RECOFC’s Silver Jubilee celebration in Indonesia was organized on 20 September 2012 in Jakarta. The event was attended by 30 participants representing government officials from the Ministry of Forestry, donor agencies, NGO partners, and community leader representatives.
Indonesia is a key country for RECOFTC given the wealth of its forest resources and the millions of local people who depend on them for their subsistence. Despite the commitment of the central government to boost community forest development, lack of capacity at provincial and district levels has hampered progress to date. The process of acquiring official permits for community forests remain slow due to complicated procedures and bureaucracy, not to mention the lack of support provided to community forest proponents. Reversing this power equation and “Putting the Last First,” as recommended by Robert Chambers in his publication of that name, should be the norm for local government units.
These were some of the candid reflections at a panel discussion held in Jakarta on 20 September, 2012, to mark the 25th Silver Jubilee of RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests. The panelists were Mr. Subhan, a prominent community leader from Labbo Forest Village, Bantaeng district, South Sulawesi, and one of the first officially recognized village forests in Indonesia; representing the government was Mr. Haryadi Himawan, Director of Land Rehabilitation and Social Forestry at the Ministry of Forestry; and Mr. Kusworo, from Flora and Fauna International, who was the civil society representative.
The participants credited the strong commitment and collaboration amongst the villagers of Labbo, RECOFTC, the district government, and the University of Hasannuddin, as key to the successful realization of the first Village Forest. Legal recognition and the ensuing security have already resulted in better management of forest resources and improved livelihoods – in one study, the income from coffee has increased some 50%.
However, the slow follow up in recognizing other Forest Villages has caused concern. RECOFTC’s field and capacity building work, particularly with the Center for Forestry Education and Training (CFET), Bogor, Indonesia was seen as both relevant and warmly appreciated in this context by Dr. Agus Justianto, head of the organization. Indeed, RECOFTC has had an active training program in Indonesia for over 14 years and recently renewed its MoU with the Government to widen and deepen its support for the community forestry movement.
The event was attended by 30 participants representing government officials from Ministry of Forestry, donor agencies, NGO partners and representatives from communities. The informal gathering provided a good opportunity for networking and a better understanding of RECOFTC’s activities in Indonesia with the scope for widening collaborations in the near future.