yang juga terlibat dalam acara tersebut, mengatakan bahwa pendekatan partisipatif untuk pekerjaan semacam ini sangat penting, karena “setiap komunitas dan wilayahnya memiliki keunikan masing-masing. Sebuah solusi harus ditemukan di tempat mereka, bersama-sama dengan masyarakat setempat, bukan ditentukan dari tempat lain.”

Pendekatan tersebut terlihat jelas oleh Hans Nicholas Jong, Staf Penulis situs berita konservasi internasional Mongabay yang menghadiri lokakarya media ini “Sangat menyenangkan dapat melihat bagaimana komunitas ini terlibat sejak awal,” katanya. “Saya bisa melihat bagaimana keterlibatan mereka dalam penelitian karena merekalah yang menentukan model restorasi dan pengelolaan gambut.” Hans juga mengatakan bahwa acara tersebut juga membantunya menjalin hubungan penting dengan berbagai pihak dan masyarakat setempat: “Perjalanan ini memberi saya kesempatan untuk berbicara dengan pejabat publik dan mempelajari kebijakan mereka,” katanya. “Tanpa acara ini, akan sulit bagi saya untuk mendapatkan semua pengetahuan itu, karena saya harus mengandalkan panggilan telepon untuk berbicara dengan narasumber di lapangan.”


Kunjungan lapangan ke demplot agroforestri dan penghijauan lanskap di Sungai Apit, Desa Penyengat.

Diskusi kelompok terfokus (FGD) antara Peneliti CIFOR-ICRAF, jurnalis, dan akademisi di Universitas Riau tentang konsep dan implementasi pencegahan kebakaran hutan dan lahan, bersama dengan restorasi gambut berbasis masyarakat di Provinsi Riau.

Peserta dan fasilitator lokakarya media.


Purnomo juga menyoroti perlunya tindakan yang tepat pada skala yang berbeda. “Tindakan dari berbagai aktor di berbagai tingkatan diperlukan untuk mencegah kebakaran hutan dan lahan serta mendukung restorasi lahan gambut,” katanya. “FOLU Net Sink 2030 dan Low Carbon Development Initiatives (LCDI) harus dibagi-bagi menjadi tindakan yang relevan dalam skala – termasuk skala kecil, yang harus dipimpin oleh masyarakat.”

Secara lebih luas, dukungan kebijakan di tingkat nasional dan daerah (provinsi dan kabupaten), serta keterlibatan dengan sektor swasta, “merupakan suatu keharusan,” kata Purnomo. “Dukungan sektor publik membuat restorasi menjadi resmi, sementara dukungan sektor swasta meningkatkan efektivitas restorasi dan memperbesar skalanya.”

Pengembangan cerita: Monica Evans | Produksi foto dan video: Ricky Martin | Desain web: Gusdiyanto | Koordinasi publikasi: Budhy Kristanty

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