Community Forestry Case Study 8:
The Impact of Social and Environmental Change on Forest Management: A Case Study from West Kalimantan, Indonesia

by Nancy Lee Peluso, Edited by Bernardine Atkinson

Chapter 1: Introduction

The study

In many parts of the world, forests, trees and their products provide the critical components of household, village, regional and national economies. This study investigates the dimensions of the dependence of swidden cultivators on forest resources in West Kalimantan. It provides an historical perspective, detailing how traditional swidden cultivators have adapted to political, economic, cultural and environmental changes. Some of these interactions have resulted in changed access to the forest and changes in traditional management practices and concepts of ownership, as well as the very ability of the people to continue to live as swidden cultivators.

To illustrate the complexity and specificity of social and environmental change on forest-dependent villagers, two case studies from Kalimantan have been selected. At the turn of the century, both villages would have shared a similar socio-cultural heritage. However, the two villages have experienced and responded to the profound social and environmental changes affecting West Kalimantan quite differently. Despite this, their dependence on the forest continues and this study makes particular reference to the forest products and practices that remain important to their livelihoods.

Background: West Kalimantan Province

The Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, on the equatorial island of Borneo, covers an area of 146 807 sq km. It is divided into six administrative districts (kabupaten) and the provincial capital is Pontianak.

Map 1: Location map of the Indonesian Province of West Kalimantan on the Island of Borneo.

The population of West Kalimantan in 1988 was 3 069 000 people, and it is growing rapidly: this number of people represents an increase of nearly 25 percent since 1980. The people now living in Kalimantan reflect a new diversity, which is in part due to the transmigration programmes that shift people from the more populated islands and the government policy of establishing settlements for retired police and army officers. The population growth has also been influenced by the influx of spontaneous migrants from Java, Madure, Sumatra, Bali and Sulawesi. Consequently, major social changes are taking place as the long-time ethnic mix of Dayaks, Malays and Chinese is expanded and diversified by migrants.

The most important effect of the increased population and population diversity has been the extent of associated land conversion. Plantations now occupy the large tracts of land which had previously been owned and managed as parts of mixed agroforestry systems by indigenous people. Transmigrants are frequently placed next to new plantations which, in West Kalimantan, are primarily monoculture oil palm or rubber.

Land use

Traditional smallholder agriculture systems in West Kalimantan range from wet-field (swamp, brackish water, or irrigated paddy rice) and dry-field production of annual crops, to various agroforestry regimes. The agroforestry practices include planting trees and crops in home gardens, forest enrichment planting and other forest management practices, such as selective logging.

Provincial statistics divide the land under smallholder agriculture in 1987 as illustrated in Table 1.

These statistics are not infallible. Village people tend to estimate the "extent" of their land by the amount of rice produced. People know exactly how many baskets of rice they plant each year and how much they produce: to them, the products of the land are more important than the amount of land itself. Some subdistrict and village officials admit that they "make up" their land use data because it is nearly impossible to know how much land is in fallow, how much is being cultivated and how much is managed for tree production at any given time. Moreover, there is no category for swidden lands in fallow, or other transitional stages.

Map 2: Kalimantan map with the locations of Sungai Bongkang & Bagak.

Table I: Agricultural Land Use in West Kalimantan
Land Use Area
Paddy land (sawoh) 26 060 ha
Tree gardens (tegal/kebun) 617 528 ha
Swidden fields (ladang/huma) 489 528 ha
Grasslands/pastures 60 248 ha
Swamp 341 108 ha
Homegardens and houses 431 816 ha


The indigenous people of West Kalimantan have experienced several major social and political changes since the early part of this century. These have included:

Together with these political and social influences, there have been significant environmental changes. Today, the West Kalimantan landscape continues to be transformed by logging, plantation development, the introduction of agrarian machinery (including the chainsaw) and by the construction of roads and other infrastructure associated with economic development and increased integration into the world market.


The Indonesian constitution gives the State legal control over all "forest land and water and the natural riches therein". The Basic Forestry Law (1967) affirms state ownership of all land classified by the State as forest. Today, the Ministry of Forestry has the authority to control access to most rights of forest exploitation and has the responsibility for collecting the relevant fees, taxes and royalties (GOI-IIED, 1985).

Forests are managed for multiple uses, but for the past 20 years commercial logging rights have superseded virtually all other rights to exploit or use production forests (Barber, 1989). Though the percentage of foreign exchange provided by timber to the Indonesian economy has been declining in the wake of a massive government effort to export non-oil and non-timber commodities, wood products are still the country's most important export after oil and natural gas.

About 40 percent, or some 64 million ha of Indonesian forests are production forests. In total, some 32 percent of Indonesia's forests and 40 percent of the nation's production forest are found in Kalimantan.

Sixty-three percent of the province of West Kalimantan is legally classified as forest land, but less is actually under forest cover. This is because "forest land" is a political category referring to the desired classification of land uses for the province. An unknown amount of this land has been overlogged or swiddened, or has not been under forest cover for generations. Often it is under Imperata cylindrica and other grasses. The Ministry of Forestry wishes, eventually, to reforest. Some 16 percent of the official forest land is "conversion forest", meaning that it has been or will be converted to other land uses, such as plantations or transmigration schemes. Much of the land classified as agricultural land is actually under tree cover, in mature oil palm or rubber monoculture plantations, or under other complex and sophisticated agroforestry systems1.

Most production forests in Kalimantan have been leased to private companies via territorial concessions which give them rights to cut timber. By law, commercial logging in Kalimantan's production forests follows a selective logging system - only individuals of a certain species (mostly Dipterocarpaceae) and size (>50 cm diameter at breast height) are cut.

Swidden forest activity

Customary laws governing forest access are legally viewed as subsidiary to national law. The law states: "The exercise of customary rights, whether individual or communal, to exploit forest resources directly or indirectly ... may not be allowed to disturb the attainment of [the tenents of Basic Forest Law]." (Basic Forestry Law of 1967, in Barber, 1989.)

Though this is the stated, formal or de jure attitude, in practice, de facto access situations exist where customary rights continue (both comfortably or at times, uncomfortably) despite the official forest policy.

In Kalimantan, as in many of the forested areas of Indonesia, customary rights have always included rights to clear forest for agriculture. At any one time, the profile and pattern of a forest in Kalimantan can reflect the complex and dynamic management practices of the swidden cultivators. However, Indonesian foresters and other officals ignore the evidence supporting the sustainability of many forms of indigenous swidden agriculture. This is due, in part, to the colonial Dutch foresters' misunderstanding of swidden agriculture and to the post-independence policy to stamp it out. Not surprisingly, they also fail to appreciate that forest village people are skilled forest managers (Dove, 1983, 1985; Thapa and Weber, 1990; Weinstock, 1990). Though officials today usually express their concern about "slash and burn" agriculture for ecological reasons, this concern may not be well-founded. The fact remains that swiddening the Dipterocarp forests of Borneo cuts into the potential revenues from logging.

Some of the early forest regulations (1960s) peripherally addressed the rights of local people to harvest forest products, but this access was confounded by the decision to invalidate traditional forest access mechanisms while industrial timber harvesting operations were carried out within the forest communities' territories.

Later legislation granted village tree owners limited compensation for damages incurred in logging operations (which the timber companies did not always pay), but the only trees considered eligible were those regarded as agricultural products, such as rubber or fruit.

Overall, it appears fair to deduce that the rights of local people to unplanted but managed forest products are rarely officially recognised. This is because the villagers' rights and roles in their management and use are neither understood nor acknowledged. Consequently, the forest village people are subject to displacement, impoverishment and confrontations which can result in violence. However, as the case studies described in this publication show, an "ethic of access", which facilitates some traditional swiddening activities of the indigenous forest village people, is unofficially acknowledged and practised.

The labour gender division of swidden cultivators tends to be fluid. Very few tasks are considered to be exclusively the role of a man or a woman. The making of holes with a dibble stick for planting hill rice or the filling of holes with seed by men and women respectively, are frequently interchanged between sexes. However, weaving mats and baskets is generally women's work and, although men contribute to household activities such as cooking, washing, childcare, collecting fuelwood and preparing food for pigs, these activities are mainly done by women. Men are generally responsible for fishing and hunting.

The case study hamlets

The hamlets chosen for the study are Bagak and Sungai Bongkang. They share a common heritage, they have lived as swidden cultivators in the forests of West Kalimantan for centuries. Both villages are populated by indigenous Bornean people. Each had, and has, relatively egalitarian social organizations, with no classes of aristocrats or slaves. Historically, neither used resources in an expansionary or imperialistic manner vis-a-vis other settled groups in the region (i.e. they had not been aggressive headhunters). Although access to land or forest was not a constraint for either of them, they were relatively sedentary. For several hundred years, each paid tribute intermittently to representatives of Malay sultans.

Access to the forest and long-term forest management in both villages was allocated according to a range of customary institutions including private and common property. In each, the nature of villager property rights was related to inheritance and the amount of labour invested in their management.

A detailed summary of the methods used to carry out the case studies is in the Appendix. Chapter 2 investigates the villages' shared, traditional practice of swidden agriculture and commonly used forest products. Chapter 3 details the range of customary institutions for allocating resources. Chapter 4 addresses the village of Sungai Bongkang specifically, and Chapter 5 concentrates on Bagak. A discussion is provided in Chapter 6, and Chapter 7 concludes the text.


  1. It has been difficult to describe and quantify actual land cover in West Kalimantan; airphoto and satellite coverage is problematic due to a 75-90 percent rate of cloud cover.


Chapter 2: Forest Management

Swidden agriculture

While swidden agriculture is frequently called "shifting" or "slash and burn" agriculture (the Indonesian term, perladangan berpindah-pindah translates as "shifting agriculture"), it is often not shifting at all. On the contrary, in many places swidden cultivation constitutes a single part of a long-term agroforestry system, involving very long and complex rotations of crops and trees on various patches of land. One consequence of this activity is that the mix and relative dominance of annuals and perennials or woody and non-woody cultivars changes dramatically over decades or generations. Swiddeners do not simply slash and burn forest, moving without pattern or plan from one place to another. Their forest management practices, and the purpose associated with various practices and various products, have been particularly misunderstood. It is important to redress this lack of understanding.

Practical swidden agriculture

In practical swidden agriculture, all staple foods can be said to come from the forest, although the forest's function in the production of rice, maize, vegetables and fruits sometimes appears to be limited to supplying ash for fertilizer.

After clearing a swidden from old growth forest species, the household will cultivate that land for one or two years and then determine its future use. The swidden plot can be left as a relatively unaltered fallow - reserved for future field crop cultivation. Meanwhile, the owner and villagers will use the wild or encouraged successional species that may grow in the fallow. Alternatively, the fallow field can be planted in fruit trees (explicitly including durian and/or illipe nut trees) or some kind of cash crop such as rubber, cocoa, illipe nut or pepper.

After swiddening, therefore, the household makes important decisions about how a plot of land will be managed. These decisions will not only affect the plot's species composition and the configuration of indigenous rights to the land and resources, but will also affect the decisions that the household makes about its other lands, trees and the forest to which it has access.

It is important to recognise that decisions not to plant economic trees or not to clear areas do not mean the forest is not managed. Decisions not to clear certain kinds of trees, their habitats, or whole areas of the forest desired for their forest products, are active, though somewhat invisible, management decisions; so are the means of regulating access to specific products within a "low-impact" management area/habitat.

Forest cleared for swidden is either eventually returned, through natural or managed succession, to old growth cover over a very long period (sometimes as long as hundreds of years) or swidden fallows are converted permanently to fruit and rubber gardens, mixed with a variety of encouraged "wild", successional species. In essence, it appears that over generations the swidden use of forests is sustainable.

Forest products

A critical component of the agroforestry systems developed by forest swiddeners, and a critical component of household food security, is the use of trees, tree products and other forest products, whether in home gardens, tree gardens or old growth forest.

Old growth forest is the major source of land used for swidden agriculture, although swiddens are also made in recent secondary forest. Local people depend on this mature forest for products such as rattan, ironwood, medicinal plants and wild game food. Planted trees include rubber, durian and other fruit trees, and illipe nut. Found and managed trees include the damar producing Agathis species, ironwood and various species of canopy emergents - those preferred by bees for making hives.

Customary access rights, and the management practices which serve as indicators to these rights, are specific to each product or type of product and vary both within and between land use types.

Tables 2 and 3 provide a guide to the province's production of selected forest products, fruit and trees which are most commonly developed, used and most valued by swidden cultivators. Because of the problems of data reliability, these figures must be regarded as estimates.

