For forest communities, migration is an important livelihood strategy. The primary driver of migration in our research areas in Malinau has changed from employment to education. In Kapuas Hulu, migration for high-level education is also gradually increasing, but here, finding better employment is still the most important reason for migration.
Young, educated migrants from Malinau, interviewed in the city where they are studying, are eager to return to their homeland. They reported that they hope to get a formal job, but would like to maintain agriculture/forestry as an additional activity.
In Kapuas Hulu, particularly in areas where the main – or only – economic opportunity is swidden, men and young people move to find better employment outside their village. Women are left behind to take care of swidden and other activities in the village.
Economic migrants are expected to send remittances back, while education migrants receive support from home. These different patterns of migration have implications for forest management and policies.
Youth, especially those returning from education migration, can become agents of change in local communities; for example, in government programs, such as Forest Management Units and social forestry programs. Educated migrants who have not returned can market the social forestry outputs.
Women, generally, are an important source of labor and knowledge for social forestry programs and need to be able to obtain benefits from such programs.
Steps toward the long term sustainability of the social forestry program include: mapping the skills needed; introducing the program to the younger generation; offering special incentives within the existing scholarship schemes to encourage students to become involved in social forestry; and using information technology to develop capacity and monitor the social forestry progress.