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Social Forestry Scheme in East Nusa Tenggara which In Line with Biodiversity Conservation

The outbreak of agrarian conflicts in a number of state forest areas in East Nusa Tenggara encouraged the development of a social forestry model as a negotiating tool to reduce the occurrences. Community Forest (CF) Scheme was previously popular in the society before the term Social Forestry replaced it. Initially, many expected the CF scheme would open an easy access for them to manage forest areas in hope to increase income without disrupting the ecological function of the forests.

However, reality does not always happen in line with expectation. The initiation of CF is mostly encouraged by non-governmental parties, even when Ministerial Regulation No. P.83 concerning Social Forestry was released in 2016. While some of the initiations were unsuccessful to get the Community Forest Management Business Permit (CFMB Permit), a number of areas which had obtained the community forest establishment permit are now abandoned.

To solve the problem, the central government encouraged the acceleration of the implementation of social forestry. Unfortunately, the lack of attention made many local initiatives were not properly facilitated. The NTT Social Forestry Working Group (NTT-SFWG) was one of these initiatives, but they did not let the impact discourage them. In 2016, the NTT-SFWG disseminated the social forestry model in 23 districts/cities in East Nusa Tenggara, albeit with limited funds.

Currently, the central government has allocated 12,7 juta hectares of forest area to be managed through various social forestry schemes. This momentum is positively welcomed by social forestry actors in NTT, because the gate which was once impenetrable—even to parties such as NGOs—is now widely open.

In the Workshop on “Encouraging the Acceleration of Social Forestry for Welfare and Forest Conservation in NTT” which organized by Burung Indonesia and Wallacea Partnership Program on 14-15 November 2017, the Head of Social Forestry Division of NTT Province Forestry Service stated that only 10 districts out of 23 districts/cities in the NTT have well carried out Community Forest activities with various status of achievements. Almost all CF proposals in the 10 districts were facilitated by NGOs far before the social forestry gate was opened.

The NTT-SFWG sought to use a different approach by only facilitating the submission of CF based on community needs, not just pursuing targets for social forestry allocation. Agus Hidayat, Head of Sub-Directorate for Planning and Mapping of the Preparation of Social Forestry Area of MoEF emphasized that the 12.7 million hectares allocated were not the MoEF performance target.

Workshop on Encouraging the Acceleration of Social Forestry for Welfare and Forest Conservation in NTT.

The use of social forestry allocations has not been maximized, indicating that the community does not yet need the allocated forest area. The workshop participants assessed that a number of community groups who had obtained CFMB Permit are actually not ready to manage, leading to neglect of some forest areas. To get the CF scheme working effectively, community empowerment is the key.

The evaluation conducted by workshop participants concluded three basic problems in implementing the social forestry on sites: community’s inadequate understanding on social forestry, site-level obstacles, the stages of the facilitation process. The understanding of social forestry on a community level is still diverse. Some CFMB Permit owners are still expecting to be able to possess the forest area they manage.

This understanding greatly influences their attitudes and behavior when managing land in CF areas. At the sites where Work Area Map is available, many people are unaware about it. Apart from these problems, another problem at the site level is the unfair distribution of managed land among members. Another site-level problem is uneven distribution of managed land among members.

These problems are actually a follow-up impact of the facilitation and initiation processes that have not been managed properly before the CF was proposed. The rejection of CF by the people of Natakoli Village in Maumere is an example of how CF proposals sometimes ignore a quality process.

Biodiversity conservation in social forestry area

The implementation of the social forestry scheme in NTT is designed to not interfere with biodiversity protection. However, referring to the factual conditions, if useful and effective intervention through the social forestry acceleration scheme is unachieved, then the implementation of the CF scheme will become a serious threat to biodiversity conservation.

The orientation of permitted CF management is currently dominated by economic interests rather than to improve the ecology of the area. The plant strata categorization has also not been well facilitated by the community or their accompanying institutions. Considering this, if the implementation of CF is still meant to contribute to biodiversity conservation, the site-level communities with CFMB Permit should be assisted.

The area management plan is prepared based on an in-depth study of the social, economic and ecological conditions of the area. The same applies to the implementation of the management plan; a group with ability to guard and assist the community is needed to ensure the implementation of technical provisions.

Another thing that needs to be considered is institutional strengthening for community groups holding permits. Large community organizations are able to organize and supervise their members in carrying out management activities, or against outside interventions that are not in line with the management plan or that threaten biodiversity.


The Wallacea Partnership Program is a partnership program implemented by Burung Indonesia with the support of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) to increase the capacity and role of civil society organizations in conserving biodiversity in the biogeographical area of Wallacea.