TABLE 2: Production of Selected Forest Products, West Kalimantan
Year Rattan Shingles* Tree Bark Damar Illipe Nut
69/70 1 875 520 9 277 200 68 812 684 495 1 290 726
70/71 1 481 779 5 360 630 49 655 555 704 4 575 800
71/72 7 279 327 9 138 850 36 800 1 187 602 1 181 800
72/73 9 768 958 9 493 200 34 100 761 988 -
73/74 9 348 820 7 271 690 28 000 511 071 16 748 360
74/75 6 483 747 7 641 150 24 575 701 633 1 778 320
75/76 5 279 614 4 803 200 19 056 191 578 620 200
76/77 2 819 801 2 214 825 676 369 752 580 9 811 455
77/78 5 000 000 4 000 000 15 000 350 000 6 159 850
78/79 4 742 048 5 772 825 115 000 747 194 2 000 000
79/80 2 235 930 4 143 850 16 883 150 363 240 000
80/81 5 833 500 3 448 900 68 000 254 750 611 000
81/82 2 219 290 3 320 000 - 352 800 5 634 221
82/83 1 778 866 2 078 600 67 445 341 543 1 722 433
83/84 1 006 191 2 119 500 236 200 434 446 10 640 301
84/85 465 104 1 403 000 234 080 185 230 100 000
85/86 685 059 11 876 600 398 279 167 570 121 325
86/87 268 201 1 117 000 383 566 216 860 1 982 980
87/88 323 295 50 000 1 556 692 144 748 14 438 819
88/89 214 643 10 000 3 279 910 164 140 56 500
Sources: Produksi Hasil Hutan Selama Pelita I,II,III,IV; Statistik Kehutanan Kalimantan Barat, 1988/89.
* Shingles in pieces not in kilograms

Table 3: Production of Selected Fruits in West Kalimantan
Fruit 1984/85 1985/86 1986/87 1987/88 1988/89
Durian 9 157 22 652 22 359 8 632 9 731
Langsat/duku 5 376 5 056 4 703 1 255 1 381
Rambutan 259 1 366 5 373 1 957 2 076
Source: Statistik Kehutanan Kalimantan Barat, 1988/89.


Damar is the name given to the variety of resins which come from species in the Agathis genus. It has a variety of local uses, as well as being a valuable commodity for sale or exchange. It is easily stored, and in poor years damar is traditionally exchanged for coffee, sugar, salt and tobacco. It was also used by forest villagers as a fuel before kerosene was introduced.

Using a small axe, the villagers collect damar from old growth forest throughout the year - during the wet and dry periods. There are three valued types of damar. The most expensive is called damar mata kucing, a clear shiny type of resin, which is exported for use in turpentine and paint. Damar cocok (or tengkuyung) is used for fires and light; it is tinted slightly - red, mixed with white spots. Villagers pound this damar and put it into bamboo tubes to make torches. Cocok is also pounded with kerosene to make it soft enough for caulking. Another type of damar, a hard black or white resin called kedumuk, has no local use and is sold or traded outside the villages.

In the past, local collectors would sell damar to a regional head of customary law, who then sold it to a Chinese trader. Eventually the damar was purchased by Dutch traders, who exported it.

Illipe nut trees

Illipe nuts come from the Shorea genus. Like other members of the Dipterocarpaceae family, Shorea trees are masting (fruiting) trees - fruit tends to come out in abundance every four years (but there is some variation in local trees). The nuts are collected and sold, or they can be pressed and processed for their buttery-like oil. Domestic and wild pigs like the nuts, so in masting years wild boar hunting nearby is quite good.

As with other forest products, the years of "good" and "bad" illipe nut harvests have become historical markers. The best seasons in recent memory were 1959, 1968, 1982 and 1987. As in the past, illipe nuts are still sold to Chinese and Malay traders. Most villagers sell the nuts as they collect them, without any treatment or processing. A few aim for a higher price by drying the nuts before selling them.

The nut trees that are most valued by the indigenous people are those of a species planted by their ancestors, generally in swidden fallows near riversides or close to their longhouse villages.

The illipe nut-producing varieties of Shorea are also valued by timber extractors for their handsome wood, which makes an expensive type of plywood or veneer. In recent years, agents for timber companies or independent entrepreneurs have travelled through the districts of West Kalimantan looking for people willing to sell their trees. But the illipe nut is one of the most highly valued fruit trees, and forest villagers are reluctant to sell them. The ancestors of these people especially valued illipe nut trees because, like durian, the trees are symbolic of kinship and common descent. Harvest of customarily owned illipe nut trees is now legally restricted.


Rubber trees were infrequently planted before World War II; it is only since the 1970s that the prices for rubber have made it worthwhile for traditional swiddeners to plant and tap the trees to any significant degree. Rubber trees are only planted for the purpose of earning cash.


Ironwood (Eusideroxylon zwageri) has long been an important product of the old growth forest. Traditionally, the valued stock was used sparingly by villagers for local construction. It was rarely harvested for commercial purposes, although ironwood shingles could be sold for cash to buy food - the timber's straight fibres made slicing sections of the log into shingles with an axe or a bush knife (parang) relatively easy and quick. Posts and poles could also be hewn with an axe and sold in the larger centres. However, when ironwood was used primarily for subsistence and when the technology used in its exploitation was simply an axe, the great size and density of the tree generally precluded people's cutting large numbers of ironwood trees to sell as lumber.

Since 1987, both commercial and subsistence uses of ironwood have exploded. As government and logging roads penetrate further into provincial Kalimantan, the local markets have ballooned. Chainsaws have accelerated the exploitation of forests; however, they have also made it possible to use different types of wood for local construction. Many timbers were discarded as unsuitable by the villagers because the wood could not be cut with axes for boards or posts - the fibres were not straight and the boards would crack. Fibre structure is not a problem when these species are cut with a chainsaw. Unfortunately, the quality of the new timbers being used in house construction is much lower than ironwood and other tree barks, which used to dominate longhouse construction. Villagers call most Dipterocarp species "class-two wood". In practical terms, this means that within a decade or two, walls and other parts of houses will need to be replaced. When it is available, ironwood is still used for foundations and house frames, as well as for roof tiles, but there will soon be no mature ironwood trees in the forest for new home builders to use in construction.

The Indonesian Government regards ironwood as a species which requires special protection, and only trees over 60 cm in diameter at breast height(dbh) are legally allowed to be harvested. Until the late 1980s, the government formally required villagers wishing to cut ironwood to submit a logging plan for up to 100 ha at a time. Even under this regulation, the local subsistence harvest of ironwood was only allowed in forests which were not protection forests or in production forests for which logging concessions had not yet been assigned. Therefore, the regulation could not legally be applied in the majority of Kalimantan forests. Moreover, because no formal recognition of village forms of resource allocation in the case of ironwood was granted by the government, the tree remained open to exploitation. No national-level forest policy for the controlled harvest of ironwood could be effectively enforced.


Rattan is a type of climbing palm with long, thin, many-jointed pliable stems. It is a very useful adjunct to other forest construction materials and can be used to make cane furniture, mats and baskets. Rattan is found growing wild and as a managed successional species. It is particularly valued for making woven mats and baskets.

Traditional forest villagers may spend several days collecting enough rattan for weaving purposes. It can take up to two days labour to collect enough rattan to make a single mat. To make mats, the slender rattans are mixed with the bark of a Kayu taup tree. The tree is a successional species that grows wild in swidden fallows (jami risah). A 4 x 2.5 m mat requires about 10 trees of 10 to 15 cm in diameter. If trees of 18 to 21 cm in diameter are available, eight trees are enough. Bark preparation takes about two to three days. The wood of K. taup is not used for anything else and is discarded, though the fruit is slightly sweet and can be cooked.

Each mat requires about 125 strips of rattan, two to three metres in length. To process the rattan, each piece is divided into core and skin; the core is discarded and the skin is cut into four strips. The bark of the K. taup tree is pounded, then dried in the sun until there is a quantity measuring about 4 x 2.25 metres. The rattan strips are then woven through the bark fibres. If the weaver works only on making a mat, weaving can be completed in two or three days. Mats last at least 10 years and sell for between Rp. 40 000 - 50 000.

Virtually all baskets are made from rattan. The baskets used for rice planting and harvests are called jongkot or juah. One small juah requires eight pieces of rattan or 10 to 11 m in total. The larger jongkot requires 12 pieces.

Arenga palm

Arenga palm (Arenga pinnata) is a pioneer successional species that grows in newly-fallowed swiddens. The palm is not only a wild source of food - its pulp is edible like sago, its sap is used for sugar or sweet juice and its leaves are used for thatch, mats and hats. Arenga sugar and woven goods can be sold for cash.


Durian is one of the most important fruit trees grown by swidden cultivators, not only because it is a staple food, but also because in some villages it can provide a ready source of cash income.

The durian harvest entails waiting for the fruit to drop. The fruit is at the peak of its flavour when it actually drops from the tree, but it must be eaten within a day or two of dropping, or it spoils. An expedient harvest is absolutely critical to enjoying the fruit.

Honey trees

Kayu tapang is one of the emergent trees in the rainforest where honeybees make their hives, and these trees are highly valued. Claims can be made upon honey trees by finding them in the forest and marking them, indicating an intent to climb. When young seedlings are found in the forest, they are protected and their growth is encouraged by slash weeding.

Candlenut trees

The candlenut (keminting) tree (Aleurites moluccana) is a wild successional species. Local people rarely use it. There is no traditional market for it; however, the nut is used in many Javanese dishes. As the Javanese population in the Kalimantan has grown over the past 20 years, a market for candlenut has also emerged. The nut is easy to dry, store and export to other regions of Indonesia.


Chapter 3: Rights and Tenure

Customary land and tree tenure

The rights of indigenous forest village people in West Kalimantan to convert or use particular forest territories and products are conveyed in multiple sets of customary access rules called adat. These rules vary from village to village, but in general there are three main types of property tenure: common property rights (CPRs); descent group common property rights (descent group CPRs); and, private property rights.

Common property rights are held either by the village as a whole or by descent groups. Descent group rights can be likened to "heirloom rights" and are shared among kith and kin. Private land rights for swiddening are recognised by the community for both individuals and families and, when ownership disputes arise, they are arbitrated by the village head or the head of customary law. Both men and women are accorded these rights, as they relate strongly to each individual's input of labour.

Traditionally, the private ownership of land was not considered to be very relevant. It was, however, important to own trees.

Common property rights

The largest common property is the village territory. These territories were established by the villagers' ancestors who pioneered settlement and created the traditional geographic boundaries. The Dutch colonial government then established formal boundaries which essentially followed these traditional divisions. Today, many of these divisions remain and are recognised by the contemporary Indonesian State.

Formerly, the village proper consisted of one or several longhouses, which in turn contained as many as 60 apartments located in a settlement area. Today, most village units consist of clusters of single family houses built in a residential section of the village territory. These separate households hold common property rights to the village territory and the forest products (both flora and fauna) within that territory.

Under the traditional laws of resource allocation, the land and forest surrounding the longhouse settlements remain village common property until the conditions for private claim or control are exercised by individuals or groups.

When another village, or other outsiders, seek access to the village's commonly owned resources they generally have to pay a "tax" to the whole village as common property owner. Most often, this tax takes the form of "two parts of 10", i.e., 20 percent of the harvested product, paid in kind and in situ. Thus a payment might consist of two rattan bundles per 10 collected, or two ironwood posts per 10 cut, payable in the forest or the swidden fallow in which the resouce was harvested. Alternatively, an outsider might pay some set fee in kind, such as a pig of a certain size. Today, cash transactions are becoming more common.

When common resources and products are sold, the group as a whole must usually agree to the transfer of ownership rights. When a great number of people jointly own a resource, its formal and approved transfer can be difficult and complex.

Some forest products are also village common property wherever they grow. The species which are most valued for firewood, for example, grow wild in the forest and in swidden fallows. Any villager can collect firewood from someone's garden or swidden fallow without asking permission. Similarly, most wild foods, such as mushrooms, greens, ferns and bamboo shoots, all of which grow in the forest, in old swidden fallows or in gardens, are village common property.

Certain other products are village CPRs when they are wild but private property when they are planted or protected. For example, wild pandanus growing in the forest is a village CPR, but if it is planted in swidden fallows, it becomes private property. Fish and wild game are village common property until someone traps or shoots them.

Descent group rights

Descent group common property rights are rights to trees or land held in common by the descendents of tree planters, tree protectors/managers, or forest clearers. The rights most often apply to trees and the fruit of trees. They are the rights retained by the children and grandchildren of the original tree planter or manager. Generally, the size of the descent group able to make a claim to fruit is limited by two factors: first, by an individual's relation to the tree planter, and second, by the individual's investment of some labour in the management of the resource in question. For example, whichever descendent invests his or her labour in clearing the old rubber trees for a swidden will receive at least temporary use rights to that land for swiddening.

The family's recognition of a person's right to clear trees from the land held by the descent group will be affected by their particular notion of the just distribution of their family's holdings. This "ethic of access" is a notion which influences villagers' allocation of rights to resources held in common. The individual's access to other privately held resources is taken into account when his or her share of access to and control over commonly held resources is to be determined by the family.

