As a home for five endemic birds and other species with limited distribution, the Mbeliling Landscape is an important area for biodiversity in Flores Island. Ecologically, this area is a source of water for the communities and supports agricultural activities.
The Mbeliling community highly regard the preservation of nature. A number of community groups have independently carried out monitoring activities for natural services. To prevent nature damages, they regularly monitor, record, and document changes that occur around customary forest, water sources, and agriculture areas. This activity naturally benefits the preservation of bird habitat and other biodiversity.
Through the Landsense Project, which was supported by EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, Burung Indonesia developed the community-based forest monitoring in four pilot villages namely Golo Kondeng, Golo Desat, Golo Damu, dan Liang Ndara Villages. The four villages have been practicing natural service monitoring activities on a regular basis and feel the direct impact.
Burung Indonesia then conducted consultations on the integration of Natural Services Monitoring (NSM) into village development plans so that village governments can allocate regular budgets to support NMS activities. The funds can be allocated from the Regional Expenditure Budget II or village fund sourced from the National Expenditure Budget—referring to the Ministry of Village, Development of Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration regulation No.19 of 2017 concerning Priority for the Use of Village Funds.
Considering this option, the village government can finance the NMS using the village funds which are channelled to village-owned enterprises to raise the village income. However, since the NMS activities are still limited to collecting data and information related to changes in the natural conditions, it is difficult to absorb the village fund.
The four village governments are very supportive of NMS activities because the monitoring data can support the process of formulating development plans. Therefore, at the meeting, the four village governments stated their readiness to support the implementation of the NMS by allocating costs through the Village Fund Allocation (AFA) scheme.
The Village Government and Village Consultative Body of Liang Ndara were committed to allocate the fund based on AFA fund change scheme. Interestingly, the village government saw an opportunity to use the NMS as an eco-tourism option, in addition to the existing dance show and bird watching. The profit generated from NMS activities for eco-tourism can be a source of funds, too.
The village government of Golo Kondeng and Golo Damu villages stated their inability to allocate funds in the near future, while the Golo Desat Village Government was committed to making changes to the village budget so that NMS activities can be financed through the AFA scheme this year. This commitment was realized in February 2018 and operational costs for the monitoring group initiated by the Village Head was covered.
On the same occasion, Burung Indonesia introduced an application-based data collection program to improve the quality of monitoring data. With this application, various interested parties – including the village government – have easy access to the data that has been collected and stored.
One of the community groups that are actively carrying out NMS activities is the Kembang Mekar Group. As much 80% members of the local conservation group (LCG) fostered by Burung Indonesia in Golo Damu Village are housewives. When they finish their house chores and their husbands out on the fields, these women go to the village forests to monitor the condition of forests, animal habitats and the springs that support the livelihoods of the people in the village. They also monitor forest areas from unsustainable practices such as illegal logging.
These tough women are accustomed to note any changes that occur around the village forest. The results of these activities then become input for the village government to prepare future village development plans.
The collective activities conducted by Kembang Mekar Group have an opportunity to be funded by village funds sourced from Regional Expenditure Budget II. The utilization of village funds sourced from said budget is very flexible and can be used to support village important and prioritized activities such as development of Family Welfare Program, Integrated Healthcare Centre and other group activities.