Since 1990, the Community Forestry Unit of the Forest Policy and Planning Division, Forestry Department, FAO has been working to fill an information gap related to the knowledge rural people have regarding the management of trees and forests in relation to their agricultural production systems.
Shifting cultivation systems and their sustainability as an approach to indigenous forest management have been greatly debated. They were first examined by the Community Forestry Unit in the 1991 publication "Shifting cultivators: local technical knowledge and natural resource management in the humid tropics", Community Forestry Note 8 which analysed the current state of knowledge of the subject. The subsequent Community Forestry Case Studies examine historically how indigenous knowledge is changing as it is influenced by changes in resource availability and/or the socio-political setting.
This case study, which continues the evaluation of these natural resource management systems, examines shifting cultivation as a potential basis for more sustainable natural resource management in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The analysis, which was researched and written by Carol J. Colfer, examines the process of change and development in the system of shifting cultivation practised by the Uma' Jalan Kenyah1 over three decades, tracing them from their homeland, through government-sponsored resettlement, to dispersal and formation into three new daughter communities. These four communities are compared with regard to population, land/forest use, productivity and land tenure.
The study grew from a 1979-1980 Man and Biosphere (MAB) project2, Interactions between People and Forests in East Kalimantan, and attempted to: examine shifting cultivation in several contexts, evaluate the effects of the Indonesian Government's programme to resettle Dayaks (the indigenous people of Borneo), and investigate the potential for participatory rural development. The MAB study identified and examined the impact of human actions on the forest; forest clearing for rice production emerged as the most important local human action affecting the forest in the resettlement village of Long Segar, East Kalimantan. The study of land and forest use on which this monograph is based, was thus begun.
It is hoped that through this series of studies the importance of local knowledge and resource management strategies will be recognized and used to help provide effective support to local people in their efforts to improve their well-being via tree and woodland management.
This study was partially funded by a multi-donor trust fund, Forests, Trees and People, which is dedicated to increasing the sustainability of women's and men's livelihoods in developing countries, especially the rural poor, through self-help management of tree and forest resources. Within FAO the Programme is coordinated by Marilyn W. Hoskins, Senior Forestry Officer for Community Forestry.
This study examines longitudinal data from four Uma' Jalan Kenyah Dayak villages in East Kalimantan in relation to forest management issues. Shifting cultivation, rather than being ignored or rejected by scientists and policymakers, could serve as a model for developing agroforestry technologies that are appropriate for tropical rainforests.
Quantitative data on land and forest use for rice cultivation have been examined from all families in four communities of Uma' Jalan shifting cultivators: Long Segar (1962 to 1990); Tanah Merah (1983 to 1990); Long Ampung (1985 to 1990); and Muara Wahau (1986 to 1990). Data on all except Long Ampung begin with the year of initial settlement. This longitudinal data set makes it possible to establish trends in yearly hectarage cleared, land and forest preferences, productivity, and agricultural constraints. The data is also analysed to show the impacts of environmental, social structural and technological factors, natural disasters and logging on selected aspects of the agroforestry system.
Long Ampung, the original homeland of all Uma' Jalan, is presented first, with particular emphasis on factors that influenced a large part of its population to move to more accessible areas of East Kalimantan in the mid-1960s. The factors examined are religion, politics and social change, land, and a variety of "pull factors" like education, medical care, consumer goods, and more sophisticated technology.
In Chapter 2 the growth and decline of the village of Long Segar is described at length, with pertinent statistical analyses of factors that characterised each period. Forest type, topography, household labour, and number of fields per household are examined for the initial period of settlement from 1962 to 1969. Social structural divisions (religion and the traditional distinction between aristocrats and commoners) emerge as important factors of change during the second period, from 1970 to 1974. During these years, community became a formal resettlement village, and survived two natural disasters (drought and rats). Long Segar's greatest population was reached between 1975-1979, a period without major natural disasters. Two technological devices, the outboard motor and the chainsaw, became common during this period. The impact of these are examined as they relate to land use and rice yields. The forest fires of 1983 dominated the next period (1980-1984), when people began to move away. Rice yields before and after the fires are compared to measure their possible impact on agriculture. As fields were made farther and farther away from the village, an area was cultivated near the Pantun Riyer where a timber company was actively logging. This provided an opportunity to compare rice production in recently logged and unlogged areas.
By 1985, many people had left Long Segar and formed new communities. The next section examines similar issues (forest and land use, agricultural production) in two of these daughter communities, the Muara Wahau Transmigration site and Tanah Merah, as well as in Long Ampung. The settlers in the Muara Wahau Transmigration site engaged in the most environmentally damaging form of agroforestry. Of the four communities, they were clearing the most forest per family, and getting the lowest yields (other than those of Long Ampung, which depends largely on comparatively infertile young secondary forest). They also had the largest family size of the four communities.
Tanah Merah, near the city of Samarinda, did not have a particularly damaging agroforestry system. The villagers were experimenting with new forms of agroforestry, trying to increase their productivity by incorporating more tree and other non-rice crops into it. They had in fact reduced their forest clearing, in a change from the Long Segar pattern, and their average household size was the smallest of the four communities.
Long Ampung, the most remote community, continued to practice a very sustainable kind of agroforestry, using the land in a cyclical manner, rarely cutting old growth forest. The absence of a market for potential surpluses, combined with the lack of easy access to means for increasing production, had kept this system much as it was in 1980.
Chapter 3 focuses on policy issues, first comparing four different aspects of the four communities: population, land use, production and land tenure. This comparison reveals that indigenous people contribute little to population growth in East Kalimantan; that each farm family needs from 15 to 40 ha of land to practice a sustainable form of agroforestry that will include maintenance of extensive areas of humid tropical rainforest; that the traditional system, though characterised by low rice yields, actually produces a great deal (including timber, non-timber forest products, a great variety of foods and medicines) and has important conservation functions; and that land tenure needs to be clarified and formalised.
The concluding policy recommendations include better control of the timber industry, acknowledgement of local people's claims to their land, incorporation of indigenous knowledge into agroforestry development efforts, cessation of projects which increase Kalimantan's population, and financial help for Indonesia from the community of nations to help with these efforts.
1 The Uma' Jalan are a sub-group of the Kenyah Dayaks, shifting cultivators of East Kalimantan, and the primary subjects of this study.
2 The Man and the Biosphere project was funded by the US Forest Service and conducted in collaboration with Mulawarman University, the Bogor Herbarium, and LIPI (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia) administered through the East-West Environment and Policy Institute.