Rights of transfer for commonly held resources are restricted: if one or more of the coheirs wants to cut or sell the tree or, in some cases, sell the land, all the other heirs should be asked permission and should be given a share in the profits or the wood. Failure to do so can result in family censure or in a hearing with village leaders and the payment of a customary fine.

Allocating descent group rights

The determination of who has rights to the fruit or land in any one year can be a very complex procedure. Because birthrights can be inherited bilaterally - i.e., men and women have equal rights of inheritance - the members of each household are generally involved in a number of different ownership groups. Thus they are involved in a variety of descent group decisions about how to allocate access to specific trees and pieces of land. In allocating the resources, families take different factors into account, but two considerations are common among many village families: first, the relative amount of fruit produced by a particular tree, and second, the other resources to which individuals have access. The first consideration illustrates the complexity of ecological issues involved in allocation of access, because individual trees do not produce the same amount every year. The second consideration illustrates the complexity of the socio-economic issues involved in allocation, because the assets of all coheirs are considered each year when deciding how to divide up production. Whether or not they already had access to other fruit trees often influences their own claims on the various resources they hold in common with other households or individuals. But both the number of trees to which they have access and the variability of these trees' productivity must be considered on a year by year basis. Allocations are also calculated in terms of who had access in previous years.

There are many different ways of allocating access to forest fruit trees. Almost all, however, require the claimant's presence when the fruit falls. If a claimant cannot be present during the harvest, he or she forfeits rights to the fruit, unless prior arrangements have been made with the other heirs. Other systems involve the rotation of harvests among heirs or contractors, whereby people take turns harvesting the fruit: each one for a certain number of days or nights. In some families or under some circumstances, heirs take turns with different trees in different years. At other times, one heir gets all the trees in one year and another receives them all in another year.

The important trends to note in the rotation of rights to descent group trees and land are as follows:

Private rights

Private rights to land and forest products are generally recognised by forest village communities if one or all of three circumstances prevail: (a) there is an investment of labour in the land or in the product's management; (b) inheritance; or (c) prior claim (finder's rights).

For trees, private rights are recognised when an individual plants, harvests, maintains (manages), and protects the tree. The rights to newly-planted trees are maintained by the planter and his household, while old trees are jointly-owned by the planter's descent group. Generally, men and women inherit rights in fruit trees equally. Finding and marking a tree also constitutes an ownership claim, but often further evidence of some management is required to uphold the claim.

Besides claims based on labour investment and inheritance, private rights may be acquired through gift or purchase.

Customary fines

Community sanctions have protected individual and household claims on both land and trees. Cutting someone's planted or managed trees, wherever they are located (in old swiddens, forest or home gardens), has always been grounds for levying a customary fine. The payment of fines for cutting trees can be compared to the payment of fines for taking someone's life: although the amount for the latter is significantly higher, the process and the justification are basically the same, because both acts deprived another's descendants of a livelihood.

Different types of customary fines must be paid according to the severity of the offence. Chinese porcelain bowls, as well as brass gongs and other decorative brass items, are used in various quantities to settle disputes. The most valued item used to settle a dispute is the large jar called tempayan tajau. If the offender has trouble acquiring the specific jars required to pay, the fine can be paid with cash, trees, swidden fallows or pigs. In addition, the wrongful party often has to sponser a feast, providing pigs, chicken and rice.

Fines increase according to the level at which the dispute is finally settled. If a dispute arises with a different language group, the heads of customary law of each village will meet to discuss the terms of settlement. It is considered shameful if people from outside the village know about disputes, thus, unless the situation is highly contested, or virtually unsolvable, villagers rarely bring their disputes to the attention of the civil authorities at the subdistrict or district levels.

Recently, customary law leaders have met to determine the monetary values of traditional fines. These fines have been standardised in some districts.

Labour arrangements

The swiddeners' access to resources is highly dependent on both the amount of labour available and the season.

Labour gender divisions

There are marked differences in each household's ability to access resources through labour and, in general, these differences depend on both the household members' physical well-being and the household's life cycle stage. Age is a significant differentiator because it plays a large part in one's capacity to work. It is also a significant factor in determining the ownership of resources.

The seasons affect household income and the household capacity to work in several different ways. Not only is the quality of the harvest determined by the season, but much of the valuable fruit, especially durian, ripens at the same time as other staple foods, such as rice. Both fruit and rice must be harvested as soon as they are ripe, and this can present a problem for households with limited labour. However, this simultaneous crop ripening has facilitated various types of labour arrangements and, in effect, serves to distribute access to resources around the village.

Four kinds of labour arrangements prevail among swidden cultivators and are as follows:


Chapter 4: Case Study One: Bagak

The hamlet of Bagak

Bagak is a hamlet, one of two belonging to the village of Bagak Sahwa. It is located in Tujuh-belas, a subdistrict of West Kalimantan's Sambas District, on a well-paved secondary road running from the coastal city of Singkawang inland towards Bengkayang.

The population of Tujuh-belas was 54 797 in 1988, with an average population density of 120 per sq km. This is high for rural West Kalimantan, which averages 21 people per sq km. The population of the village of Bagak Sahwa is 1 096 people in 258 households. This study concentrates on the 112 households in Bagak. The other hamlet, Sahwa, was an old Chinese settlement downslope of the original Bagak longhouses. While the Dayaks of Bagak swidden cultivated the dry hills, the Chinese, from the late 1800s, cut the forest and dug the canals to drain the swamp and plant wet rice.

The hamlet of Bagak straddles the hillside between a forest (formerly all village territory) and swampy rice cropped lowlands. The current village territory is bounded to the east by the agricultural lands of adjacent villages; to the west by a Catholic mission; to the north by rubber plantation lands which are worked by a community of transmigrants hailing primarily from Java; and beyond, by the 3 000 ha nature reserve - Cagar Alam Gunung Raya Pasi. Special transmigration settlements for retired police and army officers are also located on the northern and eastern borders of the village. Today the hamlet of Bagak is surrounded by permanent settlements of one kind or another and has no room for agricultural expansion.

According to village statistics, the Dayaks' village territory consists of 2 700 ha. One third (900 ha) of this land is officially part of the nature reserve and has been reserve status for 50 years under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Forestry's Department of Nature Conservancy.

The hamlet infrastructure

There are at least 10 small shops in the village. These sell a a variety of basic commodities ranging from salt, cooking oil and kerosene to shampoo, soap, homemade snacks in plastic bags and arak (Chinese alcohol). Most homes and these shops are lit by electricity which runs from 6 to 11 pm every night. Their water is piped into the village from the water source on the mountain, and every two or three houses share a water pump constructed several years ago by a Canadian aid group.

Bagak has easy access to outside markets and services. Several villagers own trucks or vans and use these for transporting goods and people back and forth between Singkawang and Bengkayang. For Rp. 200 (about 10 US cents), villagers can hitch a ride into Singkawang, where a plethora of open markets and Chinese shops offer whatever kind of goods they might need or desire.

Bagak Sahwa has its own government elementary school (INPRES), with seven teachers who live in a complex surrounding the school. Nyarumkop, the village bounding Bagak Sahwa to the west is the site of a Catholic mission school with grades 1 through 12. As a result, the village boasts 102 high school graduates and 167 middle school graduates. Some 63 percent of the villagers over school age finished at least six grades of school and only 22 percent call themselves illiterate. Nearly everyone in this village speaks Indonesian, the national language - even the older women, which is rare in many interior villages.

Bagak is the site of a government health clinic (Puskesmas) with a nurse and two paramedics (mantri kesehatan) available regularly. The village is also within an hour's ride, by mini-bus, of two hospitals, one in either direction.

The current agricultural production within the village is largely sedentary and involves a combination of wet-dry field cultivation with fruit and rubber gardens production in complex and sophisticated agroforestry systems. This differs significantly from the swiddening way of life of their ancestors.

Evolution of the community

The Salako Dayaks' ancestors lived in longhouses on the upper slopes of the Gunung Raya Pasi complex which consists of two mountains and associated foothills ranging from approximately 900 to 1 500 m above sea level. The area has been a nature reserve and watershed protection area since the 1930s. One of the great leaders of these Dayaks was named Bagak, and the area they inhabited, on top of Bukit Satipo (Satipo mountain), was called Bagak Atas (Upper Bagak). The Salako Dayaks cut and burned fields for swidden agriculture in the surrounding hills and planted fruit trees in their swidden fallows and around their longhouses. Village elders claim that their ancestors occupied this area for several hundred years. They use as evidence the ceramics scattered around the cemetery, where the greatest warriors are buried. Although they have continually occupied this mountainside, they have moved the site of their longhouses several times. One previous move was precipitated by an epidemic of measles which swept through the community and killed an estimated 70 percent of the people. The survivors believed that the epidemic was related to the site and consequently moved.

The Salako Dayaks of Bagak had no aristocratic class. They were governed by a longhouse head (kapalo kampokng) and a head of the region (kepala benua). While they lived on the mountain, they supplemented their primarily subsistence economy with the occasional sale of local forest products. The community sold fish, illipe nuts, savory preserved durian (tempuyak) and sweet durian cakes (lempok) to Chinese traders who came to the longhouses seeking them.

The Malays and the Dutch

The first non-Dayaks to lay a claim to some of the forest resources managed by the Bagak Dayaks were Malays. Indeed, an envoy of the Malay sultan periodically visited to collect taxes and tribute called ase. The tax was paid in powdered gold from the river. Malays also bought forest products, especially damar, and reportedly kept a resin warehouse in the adjacent subdistrict of Samalantan as late as 1915, before the missionaries came.

The Dutch Colonial Administration placed Bagak and Sahwa in the subdistrict Singkawang. For many years the colonial government supported the Malay sultan's control of the region and had very little contact with the Dayaks. Until 1920, the Bagak Dayaks were still heavily dependent on their swiddens and the surrounding forest and maintained virtually complete de facto control of their forest resources, except for tribute payments and the sale of forest products such as resin and illipe nuts to Malay and Chinese buyers. Fruits were cultivated primarily for local consumption, but some were sold to traders from the city of Patangahan. Only the best fruits were sold; these included durian (Durio zibethanus), langsat (Lansium domesticum) and cempedak (Artocarpus integra).

The first consistent, direct contact with the Dutch came through Catholic missionaries. The missionaries arrived in 1916 and negotiated with the Dayaks for land, but were not successful. However, the leaders of the longhouse at Nel Mudi (near today's Nyarumkop) allowed them to settle and establish a school on some of their land in the shadow of the mountain. Some people moved down from the mountain and converted to Catholicism, and some local children began attending the Catholic school.

Nature reserve established

In 1920, the Dutch began to make plans to turn the upper slopes of the Gunung Raya Pasi complex into a nature reserve. A water catchment was to be constructed within the proposed reserve from which water would be piped into the city of Singkawang. The reserve was needed to protect the watershed area.

The Dutch Controlleur visited the longhouses within the intended reserve area to convince the leaders that their people should move down to the lower slopes. The Dutch not only wanted the people to move, but they also wanted to permanently prohibit access to the forest which the people had traditionally occupied. This meant abandoning the fruit trees planted in old and current longhouse sites and forfeiting their rights in the land used by the present occupants and their ancestors for swidden agriculture.

Although the longhouses were not dismantled all at once, over time the residents moved down from the mountaintop to establish the villages of Bagak, Nyarumkop, Pasar and Pajintotn. Their new longhouses were much shorter than the original houses (up to 60 apartments), consisting of five or six dwellings and numerous single family houses. The last households did not move from the top longhouses until 1940 - eight years after the nature reserve was officially established and mapped. Some of the last families to move down did so only because of the Controlleur's threats to put them in jail. People who continued to make swiddens above the reserve boundaries were put into jail. However, the head of the new settlement continued to negotiate with the Dutch to modify the reserve boundaries in order to accommodate the Dayaks' rights of access to the fruit trees and swidden gardens within the reserve. Though it is not clear when, the reserve boundary was eventually moved up the mountain, above the old longhouse sites, four or five km from the water catchment equipment site. The people of Bagak celebrated their victory, or at least the achievement of a compromise, by having a "forest feast" (pesta udas) at the new border.

World War II

The forest and its products were especially important for local subsistence during World War II. While the Dutch fled the occupying Japanese, the Dayaks and the Chinese of Bagak hid in the nature reserve for several weeks before returning to their village. Not only did the forest provide refuge, but the local people took control of it once more, making swiddens as they wished. One villager laughed: "When the Dutch left, the mountain burned!"

Given the hardships of the time, this was no small victory. People found food where they could. They ate cassava, their hill rice having been eaten by deer and wild boar. They made bark clothing. They were not allowed to have weapons and trapped wild boar using traditional methods.

