In Indonesia, forest plantation development activities will become more complicated and delicate. Most of the work will be on intensive forest rehabilitation programmes, restoration planting of degraded natural forests, the securing of forest plantation sustainability and developing new forest plantations.
Under such circumstances, a sustainable forest management programme will be difficult to apply, particularly owing to ongoing slow economic recovery and weak law enforcement that puts the sustainability of our forests at stake. At the same time, encroachment, illegal logging and conflict issues are growing significantly.
The Indonesian Government is obviously limited in what it can do. Its greatest value, therefore, is in providing the local private sectors with the opportunity to help bring investors to Indonesia, to generate a multiplier (snowball) effect to stimulate the regional economy development programme, improve the welfare of the community and encourage sustainable, tropical forest management.
To deal with these issues, a comprehensive community-based development programme, including a forest resource-based economic development plan, should immediately be introduced to all stakeholders (central and local government, the private sector and the local community). This would aim at providing new employment opportunities, drive and keep rural economic development in motion as well as improving local government revenues. Partnership cooperation between the local private sector and communities should be incorporated to allow the programme to be highly flexible in adapting to particular areas, social infrastructures and cultures.
A new approach to forest development should be introduced by developing a model for future development of sustainable forest in the form of partnership joint ventures between private companies with cooperatives of the local community where the government acts as a facilitator to ensure investment security and maintain consistent policies to achieve forest sustainability and improve incomes of the local community.
A programme that achieves such results cannot be imposed externally. More than ever before, it requires partnerships to support comprehensive development strategies defined under good governance leadership.
Agriculture has been a partial means of rural people's livelihoods. Improved agricultural productivity is becoming even more imperative in regions where rural poverty dominates. Since economic growth is essential for forest plantation, combining sustainable forest plantation and agriculture in the schemes are vital for reducing poverty. Accordingly, productivity gains, sharing of research and technology and successful integration of agriculture into the development of plantation forest have all become essential.
In Indonesian Law No. 41/99, Articles 8, 30 and 32 concerning forestry, it is clearly stipulated that forest management should be conducted by involving the active participation of the local community and developing partnerships through its cooperatives.
Since the beginning of the reformation and decentralization period, the government has indicated its willingness to support local communities, allowing them to actively participate in managing the natural forest resources.
Various agencies have carried out intensive studies and pilot projects on empowerment and community development to reduce forest encroachment by those living in or close to remote areas. Some of these agencies include the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of Japan (OECF), Department for International Development UK (DFID), German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the European Union (EU), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).
However, the studies have not been followed by sufficient action by the Ministry of Forestry or by other government agencies.
Unfortunately, until now an effective model has not been found, primarily as a result of the following:
· Bureaucrats are not ready to accept the fact that decentralization and coordination among government agencies have been insignificant up until now.
· The fact that the local private sector (small- and medium-sized enterprises) will soon become a strategic player in the economic development under regional autonomy had never been anticipated. Locals understand more than external companies about the culture and the social constraints of their respective local community partners, which many local governments at both the provincial and district levels have failed to recognize.
· Up until now, the subsidy policy implemented by the Ministry of Forestry has been ineffectively used for the intended programmes. The Ministry of Forestry should consider introducing and creating an incentive policy. It would be for those who can manage their forest sustainably in participatory partnership with the local community in social, ecological and economic matters. The term "incentive" does not only mean "cash" only, but also "in kind" within the government's authority.
· The government is now considering revising the regional autonomy laws currently seen as scaring off investors and threatening national unity. Many investors have complained that districts were imposing new taxes and policies in violation of previous contracts signed with the central government. This will obviously push Indonesia into another crisis, that of confidence. Close relations between the government levels (central, provincial and district) and among government and the private sectors have been severed. Even worse, the people have lost confidence in the government.
· Regarding the cooperative venture issue, there are many sceptics because cooperatives in the past were just an empty shell used for conducting charity shows; it will not be easy to fill them with substance.
· However, negative socio-economic impacts during the development of the Industrial Timber Plantation concession (HTI) may occur, such as the disruption of traditional land rights and patterns of land use, the reduction of cultural values and possible disputes under regional autonomy implementation. To prevent such impacts, a genuine cooperative (sejati dan mandiri) is proposed as the only suitable institution for the partnership incorporation.
· A sharp increase in unemployment and poverty fails to recognize both the complex confluence of events that have undermined the economy of the local people, but progress has been made in developing the region so far.
Meanwhile, economic recovery has not been fast enough, and as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Loan Program with the government is expiring very soon, the government is buying time for the economic changes needed to rebuild and reform the economy. What, then, will happen with the Indonesian tropical forest if the donor countries, for one reason or another, do not pay off the Ministry of Forestry?
With the United States reeling from terrorist attacks and Japan mired in a decade-long slump, Indonesia was supposed to steer the global economy through the storm. In a report prepared prior to a two-day annual donor's consultative group of governments on Indonesia (CGI) meeting, which began on 7 November 2001 in Jakarta, the World Bank painted a bleak picture of the Indonesian economy. Instead of embarking on much-needed economic reforms, Indonesia is likely to just "muddle through" its economic woe.
In addition, the United States, the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has not revoked its decision to remain outside the Kyoto Protocol framework, a decision announced by the United States President in March 2001. This is not good for Indonesia, which has begun developing a significant timber plantation estate, which could be valuable for reducing global warming in line with the Koyoto Protocol.
Communities within the forest land and/or its vicinity should be organized into cooperative ventures called koperasi tani hutan (forest farmer cooperative) (KTH), in order to guarantee successful gains at the social, technical and economic levels, and to be environmentally sustainable.
Such strong support from local institutions (both the local private sector and KTH) would ensure the implementation of integrated planning, community involvement and monitoring of the economic and technical feasibility as well as performance of all management activities with respect to sustainable, planted forest.
The growth of a comprehensive community-based development programmes to create jobs, send children to school, build community health centres, empower the poor to become responsible for their own development, nurture the environment and spread benefits equitably, requires broad participation. Above all, the voices of the poorest people must be listened to by all the stakeholders.
Quality growth is an effective way to prevent conflict and to rebuild confidence, societies and economies torn by Indonesia's recent multidimensional crisis.
Governments and people must carefully and clearly determine and understand the capacity of their forests and forest lands to provide these benefits, goods and services.
We are deeply sensitive to the importance and the critical nature of the above issues. Accordingly, we anticipate the sincere commitment, participation and support of all stakeholders in the region to successfully carry out this programme.
Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If the situation worsens and we fail to respond, our forests will face a far greater threat.
18 Director of the Forestry Department, PT Wira Karya Sakti, Wisma Bll Menara 2, JL. Thamrin 51 Indonesia. Tel.: 021 398 34473, fax: 021 39834707, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jakarta, 21 May 2002).