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11 Models, practices and programmes of community forestry in Kalimantan - Tien Wahyuni[12]


Management models of indigenous forests have expanded and spread all over the archipelago of Indonesia. There are more than 400 tribes in Indonesia. Most of them have different dialects, cultivation and medicinal practices, and unique social relation systems. These influence the patterns of exploitation and ownership of forest and natural resources. Kalimantan, as the second largest island in Indonesia with large tracts of forest, has practised different models and practices of community forestry. Some models of community forestry in Kalimantan are seen in tembawang, cane garden, tana’ulen, lembo and other traditional forest management systems such as shifting cultivation, traditional conservation practices and traditional logging practices.


The approach to the management of forest community has a variety of terms developed by many institutes in Indonesia, the Department of Forestry, commercial companies, NGOs, and also the local communities, especially those who live in and around the forests. Examples are forest community (HKM), system of people forest (SHK), community forestry, social forestry, HPH Bina Desa (Forest Concession Holder Programme), etc. Taking lessons learnt from the traditional wisdom of the local people is preferable in solving problems of management of the forest in Indonesia. This is particularly pertinent for the forests in Kalimantan, which represents a big island in the middle of Indonesia. Research has shown the existence of various practices in the management of the forest communities in Kalimantan. The management practices of the forest as recognized by various terms, indicate that the indigenous people can manage natural resources (forest), bringing about various benefits to them and the environment through economic, sociocultural, ecological, environmental and religious means.

This paper presents a review of the information from the literature that describes the community forestry models, which have been developed from the traditional wisdom of the indigenous people.



Tembawang is found almost in all districts of Sanggau, West Kalimantan. Tembawang represents the management system practised by the Dayak Bidayuh which consists of: rimak (communal natural forest), pulaut (island of secondary forest), sompuat (managed honey trees), rubber plantation, jamieh (swidden fallow), ladang (swidden), tawa (rice field), kampong (settlement) and pelaman (home area in swidden). Sundawati (1993) classifies tembawang as part of a Dayak society garden consisting of home garden, tembawang (forest garden) and rubber plantation (mixed rubber-garden). In general, tembawang is practised by the Dayak Bidayuh to establish gardens of fruit and woody trees. The products of this effort are fruits like durian, langsat, rambutan, entawak, mango, tengkawang; rubber of Hevea brasiliensis and rubber of nyatoh; wood for building, charcoal and fuelwood; and also various plants that can be used as local medicines.

Basically, tembawang is divided into two groups: tembawang romin coming from kampong (long house) and tembawang bori coming from farm. Tembawang waris represents old tembawang from the family heritage (mawa). Tembawang is built up by the society to get a variety of products, especially fruits. Most fruits are seasonal, annual or biannual with different quantities at harvest, but some also vary between years in the form of big and small harvests in rotations every three to five years. During the year, the people will get other products like rubber, rubber of nyatoh, roots, etc.

The society of Dayak Bidayuh recognizes three authorization concepts of land, that is:

1. Federation right (watas ompuk), namely the property of the current tribe, which inhabits a kampong (village). Outsiders from the federation of adat (custom) do not have rights of watas ompuk. Authorization right of tembawang romin, for example, is only owned by a group of people living in long houses.

2. Right of parenean represents a group property of a certain society inherited from forest clearing for swidden, then developed into tembawang bori. Other residents of the kampong (village) do not have the right to collect the products of that tembawang.

3. Individual right (empu oko) is individual property held by one core family, obtained from previous forest clearing of the tribe property. Tembawang milik is tembawang that is built up by a family itself and thereby becomes an individual property. The owner can rent, mortgage and sell the farm to anybody after the farm has been used for three rotations (one rotation ranges from 9 to 15 years).

One of the tembawang products is the seeds of tengkawang (illipe nut). A small harvest yields 300 kg ha-1 y-1 with a price of Rp. 800 kg-1, while with a big harvest in a cycle of three to five years, the production could be 600 kg ha-1 with a price of Rp.500-700 kg-1. A tree can yield 20-50 kg of seeds at the price of Rp.500 kg-1. The structure of the tembawang is dynamic, depending on the price market of commodities in the tembawang. As the price of rubber of nyatoh is low, the people have switched from planting of nyatoh to rubber and use the wood of nyatoh for construction. The same thing has happened to other products of tembawang in the form of medicinal products, fuelwood, etc.