The Indonesion Revolution

Although the Dutch once again occupied Bagak/Patangahan during the Indonesian Revolution (1945-49), there were no foresters to restrict people's de facto access to the nature reserve, so the Bagak villagers returned to the reserve area to make swiddens.

Following independence, many people actively planted rubber and durian. Markets were improving, but access to the reserve was again restricted. Hence, it became increasingly important for the villagers to claim land through their trees. In fact a subtle change was occurring: where traditionally the fruit trees were private property and considered more important than the land, a claim to the land was becoming equally important and necessary.

This initial privatization of ever larger tracts of land, combined with externally imposed access restrictions to the nature reserve, caused about half the village, 30 apartments, to move to Maya Sopa. There, more mature forest and land remained unclaimed and villagers were free to make swiddens where they wanted.

During the Indonesian Confrontation (Konfrontasi) with Malaysia (1960-63), the Dayaks were still primarily subsisting on the hill rice that they produced themselves. By the mid 1960s, however, many people were no longer able to produce their year's supply of rice on their own land; they had to buy rice. This loss of rice self-sufficiency has continued to the present time and remains a concern to people who once prided themselves on their ability to produce enough rice for a year's consumption. Some are not concerned about the loss of rice self-sufficiency because they can subsist on income earned by producing rubber.

The expulsion of the Chinese

In the past when the Dayaks practised swidden agriculture in the hills, the swampy lowlands were farmed by Chinese agriculturalists of the Hakka dialect group. The agrarian policy implemented by the Dutch Colonial State in 1870 prohibited the Chinese and other "non-native" people from owning the land. The Chinese could, however, effectively undertake agreements which acted like long-term leases. Their settlement, Sahwa, was established soon after the Chinese began mining gold at nearby Montrado (Chew, 1990). Although they did not formally own the land, they consistently made improvements to it and increased its productivity, growing rice for their own consumption and for sale to the Chinese gold miners at Montrado. They were also responsible for planting the first rubber trees.

According to one story, a Chinese planter from Nyarumkop brought rubber seeds to the village from Singapore. He planted a rubber garden, and people of other villages were allowed to take seeds from him. Rubber remained largely a Chinese crop until 1937, when rubber sold for 12 se/kg. Then the Dayaks began to plant rubber.

Villagers said that their relations with the Chinese had been good from early times until the various periods of communist activity in West Kalimantan - the Konfrontasi and the period called "jaman". Prior to these times there was plenty of land for everyone - the Dayaks planted swiddens and the Chinese cultivated their paddy fields.

These cordial relations conflict with the picture painted by some other villagers, who discuss the local Dayaks' historical relationship with the Chinese in the terms used in the official versions of Indonesian history. They say the local people were never given the opportunity to work paddy land, and that the Chinese exploited the Dayak people. These contentions may be true in terms of labour relations in rubber production, but other evidence suggests that the Dayaks were not exploited and preferred their autonomy. It is more likely that the lack of room to expand and the consequent pressure to privatize resources began to strain relationships with the Chinese. In addition, the independent Indonesian State discriminated between "indigenous" and "non-indigenous" people. These changes and ideological emphasis perhaps contributed to local people's willingness to help evict the Chinese from the lands they had cultivated and managed for generations.

In 1968, the Indonesian army, assisted by some local Dayaks, enforced the movement of the Chinese from the agricultural areas to urban centres such as Sambas, Singkawang and Pontianak. By the end of the 1960s rural Chinese had virtually no access to land and had lost most of their control over rubber gardens.

When it became clear that the Chinese were not going to be allowed to reclaim their land, a council consisting of the head of customary law, some villagers and Indonesian military men, divided their land among the local people - approximately 150 ha of rubber plantations, fruit gardens and lands. There were some people who refused to take any of this land, feeling as one villager said, "that the land was filled with tears". However, after the occupation of the lands, many villagers had more secure access to rice and benefited from the rubber plantations.

Resurgence of rubber tree planting

In 1980-81 a government project to plant high-yielding varieties of rubber was introduced. Many old rubber gardens, wild swidden fallows and home gardens abandoned by the Chinese were cut down to provide land for the "People's Rubber Plantation Project" (PPKR). Ironically, the status of all land converted to PPKR became state land. The first PPKR area of 42 ha was planted in 1981-82. In 1982-83, another 87 ha were planted and a further 80 ha over the following three years. The project required the farmers to take credit packages to fund the clearance of the area with herbicides and fungicides and plant the high-yielding varieties.

This project has been successful for some, including those who could afford the labour inputs and the credit and those who did not lose their PPKR plots in an accidental fire in the early stages of the project.

Rubber collection, whether of high-yielding or local varieties, has, in the past few years, provided a regular income on which people depend to subsist. The yields from hill rice harvests have grown smaller as the swidden plot sizes have grown smaller due to population increases and the inability to expand.

High-yielding rice varieties

Villagers tried the high-yielding varieties of rice provided by the local agricultural extension agent, but the production schedules were difficult to coordinate with other demands on household labour (see Table 4). Consequently, nearly every one of the ensuing five years yielded a disappointing paddy harvest. In the best cases, households produced enough rice from both swidden and paddy fields for three to four months consumption.

As of 1991, the people had returned to planting local varieties of rice and a good harvest was expected.

The transformation of land use

The evolution of swidden agroforestry

Today, though slightly more than half the people living on Bagak's hillside still make small swidden plots, the importance of swidden rice cultivation has dramatically declined. Instead, the value and demand for fruit and rubber have increased steadily. This factor, together with easy access to markets and the changed political conditions and forest access of the village people, have cumulatively led the Bagak people to increase their productive tree capacity. Over time the Bagak Dayaks have transformed their agricultural practices from swiddening activities to the cultivation and management of economic tree varieties. With only 21 percent of the land under swidden fields and minimally managed swidden fallows, and 50 percent of the land under various types of managed forest, they are now clearly more "agroforesters" than "shifting cultivators".

Most people now view rubber, rather than rice, as their subsistence crop because it can be collected almost year round (excluding periods of drought or incessant rain). The fruit harvests, which occur between December and February, provide windfall income to pay large expenses.

Salako Dayak land use today

At any given time, each Bagak household manages numerous plots of land under different cropping systems for both subsistance and commercial purposes.

Fruit and rubber trees provide the basis of most household economies. The rice harvest in 1990 produced enough rice to last for only three months. Fruit and rubber trees have become the means for buying rice. All the villagers buy rice and other food, clothes, wood, cement, zinc, or other construction materials and pay school fees from the income derived from agroforestry production. Fruit production, particularly durian, has been one of the most profitable legacies of the villagers' ancestors. Nearly all villagers own some durian and rubber trees; those that do not have generally planted tree seeds for the future.

The average size of a paddy holding is 0.76 ha, but the average worked was 0.36 ha. The average size of a swidden is 0.36 ha - the swiddens are relatively small because of the constraints on access to new forest and the growing trend to produce fruit and rubber on old swidden fallows.

Specific land use practices

The exact amount of land under any particular land use is not clear; government land use categories are not consistent with local terms. However, the closer estimates suggest that more than half of the 1800 ha of village land outside the nature reserve is under various forms of agroforestry. Of this, more than 700 ha are in smallholder plantations, which are mixed tree gardens containing rubber, durian, langsat and other varieties of fruit and a variety of wild species used for timber, fuelwood and thatch together with wild rattan, bamboo and plants used for medicinal purposes. The PPKR rubber garden consists of 296 ha and the paddy fields constitute another 200 ha. Some 350 hectares are classified as swidden fields, including the fallows and land currently under cultivation. The remaining land, approximately 50 ha, is tanoh adat, or customary land, and consists of relatively large secondary regrowth.

The Salako terms used in Bagak to describe land and forest uses are described in Table 5.

Tenure and access to land use rights

De facto access to traditional territory

Although the nature reserve is by law off-limits to village use and anyone entering is required to have a permit, Bagak villagers still use it in a variety of low and high impact ways. For example, the poorest people, those constrained by lack of labour and the structure of the household (i.e. those with young families and those affected by bad luck and expensive sudden illnesses), commonly use the nature reserve to collect food - bamboo shoots, mushrooms and other saleable items such as bamboo, poles and rattan. Some poor people also travel beyond the reserve to other forest areas to collect poles and other wood to sell for fencing.

In this way, village people have retained de facto access to their traditional lands, even when it is legally closed to them. It is tolerated officially because the villagers strongly believe in an ethic of access that can be best summarized as a right for the poor to seek a living. Also, these activities cause minimal vegetational change, consequently, forest officials are lenient about people collecting fruit from trees within the reserve's boundaries. Locals also collect the fruit and manage the gardens planted at the old longhouse sites and in the swidden plots cleared by their ancestors. Here again is an example of how the villagers continue to access trees within a reserve claimed by the state, continuing to uphold the traditional concepts of rights vested in the tree planters and managers.

payo' swamp rice land, minimal if any drainage, no irrigation.
sawoh paddy rice land without technical irrigation, but some casual management for draining former swampy areas.
sawoh cetak newly made paddy rice land (1988), with technical irrigation.
umo a newly cleared swiddened field, planted in rice, maize, tubers, vegetables and other field crops. The same term is used whether the field was cleared from mature forest, an old fruit or rubber garden, or from a relatively young (5-10 years) swidden fallow.
babutotnn an old swidden field often planted in annual or perennial crops, except rice. Crops might include cassava, peanut, banana and kaladi.
jarami' (a) a swidden fallow which has not been replanted in annual crops;
(b) a kabon or swidden fallow with fruit or rubber trees planted in it, but not regularly cleared of under growth. The term "jarami'" refers to the grassy or bushy aspect of the land.
kabon a swidden fallow managed for fruit, rubber, or other kinds of agricultural crops (pepper or banana) and managed by continual slash clearing.
PPKR land under monoculture, high-yielding rubber trees. PPKR took over much of the land which used to be called "tanoh adat".
tanoh adat land under various types of secondary growth, which is not used intensively, but in the past was cleared for swiddens or residential land. Some of this land was formerly cultivated or occupied by the Chinese and Mandurese, who left in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively. Now land held as tanoh adat is considered commonly held village land. Presumably it could be privatized by using it for swidden agriculture, but much of the remaining tanoh adat is considered poor quality.
timawokng old living sites, where durian and other fruit trees are managed.
doopn utotn very old swidden fallows, approaching the size of udas and "forest-like" in character. The area is dominated by mature or non-productive trees such as rubber and fruit, which are managed with wild species of trees used for timber, fuelwood, etc.
udas very big forest, never cultivated within living memory or according to oral tradition. In Bagak, it refers to the forest area in the reserve which is not planted in village fruit trees.

Another example of the retention of de facto access rights can be found in the unofficial "buffer zone" located between the nature reserve and the oldest swidden fallows. The actual border delineating official control remains blurred as people continue to plant fruit and rubber trees within the reserve when they have a chance. This buffer zone lies between the reserve boundary and the sites of the old longhouses.

The practical access to the reserve that has emerged as a result of the villagers' continued de facto assertion of traditional, inherited rights enables them, in part, to practise a complex, long-rotation form of permanent agroforestry.

Changes in tenure and access to forest products

In Bagak, the three types of land and tree property rights correspond with those in the other case study village, Sungai Bongkang: private ownership, descent group common property rights and village common property rights. However, in Bagak, there is a growing trend towards increased private ownership of resources. Contracting resource rights is also becoming a common form of land tenure.

Private rights

Previously, in mature, unclaimed forest, cutting trees would have automatically given the clearer and his heirs rights to the land. This has not been possible since the designation of the greater part of the old growth forest as nature reserve. Today, the investment of labour by planting fruit trees is a way of indicating land ownership. Bagak villagers have no legal access to old growth forest for swiddening, but private rights can still be exercised when a descendent of a forest clearer makes a swidden of an old garden - the labour invested in clearing gives that individual prior rights over his or her siblings and coheirs.

Managing a wild resource also establishes private property rights. The candlenut tree - a wild successional species - produces a highly valued nut used in many Javanese dishes. When found, managed and guarded it becomes private property.

Besides the acquisition of private rights through labour and management, private rights may be acquired through inheritance, gift or purchase. In some families, the rights to parental swiddens and paddy fields are left to the adult child or other relatives who live with the parents and take care of them into old age. In other families, all the children may be designated as the private owners of some of the parental household's land or tree resources. Even after trees or land have been allocated as private property, close kin sometimes request permission to participate in the harvest of tree crops, or may request access to a piece of land for cultivation.

Descent group common property rights

Today in Bagak, land is most often inherited on a private basis. But, where a specific inheritor of a swidden fallow or rubber garden was not clearly designated by the owner before his or her death, the land or trees are shared communally according to the established pattern of descent group property rights.

In Bagak, descent group common property rights are given to all the children and grandchildren of the tree planter or manager. There are several different methods for allocating fruit or land between families, but usually only relations as close as second cousins can claim a particular share in the inheritance.

