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Minutes of Open Session
CIFOR, August 9, 2004

Full English Report [177kb]

Indonesia by Dr. Murniati and Mr. Lukas Rumboko

Forest cover declined sharply from 143.97 million ha in 1991 to 109.57 million ha in 2000 as per the Ministry of Forestry and degraded forest areas have increased. Various rehabilitation programs and projects have been implemented since the Dutch colonial period such as Karang Kitri Movement, Inpres (Presidential Instruction) on reforestation and afforestation, rehabilitation on ex-logging concessions by establishing Industrial Forestry Plantations, and Demonstration unit on Natural Resources Conservation Efforts. However, the rate of rehabilitation has lagged behind the rate of increase in degraded areas.

During the 1950s-1970s, the driving factors for rehabilitation programs were mainly natural disasters as resulted from intensive logging in Java. The impacts of over exploitation from logging in the outer islands also became a problem since the 1980s, and encouraged the government to start the program of Industrial Forestry Plantations. During the reform era started in 1998, widespread forest encroachment and illegal logging pushed the government to shift towards community based forest rehabilitation/ management. Currently rehabilitation programs are driven by concern over forest encroachment, forest fire, and inappropriate land use practices; as well as over and illegal logging.

In the study conducted by CIFOR and FORDA, more than a hundred projects dealing with forest rehabilitation on forestry, mining and catchments areas dating from late 1950s have been identified so far. Target project areas range from 10 to almost 500,000 ha with project durations ranging from 1 to 35 years. Projects have been mostly dependent on state and donor funding, and focused mainly on technical aspects.

Institutional arrangements for effective implementation of the programs on the ground were often inadequately developed and resulted in little adoption of techniques by local people in the targeted areas. Rights, responsibilities and tenure status were unclear and there was a lack of consideration of local cultures and customs. Furthermore, there were no clear institutional arrangements for management of rehabilitation areas after the projects ended. There have been some successful projects mainly distinguished by the active involvement of local people.

An example of a successful rehabilitation initiative from the ten case studies assessed is farm forestry in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta Province. The local community started rehabilitating the degraded land in the 1970s to restore the water resources for their own needs in this dry and poor region. The project was then implemented jointly by the community and the local forestry service using participatory approaches. The local government provided funding support. Other objectives were to increase forest cover, improve forest and land productivity, and conserve the soil. The dry landscape of 11,072 hectares has been regreened with mainly teak and some Acacia sp., and now provides both wood and ecological benefits. There are multipliers effects with a rise in land productivity, increased forest cover and water availability, decreased sedimentation rates and improved micro climate. All of the above have in turn resulted in increased supply of timber, fodder and fuel wood; and improved community income and access to education, health and other services. Ongoing challenges are linked to the current harvesting practices that are based on immediate needs which result in less bargaining power for the community in the sale of the timber. Identified needs are improved community skills on post-harvesting technology and management of household income, and better market information and bargaining strength.

There were some other case studies assessed which succeeded in the technical aspects (nursery and plantation establishment) but the projects were not sustainable. The main reasons were poor long-term plantation planning, poor coordination among the stakeholders and no legal rights over the rehabilitation outputs.

Key lessens learnt for enhancing the success of future rehabilitation initiatives are:

  1. Preliminary assessment at the start of the programs to identify the most appropriate and cost effective technical interventions.
  2. More effective and well-planned funding mechanism by a) ensuring the incorporation of incentive generation and reinvestment mechanisms as part of the project design, b) integrating centralized and decentralized budget allocation planning and c) promoting a less bureaucratic mechanism for the release of funds.
  3. Conducive policy framework through a) consistent and secure policies to ensure desired impacts in the long term, b) integrating centralized and decentralized rehabilitation planning as local government policies often accelerate the success of the project, and c) integrated approach (no integration was a key reason for failures).
  4. Institutional arrangements to be continued once the project has ended with an agency made responsible for continued management based on preliminary capacity assessment. Clear responsibilities should be assigned for managing the project during implementation and after completion. There is also a need to address information gaps at various levels, empower existing local institutions, and conduct participative evaluation (should not only focus on physical measures) and monitoring.
  5. It would be best if the government focused on non-commercial rehabilitation activities and let other players implement commercial programs.



  1. In Indonesia, both success and failure of rehabilitation projects are very site specific and the site (topography, soils, species matching, culture) should be thoroughly assessed in the initiation of any project. This issue is ignored in many projects.
  2. In forest rehabilitation, there is government attempt aimed to restore the original ecosystems, such as in several National Parks, by planting native species previously growing in the area.
  3. Farm forestry in Indonesia is subsided by the government. In Java, farm forestry was originally initiated by the government but now local communities are motivated to grow trees on their own land. The benefits of farm forestry are increased local wood supply, community income, forest cover and improved ecological conditions (micro climate and water resources).

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