Typically the composition of tembawang as a planted garden indicates that the tembawang can stay intact from generation to generation. Moreover, the tembawang, characterized by a complex form of agroforestry, in general supports its continuity. This system:

Although the tembawang is affected by commodity prices of rubber, coffee, coconut, palm oil and others, its complex form of agroforestry supports an environmental system in the trail of decimation of the natural forest in Indonesia. The tembawang can be owned at about 0.6 ha per family. Society priority is to have rice fields or farms to fulfill the requirement of subsistence, to grow crops and rubber so as to get a produce almost every day and in the end have tembawang milik (property night of tembawang). Ownership of tembawang is not restrictive; tembawang romin can be given to tribal members that do not have tembawang bori or tembawang milik, so that they can also reap its benefits. With better job opportunities at rubber plantations many people have reduced the size of their rice fields (Suharjito et al.1999). The decreasing number of residents practising tembawang has seen the need for efficient usage of human resources. Thus the model tends now to forgo practices that need much labour like cultivation of rice fields.

Cane garden

Cane has a thousand uses by the Dayak communities ranging from flooring, sleep pallet, crate, basket, sirih (leaves of Piper auduncum) box, strap for the house, boat, various tools, to other products. Cane plays an important role in the household, especially for the housewife in her free time, in converting it to many products. Thus cane has a central role in the economic, cultural and social life of the community especially Bentian. Bentian is a community of gilir-balik (turn-back) farmers, and is also referred to as farmers of shifting cultivation. However, people of Bentian do not leave their farms, but cultivate it with valuable cane. People of Bentian are included in the family of Dayak Luangan. Groups of Dayak Luangan are dispersed over a wide area, from the drain basin of middle Barito in Central Kalimantan, to the area of middle Mahakam River in East Kalimantan. The ancestors of Bentian came from central Kalimantan, migrated to the north, to the region of Big Bentian, in the subdistrict of Kutai, East Kalimantan.

The Bentian people recognize the fragility of the soil and to maintain its productivity they only farm it for two years. Afterwards the farm is left to rest, and sometimes they enrich it with woody trees, cane and fruits. Years later they will return to farm. Reasons for the Bentian people to allow the farm a period of rest in gilir-balik (turn-back) is (1) to protect the fertility of the soil and (2) to turn to the forest for its multifunctions, i.e. for food, fuelwood, timber, medicine, etc.

Cane is planted in between paddy, in the form of seedlings. Setumpak is swidden, which is just opened. One family of Bentian can do two tumpaks, about 1.5 to 2.5 ha depending on the number of capable members in that family. Seven to ten years later the canes will have formed clumps, creeping at and among young secondary forest. It can then be harvested. This harvest can continue for 30 years or more after planting.

For the Bentian people, the cane is treated as money deposited at the bank. If the price of cane decreases, it will not be harvested and the cane will continue to grow to increase its value. If money is needed the cane can be sold at any time.

Besides cane, the gardens of the Bentian people produce assorted products like fuelwood, fruits, vegetables, animals and mace. Generally these products still provide subsistence, adequate for the Bentian people to weather difficult periods when the value of cane is low. The Bentian people are inclined towards individual authorization in the form of family property. Land property is marked by the existence of certain trees like rambutan, cempedak, jackfruit and langsat, indicating that the forest land there has been opened. Certain cane types, mausoleum signs from wood of ulin, ex-houses or huts of swidden may be other indications. Marking at old farms is less defined. But the Bentian people endow such ownership boundaries through oral tradition from generation to generation.


Tana’ulen (also known as tana’unung, wood pulung or tana’adat) represents an area or a forested land as part of custom (ownership by custom), where the structure and composition are represented by natural forest, usually predominated by primary forest. According to the custom, tana’ulen is a land of prohibition, with activities dictated by custom and as reserve area, especially for the service of community. This concept represents the heritage of the community.