In relation to the harvest of fruit, almost all allocation systems require the claimant's presence when the fruit falls - durian reaches the peak of its flavour when it falls from the tree. In this village it is forbidden to climb a durian tree to collect the fruit. Coheirs must be present at the durian harvest in order to realize their claims to a share in the fruit. The decision about who gets the harvest rights in a particular year ideally is made by the whole family.

In their allocations the family considers the amount of fruit produced by a particular tree and the other resources to which the individual has access. There are some individuals in the village who have planted excessive numbers of fruit and rubber trees and managed them in a way to ensure regular and good harvests. These people do not always make claims on the fruit of trees they own in common with their other siblings. For example, both the husband and wife might have rights to numerous productive trees. One year they might choose to take a share of all the trees from the husband's side; the next year they might give up this share and harvest the fruits from the wife's side. Or a young woman or man might marry into a family with extensive fruit holdings to which they are likely to become heir; the rest of the family, or parents of the other spouse, may then decide to allocate their family-held fruit trees to other children or kin who do not have access to as many trees.

The distribution of commonly owned resources is guided by the fundamental principle that subsistence consumption is every claimant's right every year. This is a critical aspect of the "local ethic of access". Any coheir may participate in a harvest to eat the fruit planted by their ancestors or take home fruit for their children to eat. To do otherwise is considered bad form, the harbinger of bad luck.

Contracting trees

A key form of allocating access to fruit trees is by contracting them, "pajak", meaning to contract. There are two general types of pajak: the first where the tree is contracted for one season, called pajak musim; and the second where the tree is contracted for one or several years, pajak tahun. Seasonal contracts are made after the owner and contractor have seen the tree's potential production (i.e., after flowering), when both can make informed decisions about the wisdom and terms of the contract.

Tree owners generally enter into a <pajak musim if they do not have enough household labour to harvest all their fruits. The fruit harvest coincides with the rice harvest and, if there are not enough adults to harvest both the rice and the fruit, they may pajak some or all of their trees.

Pajak tahun is usually an emergency measure, taken only when the owner needs a large sum of cash immediately: the most common reason is family illness or injury. There are various types of pajak tahun, but the most common seems to be an arrangement wherein the contractor gains rights to the harvest for three years. The owner and the contractor will agree on whether that means three consecutive years or three "good" years. The contractor takes the risk in the first instance and the owner in the latter because a contract may have to be extended for five, seven or more years, depending on the season and the tree's productivity.

Village common property rights

These are the assets owned by the whole village which can be harvested and used by villagers without anyone's permission.

In Bagak these include:

Though extended family ownership has not yet disappeared as an important tenure institution, its predominance is clearly waning as inheritance of private property, trees and land, become more commonplace.

Access to residential land

When the Bagak people moved down from the mountain, they stopped building the traditional single longhouse and, instead, built either single family dwellings or smaller longhouses consisting of only three to five apartments. When children moved from their parents' longhouse, they required land and some yard space for their own new home. If none was available in their parents' yard, they could ask to occupy land (numpang) in the residential area owned by someone else. Then they would build either a temporary shelter of bamboo and bark with a thatched roof, or a more permanent home with a wooden frame and a shingle or corrugated roof. When their own land became available, they would shift, taking with them the durable parts of the structure.

One-fifth of the people surveyed in Bagak occupied someone else's residential land. None of them paid for this right, indicating that living space is an important element of the local ethics of access. The landowners say that everyone should have a place to live within the village, this includes rights to land for residences.

People who numpang are not supposed to plant trees in the yard - this is regarded as an inappropriate land claim. The landowner would feel uncomfortable cutting down the tree to use the land for something else. Occasionally this does happen. The story box illustrates how the situation of competing claims can be amicably resolved.

Customary fines

"Staking one's claim is like lighting a lamp. If the owner of a durian tree has built a shelter and lit a lamp to show it has been occupied, you must ask permission to take a durian. If permission is not asked, the taker must pay a fine. If no lamp has been lit inside the shelter and a passer-by takes a newly fallen durian, no fine is due."

Staking a Claim

One villager has a durian tree on his land that someone else had planted in 1956 while he occupied a temporary dwelling. The tree-planter had occupied the land for four years, then moved. The tree had not yielded fruit until 1989, because, as the landowner said, it was crowded by other trees.

The landowner was ambivalent about either cutting the tree down or weeding his own trees from around the durian. As a result, for 34 years, the tree did not get enough light to stimulate its growth and production. But, in the 1989 durian season, the tree produced some 20 to 30 fruits a night for a month.

This year, the tree-planter came back to the village during the flowering season, saw that the durian was going to fruit and asked for "cigarette money". The landowner gave him Rp. 2 000. The landowner said that the tree planter really had no rights to the tree because it was planted in his yard while the tree-planter was his guest. But, to maintain good relations, to acknowledge the other man's labour investment, and despite the "rule" precluding tree planting on another's residential land, he paid the cigarette money.

Community sanctions still protect individual and household claims on both land and trees. Cutting someone's planted and managed trees, wherever they are located, has always been grounds for levying a customary fine (bayar hukum). But there has been a major change in the ethic of access to some fruits, durian in particular, since they have attained great commercial value. Consumer rights are still recognised; that is, anyone wishing to taste a particularly flavourful or famous fruit is to be given the opportunity. Similarly, if a person is walking through forest gardens and a durian happens to drop, that person has the good fortune and the right to consume the durian or take it home for his household's consumption, whether he has descent group rights to the fruit or not. However, the rights to dispose of durian commercially are now strictly regulated. Harvesting and selling another person's durian is considered stealing, and the proper fines must be paid.

Conflicts over the rights to trees and land sometimes result from the privatization of a descent group's common property rights. These disputes can be subjected to arbitration by the village's head of customary law, but most families are loath to let the dispute reach such public scrutiny - it is considered very shameful.

Today, monetary values have been given to the customary fines imposed in the past. A document in the possession of Bagak's current head of customary law shows that fines were standardized throughout the Sambas District in 1986. The regional government sponsored a meeting of all customary law leaders to determine the monetary values of traditional fines. The results are in Table 6.


CURRENT VALUE (In Rupiah; US$1.00=Rp.1 650)
TYPE OF TREE Not yet Productive Productive
Tengkawang 2 000 15 000
Durian 2 000 15 000
Langsat 1 500 5 000
Rambutan 1 500 5 000
Clove 1 500 5 000
Mempelum (mango) 500 5 000
Rubber 500 5 000
Rambai 1 500 2 500
Langgir 1 500 2 500
Mentawa 1 500 2 500
Nyato 1 500 2 500
Coffee 500 2 500
Pantigan 500 1 500
Kamayo 500 1 500
Kelampi 500 1 500
Kelapa (coconut) 500 1 500
Keminting 500 1 500
Angkala 500 1 500
Keranji 500 1 000
Pinang 250 1 000
Nangka 500 750
Cempedak 300 600
Enau (Arenga) 250 500
Banana 250 500
Sagu 200 500

The consequences of change

The village land and forest use history by the Salako Dayaks of Bagak shows how political and economic factors have spurred changes in resource management practices and rights.

Agricultural land has been limited over time and expansion today is almost impossible.

While the ancestors of Bagak Sahwa's current residents planted fruit trees near their longhouses so that ripe fruit was abundantly available for their descendents' enjoyment, contemporary villagers plant durian and other fruit trees in a garden or cluster and think of both the garden and the land it is planted on as specific inheritance for their children. In this way the village's communal land is slowly becoming privately owned.

Village elders and the head of customary law say that in the past people never used the term "kabon duriotn" - durian garden - because the concept of a garden where someone owned all the trees and plants did not exist. Prior to this the longhouse garden, "timawokng", was full of individual people's trees. They called it "kabon ramai" - the busy or noisy garden.

Though it is too early to tell, it seems probable that private rights are becoming increasingly necessary in the expanding capitalistic society in which Bagak plays a very active role.

The trend towards the privatization of land and trees, without the rotation rights characteristic among tree-holding descent groups, increases the likelihood that some people will lose possession of trees and land, as they are forced to sell their rights to meet expenses, such as for sudden illness or hospitalization.

In the past, larger groups - either the village or longhouse as a whole, or extended families within the village - systematically regulated various households' access to productive resources. The aim was to protect all, not only from the vagaries of nature, but also from the vagaries of external political-economic influences. As the system changes to one in which the household has more private rights over productive resources, the household must protect itself from the natural and political vagaries of its environment. The ultimate effect may be that some households are fated to fall victims to random bad luck, illness, accidents, etc. Within the new system they are less capable of protecting themselves. Household vulnerability to food insecurity thus increases, as does the household's responsibility for overcoming its vulnerability. At the village level, the result is increasing levels of vulnerability as resource distribution becomes less and less a community responsibility.

Ironically, while village resources are being claimed by individual households, the resources within the nature reserve are becoming more common. Although the villagers are largely excluded from making new swiddens within the reserve boundaries, foresters have not been able to prevent them planting trees or collecting other forest products just inside the reserve's boundaries. This de facto arrangement, though unplanned, benefits both the State and the poorer villagers by providing the latter with limited forest access without actually allowing swidden conversion.


Chapter 5: Case Study Two: Sungai Bongkang

The hamlet of Sungai Bongkang

Sungai Bongkang lies approximately 25 km from the Indonesian border with Sarawak (East Malaysia) in old growth Dipterocarpaceae forest. Its territory encompasses approximately 1 500 ha, some of which is classified as National Production Forest. The residential section of the village is set along an ox-bow of the winding Sungai Bongkang River in the foothills of the mountains south of the border with Sarawak. The current village territory is demarked by mountains on all sides: Bentuang, the highest in the region, and its foothills lie to the east, north and northwest of the village; Bijuk lies to the northeast; Serantai and Meranas are in the southwest. The village territory is also transected by numerous rivers, which until recently provided the primary means of transport into and out of the area.

The nearest town is Beduai. It is the administrative seat of one of the least populated of several subdistrict seats in the Sanggau district. In 1988, the Beduai Subdistrict population was 9 133, with an average population density of 21 per sq km. Among the Galik Dayaks of Beduai, Sungai Bongkang villagers remain the most isolated; they live farthest upriver and the most distant from government or market services. Until 1987, the village was accessible only by river during the wet season - access on foot was possible only during the few dry months.

Sungai Bongkang was a village until 1991, at which time it was reclassified as a "dusun", or hamlet, in a move by the Indonesian Government to administratively consolidate the population. The dusun is divided into four sections, three of which are located in a central residential cluster of houses near the river, while the other is located an hour's walk through the village lands - managed forest and swidden fallows.

In 1991, Sungai Bongkang consisted of 114 households with a population of 475. The main residential section of the hamlet lies along a four-way intersection of two dirt roads. Along one arm of the intersection is an 11-apartment longhouse, all that is left of a much larger longhouse which once contained 31 apartments.

The hamlet infrastructure

The dusun is bordered by the Sungai Bongkang River, a cemetary and the village swidden fallows. Within the hamlet there is only one small shop, which sells the most basic supplies: spices, salt, canned fish (which few local people can afford), soap, cooking oil, tobacco, cigarettes and kerosene. The store is frequently closed due to lack of supplies or buyers.

Since the advent of logging within the villagers' territory, some access roads have reduced the journey time to Beduai. Villagers can now walk two or three hours to the road and hitch a ride into town on one of the logging vehicles. A small shop and occasional traders are located near the timber camp and, because the prices are better than in the local store, some village men buy rice, dried fish, spices, tobacco and other supplies there and carry the goods back to the village.

In 1964, Catholic missionaries arrived in the village and built a church and a school. They brought in teachers to teach all elementary grades and remained until asked to leave when the government school was built in 1976. Today, Sungai Bongkang's only elementary school has one teacher. As a result, children in each grade receive one or two hours of instruction a day. Only one person in the village has finished secondary school; to achieve this, he had to live 130 km away from his family for 12 years from the age of nine in the provincial town of Sanggau. A few other families have sent their children to Beduai for middle school. Many, but not all, of the men speak Indonesian; most of the women and children do not.

Evolution of the community


The Galik people of Beduai claim their place of origin is a river called Sungai Galik, located at Songkeng near the Sekayam River. The ancestors of the Beduai Galik split and relocated into settlements in Pemodis, Tokam, Kubing Keladan and Ungan. From these settlements, some people moved to Sungai Dangin; from there to Semayong or Marot, on to Sembawang and finally to Sungai Cincun. Eventually, Sungai Cincun was abandoned because of the lack of area to extend the longhouse for new families and because the slow rate of population growth caused people to think that the location might be unlucky (kade rasi). The longhouse was taken apart and the residents moved to Sungai Bongkang and Tunggu in 1958 - during the period of Sukarno rule.

