Local Government Important in Sustainable Forest Management

Center for International Forestry Research signs Memorandum of Understanding with Malinau Regency – East Kalimantan, Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia

Reflecting the important role of local government in forest management and the welfare of local people who depend on forests, CIFOR signed its first Memorandum of Understanding with the regional government of Malinau on Monday, 13 May 2002.

The signing of the MOU coincides with the 32nd Session of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) being held this week in Bali. The ITTO is a major sponsor of CIFOR’s research into sustainable forest management on a 320 000-ha area of forest provided in 1996 by the Government of Indonesia. Now, with regional autonomy, the research area is under the control of the Malinau Regency.

“Malinau is one of the first Indonesian Regencies to take the lead in trying to conserve local forest and to develop environmental services and community based forest management,” CIFOR Director General, Dr David Kaimowitz, said.

“With the support from the ITTO and the UK Government, and now the Malinau Regency, CIFOR will work closely with local communities in Malinau to develop long-term sustainable management practices for forests in Kalimantan and hopefully around the world.”

“CIFOR looks forward to a successful and long-lasting working relationship with Regency Head Martin Bila and the Malinau Regency, and to developing innovative models of forest management.”

Malinau is the home of one of Indonesia’s largest parks, the 1.4 million-hectare Kayan Mentarang National Park, and is an important site of remaining lowland Dipterocarp forest in Asia.

CIFOR’s research in Malinau is proving useful in a number of areas:

  • For instance, companies that use CIFOR’s reduced-impact logging guidelines can harvest 7-9 trees per hectare and still minimize damage to the soil and water resources. Planning how logged trees will fall and be removed reduces damage to remaining trees by 30-50%. By using these guidelines, companies pay less for regeneration treatments and governments pay less to monitor their implementation.
  • CIFOR has also worked closely with local communities to determine the animals and plants they consider important. One finding demonstrates a decline in locally important rattan and pigs is due to regulations requiring loggers to slash undergrowth to encourage regeneration. By showing how policy affects biodiversity and impacts on local communities, CIFOR encourages decision-makers to adopt more sustainable planning practices.
  • Despite increasing employment opportunities, poorer and often less-employable forest-dependent people continue to rely on forest products for survival. CIFOR’s research into how different forest communities use and regard different forest products will assist policy-makers formulate regional autonomy and development initiatives that match more closely the needs of forest-dependent communities.
  • CIFOR has analyzed the conflict that can occur between villages over land boundaries. Although many villages resolve their differences, research shows the agreements reached are often unstable, especially when village leaders are not transparent in their negotiations or if a power imbalance exists between villages. Local government can play an important role in facilitating more stable agreements. Such agreements are crucial to successful long-term resource management partnerships.