Stipulating an area as tana’ulen follows some criteria:

In the early days, the tana’ulen belonged to the village aristocracy. Any wood collecting or cutting had to be arranged with them. Today, the management of tana’ulen and decisions regarding other village lands are more communal and, as in long alango where tana’ulen is still more or less enforced, the villagers meet and discuss what area is to be cut or "given a resting period". If someone wants to cut a tree from the tana’ulen, for example, to build a house, he must ask permission from the kepala desa (head of village), or the kepala adat (head of custom). If neighbouring villagers wish to use their tana’ulen, they also must ask permission in a meeting arranged between the villages. Usually they must pay compensation.


The lembo system involves traditional forest and domestic gardens as practised by the indigenous people of the Barongtongkok subdistrict of East Kalimantan (Sardjono 1996), namely the Dayak Tunjung and Dayak Benuaq - two of some 400 Dayak groups living on Borneo (including East Kalimantan) (Riwut 1979).

It is not known for sure when and why the lembo system emerged among the Dayak Tunjung and Dayak Benuaq. Either intentionally or accidentally, this eventually led to the phenomenon that some species of trees and other useful plants, especially fruits, were grown on farmland in the areas around individual houses or around lamins (five traditional Dayak longhouses), and along paths leading to fields and rivers. Therefore, lembos can be classified into four types: lembo ladang (rice field lembo), lembo lamin (longhouse lembo), lembo rumah (house lembo) and lembo jalan (path lembo), although the local people know them only as lembo.

Based on the structure, composition and distance from dwellings, lembo can be broken down into forest gardens (far from settlements) and domestic gardens (near settlements). Most lembos are quite small, covering between 0.1 and 2.0 ha. Their extent depends on the number of families or group members using them, how long they have been in use, and the duration of the main growing season. Lembo rumahs and lembo lamins, which take the form of small forests on farmland, are much larger than lembo ladang tended by individuals. Lembos are always intimately integrated into farmland or settlements. All can be identified as tree-covered areas on farmland and/or around the houses of their owners.

The size and age of the trees on lembo vary. After large and unproductive trees and other unwanted plants have been cut, stands either regenerate naturally or are restocked by planting wild seedlings taken from old lembo or nearby secondary forests. A good knowledge of species combinations is therefore essential for maintaining this traditional form of agriculture. Another important condition that must be met in order for the lembo system to survive is formally acknowledged property rights. Traditionally, local residents have been entitled to occupy and cultivate land in their village (or if inherited, even in other villages), provided no one else is already using it. But the government now requires land certificates as proof of ownership.

Another interesting characteristic of the lembo system is that it involves virtually no capital or other financial or monetary instruments. Nearly all of its essential requirements can be easily obtained, and maintenance involves no cost. It is questionable whether investments of outside captial (e.g. in the form of credit) are needed to promote development of the lembo system, especially since any productivity increases achieved are often offset by the failure to take account of ecological aspects and sociocultural values.

The lembo system is part of the tradition of the Dayak Tunjung and Dayak Benuaq and, therefore, also plays an important role in their cultures. Some of its products meet their subsistence or can be traded. With its diverse structures and varieties, and especially the predominance of woody plants, this traditional land-use system is very important for maintaining the local ecological equilibrium. But socio-economic conditions can be expected to change rapidly due to external influences such as development programmes and national economic policies. It is difficult to know in advance whether the lembo system will be able to adjust easily to these influences. Although it definitely has potential, outside assistence will still be needed in the form of scientific innovations and technologies, in addition to appropriate agricultural policies.

The future orientation of the lembo system can only be subjectively evaluated. The lembo system, which is less dependent on external inputs and capital, and not all dependent on markets, poses fewer and lower risks. Another advantage is that the lembo system has been a part of the villagers’ tradition. Consequently, although the criterion of socio-economic development seems to give it poor prospects of surviving (e.g. because of newly required land ownership certificates), actually this may not be an obstacle at all.

Finally, it appears that it would be too difficult to transplant the lembo system to other areas, constituting as it does an integral sytem embracing physical and cultural values. It would therefore be more beneficial to strive to maintain and develop the lembo system of forest and domestic gardens in the region where it has been traditionally practised.