Political and administrative history

According to oral traditions, until the end of the Malay sultan's rule, which coincided with the end of Dutch rule in 1942, an official of the Malay court at Sanggau worked with the Dutch to control the area. However, despite Dutch and Malay political-administrative claims, the villagers retained rights to the forest and the land because their ancestors had cleared the forest and settled the village. According to elder villagers, Malays collected some taxes on the resin traded out of the village, but otherwise had little control over the everyday lives of the local people.

The Japanese occupation

During World War II, the presence of the Japanese in a village two hours' downriver from Cincun during their occupation (1942-45) significantly disrupted the villagers' routines. No one collected forest products because there was no market. People ran away to the forest for a short period when they heard that the Japanese had arrived; they bought rice and tubers to eat while they lived there and killed their pigs and chickens so the Japanese would not hear them and find them in the forest. Cultivating swiddens was difficult and at harvest time people feared their rice would be taken away. Their constrained movement and lack of markets meant they had to do without salt, tobacco and other imported goods.

The Confrontation with Malaysia

Another episode of political upheaval hampered swiddening activities - the Confrontation with Malaysia (locally called "frontasi") - which affected West Kalimantan from 1960 to 1968. Sungai Bongkang's location near the Province's border with Malaysia intensified the villagers' direct involvement in the government's activities. Many able-bodied village men were employed by the army as porters and forest guides, and hence were too busy to clear swiddens. Although no fighting actually took place in the village, shots could be heard from the forest and soldiers entered every longhouse apartment looking for guerrila fighters. During this time there was a shortage of food and many local people ate sago.

Food emergencies have also occurred due to natural causes. In 1975, the rice harvest was so poor that nearly everyone in the village had to collect forest foods, living primarily on sago and wild tubers. In the same year they made ironwood shingles to sell for cash to buy food. People also sold their pigs, generally to purchase subsistence items such as nails, oil and lamps.

Accelerated change

Although the Galik people's access to their territory has been influenced by outside political factors, it was not until 1983 or even, it could be argued, as late as 1987 that the government formally attempted to regulate and restrict Sungai Bongkang villager's access and claims to old growth forest. These recent changes have been extremely sudden, bringing with them sudden effects: roads and chainsaws, a loss of legal controls on timber and old growth forest and an increase in capitalistic relations of production within the village.


In 1983, the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry leased the timber rights in the old growth forest to a company called PT. Batasan.

This company began operations in Beduai in 1984 and by 1987 its logging operations had penetrated Sungai Bongkang's territory. Its primary logging road was the first major thoroughfare near Sungai Bongkang. The road not only provided the timber company with access to the interior for its logging, but it also became the most important artery along which ironwood would be cut and carried out.

The timber company's actual presence in the village territory, and its activities, have been received in different ways by the villagers. The road, in particular, has had good and bad effects.

Many villagers were distressed by the erosion and loss of forest caused by the road's construction, though the company has practised selective logging and replanted with a mixture of native and fast-growing species. But, in the main, the villagers welcomed what they perceived to be an opening up of their territory, and they expected easier access to the Subdistrict's seat of government, markets and health care. In fact, the villagers were so keen to have the potential benefits of road access, that they repeatedly requested the timber company to build a feeder road from the main logging road directly into their settlement area. The villagers talked with the timber company's logging foreman, who lived at the timber camp located along the road. The foreman told the villagers that the company managers had agreed to build a feeder road, but unfortunately that promise was not kept. Finally, the villagers got tired of waiting and organised to demand the road's construction.

The changes brought by the road, the cutting of timber in the territory and the new capacity to sell and ship ironwood as soon as it was cut, caused other changes in the villagers' lifestyle. The government now has a greater political-economic interest in the territory, and the traditional rights of access have been challenged and modified.

Confrontation with the Timber Company

The villagers sent out their symbol of war: the "mangkok merah" (red bowl) - a Chinese porcelain bowl with red paint at the bottom - and a group of men went around the village demanding that everyone go to the timber camp to demonstrate. In recounting the story, one man said all the village men went to the timber camp, but later discussion revealed that some prominent villagers did not go - about five men. These men were later called in by the sub-district government and asked to help negotiate the settlement of the dispute.

"Once the bowl is circulated, it may not stop - it must continue from village to village. The meaning of the red in the bowl is that we are ready to drink blood. How many times did we ask for a road and the timber company said "ya, ya"? It had already been three or four times, and we remembered that they had ruined some of our trees, some of our gardens, caused the mountains to erode and so on. They never paid any retribution. So early in the morning we all went there together. Before we went, we used a mantra, we threw yellow rice. That old man (pointing) said the mantra, he knew the words to say. We only brought our pedang: the longest knives we have, made just for killing people. We wore red handkerchiefs around our heads and birds' feathers in the kerchiefs. We burned the house of the mandor (foreman), who was the one who always told us "ya" about the road. We turned over one of the company's vehicles, setting it on fire. Dayak people don't need automatic weapons to go to war, we can use sharpened bamboo. In the end the company foreman slaughtered a pig, a dog and a chicken for the customary ceremony to acknowledge they were wrong. This is the Dayak way. The next day, they built the road."

The people of Sungai Bongkang won a short-term victory, because the company built the feeder road, but the victory became more of a symbol than an achievement. Within a year of its placement, the log bridge over the last river leading to the settlement fell into the water where the bank had eroded. The loss of the bridge made it impossible for motorized vehicles to pass. Moreover the bridges were not made of ironwood; the lower quality wood will not last more than 10 years.

Today the location of ironwood is so far away and the weight of the trees so great that even a cooperative effort from all the local villagers cannot manage to bring the trees to the site. The villagers have petitioned the timber company to use its logging machinery and to haul two or three whole ironwood trees for a new access bridge. However, the communication between the villagers and the timber company is taking the same path as it did before the demonstration; that is, the villagers are talking to a company field supervisor who conveys their wishes to his superiors. Again, the logging supervisor has told the villagers "ya", but has done nothing. The feeder road is now (Nov. 1990) overgrown and hardly used because the bridge has not been fixed. Moreover, the traders have no compelling reason to return to the village via that road; all the ironwood from that area has been taken out.

Posting a soldier

A soldier was posted to Sungai Bongkang in 1987. Soon after his arrival the soldier told the villagers that the government preferred people to live in single family dwellings and recommended strongly that they change their living structures. Households began breaking off from the longhouse, and the construction of single family dwellings created a local housing boom - though it takes two years or more for a villager to complete building a house. Also at the suggestion of the soldier, people started using ironwood to fence their yards.


In 1991, the village was made effectively more remote by a government policy which reclassified the village to dusun, or hamlet status. This has resulted in two major changes. First, the village loses the "village development subsidy" of at least Rp. 1 200 000 a year from the government. In the past these subsidies were used for village needs: to buy a rice huller, to buy iron for blacksmithing and to feed community members doing village work (kerja bakti). The subsidy will now go to the dusun's capital, the village of Semayong.

One consequence of the reclassification is that sub district officials are less likely to visit them or to learn about village problems first hand. Many villagers are disheartened and say they will be more isolated than they have ever been. As one woman said:

"There is no activity here by the sub-district, only the soldier who was once posted here. We only get lectures about health and nutrition, but are given no opportunity or assistance to do anything about it. Two people have TVs, but the mountains prevent us from getting a picture; sometimes there is even no sound. Some villagers have money now, because of the ironwood boom, but there are still no stores and no boats coming in during the dry season."

Land use and management

The Galik Dayak's practice of swiddening

The Galik Dayaks of Sungai Bongkang are swidden cultivators and extremely dependent on the forest for their survival.

Swidden agroforestry, with forest gardens of predominantly fruit and rubber trees, is the only form of agriculture practised; no land in this dusun's territory is suited to paddy (wet-rice) cultivation. The swidden cultivation practised in Sungai Bongkang combines dry-land field crop production with the production of tree crops and old growth forest management (see Table 7).

The village is surrounded by swidden fallows and mixed tree gardens, but nearby are two old growth "forest islands" (rurukn) which have never been swiddened because numerous boulders dot the area above and below ground, hampering efficient farming. The local people depend on these "islands" and other mature forest for products such as rattan, ironwood and other construction timbers, and wild game for food.

There are several useful terms which help to explain the dimensions of the swidden agroforestry as practised by the Galik Dayaks of Sungai Bongkang. These are listed in Table 8.

The managed forest

Villagers in Sungai Bongkang manage three broad categories of forest. Each of these three types of managed forest has different origins and different types of dominant species.

umo tua old growth forest.
timawok'n mixed fruit gardens planted in old longhouse sites or temporary sites of residence and old swidden fallows. Nearly all timawok'n in Bongkang are located along rivers.
rurukn forest islands surrounded by swidden gardens; potential reserve areas, partly by topographical accident i.e. the presence of boulders.
umo a swidden, the first or second year after clearing old growth or a swidden fallow. The swidden is planted with sawi (a kind of cabbage), corn, kunyit (a root spice used in various rituals), rice and cassava.
jami generic term for swidden fallow (the term describes the grassy or bushy undergrowth).
jami penuah the swidden in the year after it was planted with rice; during penuah it is planted with ubi and maybe some groundnuts or corn.
jami serai swidden fallows which have been cultivated only one or two times in 5 - 25 year cycles. Regrowth is vigorous and healthy with many woody species.
jami risah third or fourth time the same swidden fallow has been cultivated after fallow cycle. Regrowth is less woody than serai with more grass and some bushy shrubs.
kabon a general term meaning garden. Kabon karet means rubber garden; kabon kacang means peanut garden.

Timawok'n are forest fruit tree gardens planted on former residential sites. Usaha, or enterprise plots, are old swidden fallows planted with economic trees which have no local use. Finally, there are forest reserves in old growth forest which have never been cleared and are used primarily as a source of construction materials, tools and potential swiddens. The categories are not fixed, for example, a forest reserve cleared for timber production may be converted to swidden.

In all these managed forests, trees are both planted and found, protected and encouraged and otherwise explicitly managed. Access rights - and the management practices which serve as indicators to these rights - are specific to each product or type of product and vary both within and between land use types.

Contrary to some stereotyped beliefs, Bornean swiddeners with access to old growth forest do not always clear the old growth in preference to long-rotation fallow farming (see Dove, 1985; Jessup, 1989; Colfer, 1987). Moreover rice yields from old swidden fallows (up to 20 years old) are not necessarily lower than those from old growth forest. For example, one Sungai Bonkang family said that in 1988 it swiddened three to four ha of land which they had kept in fallow. They harvested some 120 large baskets of rice, approximately 1 600 kg (14 kg per basket), and in 1990 they still had some of that rice in their storehouse. In fact, this family never makes swiddens in big forest and has never had a bad season, always producing enough rice to make it through the next year - sometimes with rice left over. The family does not make swiddens in old growth forest because it is difficult to clear and most of its adult workers are women or old men. It is not willing to spend valuable cash to pay for clearing old growth. The younger, fallowed sites require more time spent in weeding, but that is a trade-off the family is willing to make.

Specific access rights

The traditional customs of access are still practised in Sungai Bongkang. These are very similar to the common property rights, descent group property rights and private rights detailed in Chapter 3 in the Bagak study. Private ownership is established through labour, finder's claims and subsequent management. Descent group rights are established through inheritance and common property resources are established in a similar fashion to those described in the Bagak village. There are, however, some specific differences.

Access to village common property resources (CPRs) is limited to residents and descendents from village residents. The largest common property resource is the village territory itself. Within the territory firewood and foods such as mushrooms, greens, ferns and bamboo shoots are common property. Other "wild" commonly owned species include pandanus and the arenga palm (Arenga pinnata). Only resident villagers have hunting rights within the village territory; outsiders must ask permission.

Because hunting or fishing may be done in absentia (by setting traps in the river or forest), it is important to identify the moment when these village resources become private property. In the case of animals which are shot by hunters working alone, they are immediately claimed by the shooter. When villagers hunt together, whoever shot the animal first has "trophy" rights - the coveted jaw - and the second person to shoot the animal is given the head, another trophy of the event. The meat is divided evenly among the hunters in the group. When a trap is set, the person who dug the hole has the "trophy" rights.

Wild meat can be sold for cash in the village or at Beduai for about twice the village price. Boar meat, for example sells for Rp. 2 500/kg in Sungai Bongkang and Rp. 3 500-4 000/kg in Beduai.

Fish are village common property until they are trapped. Once a trap has been set in the river, no one but the trapper may take fish out of the trap; nor may anyone build a competing trap which obstructs the path of fish towards the first trap. Once in the trap, the fish becomes private property.

In Sungai Bongkang, common rights to a fruit tree are usually recognised for the direct descendents of the great-grandparent who planted the tree. Different descent groups develop their own systems for rotating access to the trees they own in common. In some families a whole cluster of cash crop trees, such as rubber, may be held in common and use rights rotated. When those rubber trees no longer produce rubber the second factor, labour investment, enters into the rights equation. For example, whoever clears the old rubber garden for a swidden will be given at least temporary rights to that land.

In the distribution of common property resources, an individual's access to privately held resources is taken into account.

Others who seek access to the villagers' commonly owned forest products have to pay a tax to the village, generally 20 percent of the harvested product. Thus a payment might consist of two rattan bundles per 10 collected or two ironwood posts per 10 cut. For difficult-to-renew or increasingly scarce resources, the villagers might informally decide to restrict outsiders' access. The harvest and sale of rattan is controlled in this manner.

Trading and selling forest products

The villagers access to markets has historically been restricted by their isolation with trade possible only when the rivers were high enough to allow boat access, or if the surplus goods could be easily carried - and then only in the dry season. The most profitable goods have been primary forest and agroforestry products, and this trade particularly depends upon access to old growth forest and ancestral gardens. If the logging road is extended and the bridge rebuilt and maintained, the villagers of Sungai Bongkang can look forward to greater opportunities to trade, but less exclusive access to the forest.


Villagers have traditionally sold and traded forest and agroforestry products for cash and other goods. Damar has been a particularly useful forest product. If the rice harvest was plentiful, there was little need to collect damar more than a couple of times each month. If the harvest was poor, the villagers could collect damar all year and transport it downriver to exchange it for rice, coffee, sugar, salt and tobacco. If the river was low or there was no sampan, they stored their damar. When boats did come to take out the resin, the amount transported was limited to about one metric ton in a 6.5 depak (arm lengths) sampan. It was then sold to traders in Beduai and eventually purchased by the Dutch who exported it. In the village, a catty (0.7 kg) of damar sold for Rp. 0.25 to 0.50. These terms of trade were rather unfavourable: one large gunny sack of damar being exchanged for one large gunny sack of rice.

Illipe nut trees

Another commercial forest product which has been historically important for the Galik people is illipe nut. It was planted extensively by early Galik settlers along the rivers running through the village territory, and a cluster of 200 trees was planted in what is now deep forest near the territorial border with the Landak. Many very old illipe nut trees can be found in riverside swiddens, protected by generations descended from the planter.

The nuts are collected and sold, or they can be pressed and processed for their oil. Domestic and wild pigs like the nuts, so in masting years the wild boar hunting is quite good. The trees are also valued by outsiders for their handsome wood.

In 1990, the Governor of West Kalimantan announced that "wild" illipe nut trees could be harvested by timber companies. Most of the valued illipe nut trees in the forests around Sungai Bongkang were planted and protected as common property - they are not "wild" trees. However, once an illipe nut tree reaches the log pond, it is impossible to tell if it was wild or planted. Following the government announcement, many entrepreneurs openly flocked into the villages and convinced individuals to sell their families illipe nut trees for Rp. 15 000 to Rp. 30 000 per tree. Some were sold, resulting in disputes and discord. Today people feel embarrassed to talk about their families' loss of illipe nut because the trees were family heirlooms (pusaka). Their sale is seen by some people as an indicator of family strife which is shameful to discuss. In contrast, depleting the village's ironwood stocks is not considered shameful because ironwood is neither planted nor does it have the same type of cultural meaning. As one person explained:

"Our illipe nut and durian trees were planted by our ancestors in the expectation that all their children and grandchildren would eat their fruits or otherwise benefit from their yields. Moreover, they are a living proof of a family's ties, the ties within a single line of inheritance. If the tree is sold, we eat from it only once. If we only take its fruits, we can eat for many years, and all our kin can enjoy them. This selling of illipe nut trees only ruins family relations. The common ownership of the trees is a symbol of kinship. Without them, family members have no (material) basis for recognising their own kin."

Government permission to cut illipe was revoked on 6 July 1990. Now, if a timber company is caught cutting an heirloom illipe nut tree, its concession can be withdrawn. The burden of proof, however, falls on the accuser.


A tree added more recently to the agroforestry systems of Sungai Bongkang villagers is the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis). The villagers' ancestors began planting rubber before World War II, but the lack of a road and poor prices prevented its sale for regular income. However, the Malaysian markets, until the late 1970s, offered much better prices than those available on the Indonesian side of the border, and the villagers would occasionally sell rubber in Malaysia. In 1958, 1964, 1974 and 1976 through to 1982, villagers tapped rubber trees in local gardens and took the partially processed sheets of rubber over the mountains to Malaysia, some carrying 50 kg or more. Those who had no rubber carried corn, pepper, rattan carpets and rare forest products like bear gall bladders. The village head wrote them all letters explaining that they lived in Indonesia and were travelling to Malaysia to sell their goods. They brought back salt, iron pots, school notebooks, cloth, clothes and presents for the children.


Ironwood wood stocks have traditionally been used gradually and, if sold by villagers to meet emergency needs, it was in the form of roof shingles. But demand for the timber has been consistently growing. Ironwood buyers from Balai Karangan, Kembayan and Sitarung Kampung began seeking ironwood in Sungai Bongkang's territory in the early 1980s. At that time, no roads were available and villagers transported the ironwood out on rafts. The heavy logs were inclined to sink and had to be supported with many pieces of floating wood or bamboo; they could be rafted only during periods of heavy rain. More recently, the logging roads built after timber concessions were allocated, accelerated the harvest, creating unprecedented local demand.

Claimed Trees Need to be Guarded

Older men and those who were weak because of some permanent or semipermanent disability (e.g. one man had an ulcer, another had tuberculosis) feel that the able bodied-men are working ironwood for themselves without paying attention to who owns the trees. People rushed out and claimed as many trees as they could rather than claiming a few at a time as they needed them. Even if the older or weaker people had been able to claim trees by painting their names on them, if they could not guard the trees, they disappeared. One man said that he had claimed trees in two sites, painting his name on seven trees in one site and 11 trees in the other. When he returned to cut them down, they already had been chainsawn by someone else. Other men had similar stories. Though they had friends and relatives working in the forest, they are working for themselves and can't watch out for someone else's trees in another section of the forest. Some say: "How can we compete with chainsaws when we only use an axe (beliung)?"

This increased demand for ironwood certainly strained some of the existing village ethics in relation to access and just distribution of the commonly owned resource. In essence it could be said that the chainsaws facilitate stealing. Today, outsiders buy the ironwood by purchasing the rights to a location or "lokasi" from the village people. The purchase of a lokasi entitles the buyer only to the ironwood trees within that territory - in much the same way as the timber concessions are allocated. They are not permitted to make swiddens. For example, one person had claimed a lokasi containing 20 large trees which he sold for Rp. 600 000 to an ironwood trader from another district. Another man sold a lokasi with a similar number of trees for Rp. 500 000.

A few people say that they sold their lokasi because they did not own chainsaws. Others sold them because the sale obviates the need to guard the trees.


In Sungai Bongkang, wild slender rattans are used for every kind of basket employed in the production and storage of rice - rattan is not planted. The same rattan is also made into mats for drying rice in the sun and for use at home or in formal or ritual gatherings. Rattan mats and baskets have also been an important source of cash income and are used to trade for goods which are not locally produced. Moreover, though substitution with bamboo was possible, it was not preferred. Baskets of bamboo are considered inferior and making them is a sign of hardship and scarcity. In 1990/91, many women would not sell their baskets, not even the used ones, because the rattan stocks which were accessible on a day trip (three hours walk from the village) had been dwindling. Though some of them stayed overnight in temporary forest shelters to gather rattan near the logging operations, the long walk was not something that could be done on a daily or even weekly basis. Women complained that they would not have enough baskets for their own village's needs, and that outsiders undervalued their baskets in trade, sometimes trading for used clothing. As one woman said:

"We are the ones who lose out. We give them something new and they give us their leftovers. But because we are far from the city, we are forced to accept (those terms)."

In the case of rattan, management does not include cultivation. Rather it consists of limiting access to Sungai Bongkang people only and limiting the sale of goods made from rattan.

The impact of chainsaws

Chainsaws have not only accelerated the amount of timber cut in the old growth forests, they have also made it possible for local people to use different types of wood for house construction. Unfortunately, the quality of the new timber being used in house construction is much lower than ironwood. In practical terms, this means that within a decade or two, walls and other parts of houses will need to be replaced. Ironwood is still used for foundations and houseframes, as well as for roof shingles, but there will soon be no mature ironwood trees in the forest for new home builders to use.

Ironwood collection is classified as a small-scale, forest-based enterprise. Yet, on 30 August 1990, a villager reported there were at least 100 people working at the current Sungai Bongkang forest ironwood sites. Some 40 chainsaws were in use. Not all the woodcutters were local villagers. All, however, claimed to have purchased or claimed rights to cut down the ironwood trees from local villagers. Some were making 20 to 40 posts a day of the usual approximate one metre length.

There were also many buyers, most of whom owned general stores or construction businesses. The regulation restricted potential buyers from Pontianak yet supported local traders. It was enforced by placing guards where the logging roads joined the public road. It also ensured the payment of "unofficial" user fees (approximately Rp. 400 000 a month per vehicle) to the fee collectors in Sanggau. Payment of this fee permits the businessmen to make as many trips as they want between 6 pm and 6 am when the logging vehicles are not using the roads. One buyer transported approximately 100 posts a truckload and made some 10 trips a night.

The chainsaw owner and his assistant generally pay the tree owners the 20 percent tax in posts. Usually they also contract with a buyer (tokay) from outside who purchases the wood and provides the cutters with the gasoline-oil mix they need to cut the tree. Wholesale wood buyers (tokays) also "assist" (for a fee) if a chainsaw breaks down or parts need replacement. Some tokays provide food and tobacco for workers in the forest on credit. The immediate advantages to the woodcutter from this kind of arrangement are twofold: the prices on food and tobacco are much lower than the prices in the village; secondly, the goods are delivered to the forest shelters or to the forest edge road, so the workers do not have to carry supplies from home. Some tokays provide even more services. One villager works with a Malay who lives in Sosok, where the villager's daughter is in school. She lives at the tokay's house, and the tokay pays her school fees as she needs them. Her father, who owns a chainsaw, pays the tokay back with ironwood.

Table 9 details what one team of chainsaw operators accomplished in 10 days in the forest. They worked for a rate of Rp. 700 per post and were fed three meals a day in the forest. They took turns handling the chainsaw, so they split the wage evenly. The posts listed below came from three trees they had cut earlier, and some wood still remained to be cut at the time these calculations were made.

Friday 0 Team left village for forest
Saturday 7 Team felled a tree and cut it into four sections
Sunday 30
Monday 14
Tuesday 0 Team did not work; one member had a fever
Wednesday 0 Team did not work; one member had a fever and went home
Thursday 0 Team returned to forest
Friday 20
Saturday 29
Sunday 15
Monday 19
Tuesday 28
Total 162 posts
Daily Production, average over 12 days: 13.5 posts
Daily Production, average per day worked: 20 posts
Total individual income: Rp.56 470 plus 10 days food.

Dispute settlement

The head of customary law says there are disputes every season. Trees belonging to someone else may be damaged or fish and fruit misappropriated.

In Sungai Bongkang these disputes may be settled in one of two ways; both involve a "water test". In one, both contestants submerge in water and whoever comes up first is the loser.

"It never happens that the true owner of the tree comes up first," says the head of customary law. "When the loser comes up, everyone watching claps, laughs at him, so he feels ashamed (malu)."

In the other test, two strings of equal length are floated in a dish of water. Whichever sinks first belongs to the loser. Losers must pay the customary fine and suffer the shame of public exposure.

Fines increase according to the level at which the dispute is finally settled. For example, if a dispute over the rights to, or distribution of, a fruit harvest can be settled between two parties, the fine paid by the wrongful party is one porcelain bowl. If the dispute goes to the village's head of customary law for arbitration, the fine increases to two large porcelain jars and a ritual feast. If it is still unresolved, the dispute goes on to the village head, and the fine increases to three or four large jars, as determined by the village head, plus a feast. Moreover, if either party in the dispute behaves in a rude manner, saying unkind or threatening things (bilang keras, mau mengantam) which disrupt the village peace, additional fines are levied (five porcelain bowls and a chicken, rice and rice wine). If a person of responsibility, such as the head of customary law or the village head, breaks a rule, he must pay double the lay-person's fine.

The ritual feast has special significance within this process, and no substitutions (no cash, no land) are allowed for the pigs and chickens which must be offered. If the offender is late in providing the feast, he or she will have to pay a "kemponan" fee of twice the required fine (goods and food). Kemponan is the state you are in when you deny food that is offered to you, or when you promise food and do not provide it. Kemponan is an extremely vulnerable state, one is in mortal danger. According to local belief, being kemponan is the major, if not sole cause of personal disasters in the forest or fallows. Being bitten by a deadly snake or hit by falling trees is always attributed to being in a state of kemponan. If the offender is late in providing the promised feast, he or she also places numerous people in this dangerous state. As a result, anyone participating in the hearing, including the plaintiffs, the head of customary law and the village head, has a right to claim a fee (doyak bena) as they are in greatest danger of kemponan.