Shifting cultivation

In the Kayan Mentarang Nature Reserve in the far interior of East Kalimantan, bordering Sabah and Sarawak, the forests are not as rich in dipterocarp species as in the lowland forests. The indigenous people of East Kalimantan in the vicinity of the Kayan Mentarang Nature Reserve typically practise rotational swidden cultivation, or traditional shifting cultivation, along with management of timber and non-timber forest products. The system may vary, but generally people manage their land based on local knowledge of the ecosystem and soil properties which is regulated by cultural traditions and a system of customary land tenure. The Kenyah and other Dayak groups who live in this area manage their customary land for a diversity of uses. They designate land for settlement, for cultivation, for forest protection, for fishing and for hunting.

Traditional shifting cultivation, as it is practised here, can also be called "recurrent cultivation", as it involves individual farmers returning to cultivate their portions of land after fallow and combines a complex cropping system with sustained-yield management of secondary and primary forest resources (Jessup 1981). This usually does not involve moving the village, only the fields. Traditional shifting cultivation varies somewhat among the different peoples who practise it, but a standard feature of almost all shifting agriculture is the practice of mixed cropping, once considered primitive by agronomists and soil scientists, but now being suggested as a means of increasing world food production.

Ecologically speaking, this type of cultivation and land management can be a very stable system. The crops protect the land from excessive leaching, and even to some extent, mimic the forest in diversity of species and life-forms which are grown together.

Traditional conservation practices

A survey, conducted by WWF-Indonesia in selected areas in the Kayan Mentarang Nature Reserve as part of a long-term project together with LIPI (Indonesian Science Institute) and PHPA (Forest Management and Nature Conservation), revealed that very few cases have recording of local management practices and maps of resulting land use. Practices and regulations vary between villages. In some areas, for example, in Long Lore, on the River Malinau, some species are planted before they cut a tree. This may be because the population density is higher there making natural resources more vulnerable. In other places, for example on the Upper Bahau, where the population density is not so high, trees are not replanted, and certain species can theoretically be harvested until exhaustion.

Hukum adat (custom regulation) assures clean water, a refuge for wildlife and plant species and an important resource base for a number of products used in daily life. Unfortunately, as the drive for quick profits changes societies, in many places today adat regulations are no longer so strict and this affects especially hunting and gathering of secondary forest products. It can be seen that the tengkawang or illipe nut trees (various Shorea species) in many places in West Kalimantan, formerly highly valued and protected nut producing trees, are now often cut and sold for a quick profit rather than maintained as a source of sustainable income every few years.

Traditional logging practices

Some studies have been conducted on the effects that traditional tree cutting methods have on the forest (Sorensen 1996). The environmental impacts as a result of traditional felling methods as practised by the Dayak communities in the Kayan Mentarang area have been found to be slight, as they do not create gaps much larger than those made by natural tree-fall. The Dayaks practise directional felling; occasionally cutting lianas and smaller trees, which might disturb the way the tree will fall. On slopes, they try to fell the tree along the slope. This is not done so much for protection of the forest, rather as a way of facilitating on the spot processing of the trees into planks, posts or shingles. Also, an improperly felled tree may be difficult, and at times dangerous to work. The gaps made by the felling of trees for "consumption" are similar to natural treefall gaps both in the size and regeneration of seedlings, and in the amount of damage to the soil, understorey vegetation, etc. As no machinery is used, apart from chainsaw, the felling and extraction of timber cause little damage to the surrounding forest. However, as logging is selective, and as "outsiders" now also invade their land to collect NTFPs, especially gaharu and rattans, it is possible that some preferred species might now have been reduced locally in both distribution and abundance.

Sorensen (1996) stated that no one has yet investigated how indigenous people have affected species’ abundance and distribution in East Kalimantan. This would be interesting; no matter how deep into the forest one goes in the Kayan Mentarang Nature Reserve, scattered across what is seemingly "virgin rain forest", are huge stone urns, some still with lids, containing the remains of the Ngorek people who lived there at least 400 years ago. Certainly the species distribution has been affected by the presence of people for as many years.

The tree is utilized mainly to obtain wood, sago, fruit, honey, latex and other resins. Fruit, honey and resins are normally harvested without felling the trees. For certain resins, the quality is better and the amount that can be harvested greater if it is collected higher up the trunk. Most damar (dipterocarp resin), however, is collected near ground level and a few meters up the trunk. Commonly exploited timber trees are members of the Fagaceae, especially Lithocarpus and Castanopsis; Podocarpaceae, Podocarpus sp.; Myrtaceae, especially Eugenia; various members of the Dipterocarpaceae; and a species of Borneo ironwood, Eusideroxylon sp.

In East Kalimantan, illipe nuts (from various Shorea species) have never been traded for any large commercial market (Sellato 1994). The reason for this is unknown and is peculiar, as they have been widely traded elsewhere in Borneo, especially in Sarawak and West Kalimantan. However, as commercialism makes its way deeper into traditional societies, these trees are now often being cut for a quick profit in areas where they formerly brought substantial, albeit irregular, income to a village and were usually protected in forest reserves (the equivalent to tana‘ulen in the upper Bahau River). Nor do the people in the Kayan Mentarang area plant damar gardens as they do, for example in West Kalimantan or Sumatra. There has always been enough to harvest in the forest for the peoples’ own use and for occasional trade.


With the new paradigm of forestry development in Indonesia, in 1999 by Decision Letter No. 677/Kpts-II/1998, community forestry has been given emphasis as "Community-Based Development" whereby optimal effort is given to the empowerment of the local community or community living in and around forest areas. This Community-Based Development is also meant to be optimized institutional effort, in medium- and small-scale economic development of the rural areas, linked directly with the forestry sector.

One of the forms of Community-Based Development is community forestry (CF). Through the development of CF, the community, which is living around the forest is motivated to play an active role in development.

Progress of community forestry in Central Kalimantan

Wahyuni (2002) reported that the local government of Central Kalimantan has given permission to 17 cooperatives to conduct community forestry (HKM) in an area of 130 370 ha. This involves three permits given by the Director-General of Land Rehabilitation and Social Forestry, 13 permits given by the Regional Office of the Department of Forestry and Plantation and one permit given by the Regent of the Kapuas. The permits, in the form of temporary license for three years were just issued in 2002; generally at this time (2003) the 17 cooperatives are still in the preparation phase (pre-condition), that is of exploiting the forest, and preparing of the operational plan (OP).

So far, in preparation for the community’s involvement with HKM there are four LSM (NGOs) collaborating with four cooperatives which have got permissions:

1. LSM Betang Mandiri collaborating with Panggarwasih Cooperation in Lahe, Subdistrict of Mentangai, District of Kapuas;

2. LSM Citra Borneo Lestari collaborating with Karya Bersama Cooperation in Lungkuh Layang, Subdistrict of Timpa, District of Kapuas;

3. LSM Tambua Shinta collaborating with Cooperation of Panarusirat in Barunang II, Subdistrict of Kahayan Hulu, District of Kapuas;

4. LSM Handep Haruyung collaborating with Bina Belantara Cooperation in Behawat countryside, Subdistrict of Tapin Wife, District of Kapuas.

Progress of community forestry in West Kalimantan

During the last eight years, West Kalimantan has conducted a project, SFDP, which collaborated with its partners to develop a model of CF in the region of PKHP (Development of Forest Participation Area or Participatory Forest Management Area/PFMA). The area of SFDP is 102 250 ha, including eight rural sites and 59 villages with population of around 20 000. Basically, the field activity focused on the development of an institute, management of natural resources and community empowerment. To support the implementation of the policy of CF, the management has conducted inventory at 13 locations.

Progress of community forestry in East Kalimantan

The communities around the forest in the District of Kutai Kertanegara, East Kalimantan, generally depend on the forest for their livelihood. They live as farmers of gilir-balik (turn-back), loggers and other forest workers. Before the outbreak of a forest fire, they used to get added income from gathering NTFPs like cane, resin, nest of walet bird and others. But after the forest fire, the availability of these NTFPs decreased drastically. Generally, the people benefit from the forest products to meet their daily needs, though some of them sell the products. For example, they cut and extract the wood to construct their houses, collect resin rubber as glue to prevent leakage of their boats and also for sale. Their method of exploitation of the forest is generally pursuant to hereditary habits (indigenous knowledge) in a friendly environment that ensures sustainability of the resources.