Chapter 6: Discussion

Transformation of traditional practices

In the early part of this century, the two hamlets studied, Sungai Bongkang and Bagak, shared similar patterns of resource management and resource tenure. Today, each village still practices some swiddening, plants trees for commercial and subsistence uses and has a combination of similar types of common property and individual rights to land and resources. Each also maintains a certain ethic of access to its land and forest resources, which help to respect every village member's right to "subsist". However, their different geographic positions in relation to market, roads and services have created numerous differences in the current patterns of land use and management, and these differences, in turn, have led to the tranformation of many traditional practices.

Forest dependence

One major difference between Sungai Bongkang and Bagak is the nature and extent of their direct forest dependence. While Bagak villagers still clearly depend on trees, their landscape differs because it is dominated by intensively managed tree gardens. The Sungai Bongkang villagers cultivate a similar tree species mix - durian, other fruits and rubber - but their landscape is not dominated by intensively managed forest gardens, rather it is a mix of swidden fields and fallows, mixed tree gardens and old growth forest. Sungai Bongkang villagers remain directly dependent on mature forest and depend on forest swiddens for most of the food they consume. Another noticeable difference is that Sungai Bongkang has no access to irrigable land to grow wet rice.

The people of Sungai Bongkang have not adopted the same agroforestry practices as those which are demonstrated by the Bagak Dayaks for several good reasons. First, they cannot afford the time or space to convert many of their swidden fallows into fruit or rubber production - they need their swiddens for rice production. Second, their access to markets is extremely limited so fruit is a subsistence, not a commercial, crop. Third, a useful supplementary income can be obtained from the wild forest products that do not perish easily.

The speed of change


The social and economic changes confronting the villagers of Bagak appear to have taken place more gradually than those in Sungai Bongkang. Since losing formal access to their traditional lands when the Dutch declared them a nature reserve for watershed protection, the Bagak Dayaks have reasserted their traditional right of access to the gardens and trees established by their ancestors, albeit in an informal, de facto way. A buffer zone now lies between the village's highly managed forest gardens and the core of the nature reserve, and villagers plant this and their old swidden gardens with productive trees and harvest some forest products in response to their needs.

Foresters have decided to leave the durian and rubber trees planted within the reserve's boundaries and allow low-impact harvesting, rather than risk the wrath of villagers by replacing them with forest species.

The Bagak Dayaks have also benefited from the political expulsion of the Chinese paddy rice cultivators. In effect, the political tragedy that changed the social composition of the village, eased much of the pressure created by the establishment of other permanent settlements around the village (like the mission and the transmigration area) by further increasing the Dayaks' ability to subsist without access to all of their traditional lands.

The end result of the upheavals and changes experienced by the Bagak Dayaks has been the slow transition from dependence on swidden rice production to dependence on the production of fruit and rubber in mixed agroforestry gardens supplemented by rice from the paddy land acquired after the Chinese had left.

Sungai Bongkang

Sungai Bongkang contrasts markedly with Bagak. It is geographically remote from centres of power and markets; consequently, the villagers remain dependent on forest produce and on the production of rice from their swiddening activities. Yet, the presence of marketable timber in the village's forest has precipitated significant change, opening the village to new social and economic forces in a very sudden manner.

The sale of ironwood has been a major cause of change. Cash is now available to some households, and the money can be used to pay a chainsaw-labour team to cut the big trees for a new swidden. One negative effect of the sale of ironwood and other forest products such as rattan, is that these are diminishing resources are not easily renewed - it takes many years for ironwood to mature, and rattan is becoming scarce in their forest. Without these forest products, the villagers will have little opportunity to earn a cash income.

The importance of rice self-sufficiency

In both villages, general well-being can still be measured in terms of a household's capacity to produce or buy all the rice they consume. In both villages this capacity has been challenged.

In Bagak, dry-land rice production has been replaced by an increasing diversification of the goods produced for consumption and sale, which, together with easy access to markets, the trend to privatize resources and the "windfall" gain of land suited to wet rice cultivation, has offset the diminishment of village territory and "forced" sedentarization. Rice self-sufficiency remains a primary aim for many households. However, it is no longer achieved by the direct production of rice, but by selling latex (year-round), selling fruit from December through February, and for some, collecting and selling other forest products from the reserve. In addition, because of their easy access to markets and outside services, many young adults earn income in off-farm activities, such as in the transport industry or as petty traders. Villagers generally use this income to purchase the rice needed to supplement their own production.

In Sungai Bongkang, producing enough rice for self-sufficiency is increasingly important as the population grows. The villagers have very few non-forest opportunities to earn a cash income. The most common sources of wage labour are local: hauling or sawing ironwood, using one's chainsaw to cut trees for clearing a forest swidden and working in someone else's swidden, but the number of opportunities for the sale of non-timber forest products, and hence, earning cash from outside the village, is diminishing (i.e., the decline in the market for damar, the drop in rubber prices and the depletion of ironwood stocks). Rice self-sufficiency therefore remains an important primary subsistence goal and larger swiddens are needed. The villagers have responded to this challenge, and in 1991, an estimated 90 percent of the villagers made swiddens in the old growth forest using chainsaws.

The trend to privatize resources

The land and forest use histories of both villages show how the economic values of forest produce (which is related to the village's access to markets and the changing demands for trade) have affected both management practices and structures of access to resources, in particular. This has resulted in a trend to privatize the rights to economically important products, particularly fruit trees. Overall, the privatization of land is less widespread in Sungai Bongkang than in Bagak. As a general observation, the recent trend to privatize resources in either village seems to depend on one, or a combination of, the following three factors: the amount and intensity of labour required in their management; the economic value of the resource; and, the socio-cultural value of the resource.

In both villages, those trees and lands with the most labour invested in their production and management are privately or jointly owned by small kin groups, households or individuals. Similarly, in both villages the wild or casually encouraged species (i.e. those whose growth is not obstructed by a farmer but which are not actively protected) tend to be managed more as village common property resources.

The few products in Sungai Bongkang which have been commercialized, such as rubber and ironwood, are privately owned by individuals or, in the case of honey or illipe nut trees, by kin groups. In Bagak, private rights apply commonly to trees with high economic value, such as durian and rubber, and they also apply to species such as the candlenut tree. The candlenut tree changed from being an open access, communal resource with limited local use, to being held privately and protected by the landowners because of its new commercial value.

There are also socio-cultural differences in the value of some tree species. Both candlenut and damar are important commodity trees, but they were found and claimed rather than planted. The illipe nut tree, on the other hand, is an heirloom or pusaka tree, owned in common by the descendents of the tree planter. According to the older villagers, the common ownership of an illipe tree, planted in the forest or fallow, symbolized common kinship. Cutting an illipe tree not only results in a change in the structure of the landscape and local economy but also represents a loss of the geographic record of kinship and shared space. The end result is that the sale of illipe nut trees is seen to be a shameful act. Their socio-cultural value is higher than their economic value.

While both private and common property rights were part of the "traditional" resource management systems in Sungai Bongkang and Bagak, historically land was not thought of as private property. It is, however, considered as such today.

The future of privatization

It is interesting to speculate on the question: will common property rights in trees eventually disappear in Bagak? Certain trends point in this direction, particularly the following:

However, as the population grows and resources become scarcer, it is still possible that some of the privately owned trees will become common property in the next generation or two given the prevalence of the ethics of access which recognizes everyone's right to subsist.

The effects of access to labour and land

When resources have been privatized, they also affect the non-property, or labour aspects of resource management. People who own diverse resources, some of which require high labour investments at the same time as other resources, must either have households large enough to divide the responsibilities, or enough funds to hire wage labourers. The lack or shortage of either household labour or capital for paying wages may severely constrain even a household's access to the resources it owns. As a result, labour investment aspects of jointly-owned resources remain an important component in determining resource rights in both villages.

Potential poverty

The people most vulnerable to food insecurity in Sungai Bongkang are those whose capacity to make swiddens is constrained. Vulnerable groups include the physically weaker villagers, older people, widows and widowers, sick and otherwise disabled people. Their vulnerability is related to the labour demands of swidden cultivation and other forms of subsistence, they are also restricted to using particular kinds of technology for particular tasks. They may be able to weed for long hours, but may have difficulty handling chainsaws, carrying heavy wood or travelling long distances to collect forest products.

In Bagak, the most vulnerable groups are those that do not have access to the extensive rice production paddy fields. Access to this land has created the condition most likely to widen the gap between better-off and poorer villagers in the community. Those who do not have access to the rice paddy fields are more vulnerable to food insecurity because they depend almost absolutely on tree products and non-farm income to purchase food. However, Bagak's location on a road with access to cities and more urban off-farm employment provides its inhabitants with more opportunities than the villagers of Sungai Bongkang have for ensuring food security as their landscape changes.

Some hazards of development

Bagak's access to modern facilities is not all beneficial. Hospital services are very expensive and by choosing to hospitalize an important member of the household's labour pool, the household often contributes to its own financial demise. The result is not only a greater burden on the household, but also a continued incentive for having more children.

Other social dysfunctions have been introduced into Bagak because of the village's extensive interactions with the regional market economy and other social changes. Most disturbing are the incidents of increased gambling and drinking, particularly among young people. Both of these activities were present before the market for durian brought large amounts of cash into the local economy and before young people became more independent of the village society by virtue of having jobs that took them back and forth between village and urban society (e.g. as minivan drivers), but only to a limited extent.

It is not surprising that many young people do not want to make swiddens or take part in the production of annual crops; this is common in many contemporary Indonesian villages where young people want to be "modern". The loss of large amounts of money to gambling and drinking however, rather than the investment of any surplus in potentially productive enterprises for the future, worries many of the more responsible village people.


Chapter 7: Conclusion

Diversification of production a key to food security

In both Bagak and Sungai Bongkang, diversity of production remains a key component in the ability of these two villages to safeguard against the inevitable crop failures and shortages people experience due to climatic and political vagaries. In fact, diversity of opportunities and crops is the key to food security.

In Sungai Bongkang, the villagers remain vulnerable to the vagaries of the government's acquisition of traditionally managed resources, such as ironwood, or to the territorial encroachment by new settlement programmes. Should more of their territory be given over to outsiders for economic exploitation, the Sungai Bongkang villagers' ability to subsist may be jeopardized. Already they have lost the use of ironwood, a timber essential to local construction. Although the villagers of Sungai Bongkang were formally required to work with a logging company to develop a logging and trade plan for their ironwood, this did not happen. There was no formal recognition of ironwood as a village resource by the Indonesian Government; consequently outsiders tend to view these forest products as an open access resource.

Incidents such as the violent confrontation resulting from the logging company's failure to build an access road to the village could be avoided in future by structuring activities and development of the area in consultation with the villagers - recognizing their long-term needs. The satisfactory completion of an access road may well have served to increase the opportunity for the villagers of Sungai Bongkang to diversify their subsistence base and, thereby, increase their long-term food security. Development here is a double-edged sword; opening the forests also makes it easier for outsiders to exploit them.

In Bagak the increasing trend to privatize commonly held resources poses some serious questions. What will the local institutional responses be to scarcity of land and tree access? How will the privatization process affect villagers' future vulnerability to food insecurity? Will the most vulnerable people survive with increased tree and forest dependence or by seeking labour outside the village?

All of these questions are relevant for future research in Bagak and ideally should be addressed in consultation with the villagers to minimize the harmful effects of random development and maximize potentially positive developments.

The future of the forests

Without any protection for village systems of controlling access to their resources, and without government backing of village enforcement mechanisms, the diversity of forest management and forest composition in the Dayak forests of West Kalimantan may be merely a temporary state. Ironwood, for example, will soon be either locally extinct or an occasionally planted tree crop in people's gardens, which can be harvested only infrequently. Replanting the ironwood would seem to be a sensible initiative for future planning.

The illipe nut tree, valued for generations for its seeds and its capacity to attract boar and other desirable game, is now being valued for its timber. Thus another resource in relative abundance in Sungai Bongkang is threatened by the same privatization or over-valuation of the timber and its consequent sale to outsiders.

The two case study villages illustrate how the West Kalimantan landscape has been and is still being transformed by logging, plantation development, increased integration into the world market and by the construction of roads and other infrastructure and institutions associated with economic development.

The formalization of traditional rights (though flawed as a concept because it comes after the government has claimed all the commercial timber resources, designated reserves, which are formally closed to indigenous people, and divided all land into political land use classifications) may in fact be one method of helping to ensure that the biodiversity and biomass of West Kalimantan's diterocarp forests are preserved, or at very least, utilized in a sustainable fashion. An understanding of the indigenous people's traditional forest managment practices, which have survived several hundred years, including the last 60 years of accelerated socio-cultural, political and economic change, will help us in our ability to wisely manage our planet's resources.