As mentioned above, the forest management practices by the communities or community forestry in the district of Kutai Kertanegara are very simple management systems (traditional management) like tana’ulen of the Dayak Kenyah, lembo of Dayak Tunjung, cane garden of Kutai and others.

Initially, tana’ulen was practised over a wide area to allow hunting. But with the coming of timber companies, and also because of fire, the hunting range has narrowed. This is one point which has later become a source of conflict between the communities and timber companies concerning claims of land.

The forest fires of 1981/1982 and 1997/1998 damaged not only forests managed by timber companies/ timber plantation companies, but also those claimed by local communities as their customary forests that represent CF models. For example, the forest fires of 1997/1998 have broken up part of the customary forest area of Umaq Dian.

The community of Umaq Dian classified tana’ulen into the following four forms:

The community of Umaq Dian has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the timber company, PT. Melapi Timber, for the management of their customary forest, which covers an area of 1235.62 ha. This has also taken place in Umaq Tukung over an area of 2034.37 ha.


The development of CF management model is influenced by the following factors:

Cultural factor

Traditionally, the community has recognized a system of management of CF, which is still very simple, and the main objective is non-commercial. There is no empowerment of authority, and also there are no laws to regulate the activities, thus limiting activities to just fulfilling subsistence needs. Besides the hereditary factor, there is institutional regulation in custom society often referred to as traditional regulation. Traditional regulation has a clear role in filling the gaps in national laws, especially at operational level, influencing actions as well as influencing the impact of actions.

Natural factor

The abundance of natural forest resources permits community forestry practices. The environmental changes, such as those caused by forest fires and activities of timber companies, require changes in the management system.

These have come about because the efforts of the community to overcome these problems are not only limited but are also assumed illegal in managing their customary forests.

Government policy

In Indonesia, the central government and the local government have different perceptions regarding the policy on forest management. Regulations related to CF have been interpreted differently, and have changed so frequently without really being implemented.

The Indonesian Government is still learning to prioritize the policy on forest management that is more oriented to increasing the prosperity of the community living around and in the forest, and with the consideration of sustaining the forest and environment.


Based on the analysis of the models, practices and programmes, CF, besides sustaining the subsistence of individuals, can also improve the economy of a whole community. The mechanism of justice also supports the attainment of continuity, efficiency and productivity. Evidence indicated that the management of the forest by the community could achieve good results. Generally the forestry sector is emphasizing more on productivity and disregarding other aspects. Growth of the community, market intervention and governmental domination of local natural resources represent strong factors which influence the future development of forest management based on community.


Jessup, T.C. 1981. Why do Apo Kayan shifting cultivators move? Borneo Research Bulletin 13(1).

Jong, W. D. 2002. Forest products and local forest management in West Kalimantan, Indonesia: implications for conservation and development. Wageningen, Netherlands, Tropenbos International.

Riwut, T. 1979. Kalimantan membangun. PT. Jayakarta Agung Offset. 421 pp.

Sardjono, M.A. 1996. The lembo system: a model for agroforestry in dipterocarp forest ecosystems of East Kalimantan. Dipterocarp forest ecosystems: towards sustainable management. GTZ and Mulawarman University. Singapore.

Sellato, B. 1994. The Ngorek: a survey of lithic and megalithic traditions in the Bahau area, East Kalimantan, and an interdisciplinary sketch of regional history. WWF-Indonesia Programme Report.

Sorensen, K.M 1996. Traditional management of dipterocarp forests: examples of community forestry by indigenous communities. Dipterocarp forest ecosystems: towards sustainable management. GTZ and Mulawarman University. Singapore.

Suharjito, Khan, Djatmiko, Sirait & Evelyna. 1999. Characteristic of forest management based community. Collaborative Study (FKKM).

Sundawati, Leti. 1993. The Dayak garden system in Sanggau District,West Kalimantan: an agroforestry model. Georg-August University, Gottingen. (Master thesis)

Wahyuni, T. 2002. Development model of community forestry. Research Report. Forest Research Institute, Samarinda. (Unpublished)

[12] Forest Research and Development Institute of Kalimantan, Sempaja, Samarinda, East Kalimantan, Indonesia; E-mail:;

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