Timber concessions vs community forests
Massive logging has been identified as Cambodia's main environmental problem. Since the 90s, the timber sector, replicating the globalised forest management pattern that prioritises short-term financial profit to ecological stability, aggressively exploits Cambodian forests. Virtually all forestland, except for protected areas, has been allocated as concessions to mostly foreign companies. Additionally, the mid-nineties were characterized by large-scale uncontrolled and illegal logging activities throughout the country. It is estimated that 90% of the logging activities in 1997 were illegal.
An Asian Development Bank-funded forest sector review conducted in 1999 and released in 2000 described the situation as a "total system failure." The report expressed that "The scenario is clear: the industry wants to cover its investment costs rapidly and continue earning as long as the resource lasts. In permitting this level of forest exploitation, Cambodia displays a classic example of unwise forest resource utilization. The country may soon turn from being a net exporter of timber to a net importer."
Faced with the possibility of a moratorium on logging, the timber industry opted for a "voluntary restructuring process", which included re-negotiation of contracts that clearly defined responsibilities and rights of the industry and the government, the payment of overdue deposits and minimal royalties and the submission of new management plans according to standards set out in a new model concession agreement.
However, the structures put in place to ensure credible monitoring and law enforcement were grossly inadequate. Since the Prime Minister's announcement in 1999 to crackdown on illegal logging, the government agency in charge basically adopted the view that Cambodia is now free of the illegal logging problem. Illegal logging is by now considered small-scale timber theft, that is still widespread and, from time to time, publicly suppressed by the authorities. Law enforcement activities are so far not targeting organized businesses and very rarely military personnel involved.
The introduction of the Forest Crime Monitoring Project has not fulfilled expectations, partly due to technical and logical set-up failures, but mostly because of the lack of institutional support and political will on the government side. The agencies in charge lack capacity and motivation to consistently follow the progress, or shortcomings, of the reform process. In-country capacity to guide and supervise the process was --and is-- extremely limited. In particular the World Bank's approach of focusing on "illegal" logging instead of actively reducing the underlying system failures has reduced the momentum for change since 1999.
An international panel of experts reviewing the sector assessment underlined the report's findings, but explicitly stressed the fact that the report concentrates heavily on the narrow view of forestry from an engineering and timber harvesting perspective, without adequately addressing overall strategic land-use planning issues such as community forestry, environmental and social values, which are fundamental to forest management planning.
More and more the values and benefits of a different approach and understanding of "forest management", for local communities as well as for the overall economic and social development of developing countries, are widely recognised.
The concept of industrial timber concessions to utilise tropical timber resources, developed in the seventies, especially if run by foreign companies, has proven to be unsatisfying and in some cases disastrous in numerous countries in the region and beyond.
In the case of Cambodia, it is promising that after years of preparations, false starts and stalling, a new Sub-Degree on Community Forestry is finally on its way. Experiences with the Forest Crime Monitoring Project have shown that communities play a crucial role in monitoring and safeguarding Cambodia's forests. Facing destruction and loss of their livelihood, communities are starting to organise themselves with petitions, demonstrations and direct confrontations with loggers and the military, with sometimes surprisingly successful outcomes.
The time is right for the Cambodian government and the international community to actively encourage and support this process.
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 53, December 2001
Gender bias and disempowerment in World Bank-funded forestry projects
Elected forest councils (Van Panchayats) have been the only existing example of reasonably autonomous legal space for community forest management in India. After having managed for years demarcated village forests in Uttarakhand, the hill region of Uttar Pradesh, Van Panchayats are being replaced by top-down "participatory" forestry projects pushed by the World Bank.
In the village of Pakhi in Chamoli district, from where the Chipko movement against commercial forest exploitation had begun in the early 70's, neither the women nor the poor --targetted as primary beneficiaries of these new forestry projects-- were consulted and their existing management system was not even taken into account.
The village forest is rich in biodiversity, with mixed species dominated by oak and rhododendron, and a sprinkling of deodar (Himalayan cedar). Its primary benefits have been fuelwood, fodder, leaf litter for animal bedding and other non-timber forest products, rather than cash income. These have been critical for sustaining local agro-pastoral livelihoods, still predominantly subsistence based. Collection of fuelwood, fodder and water is almost exclusively women's work in the hills. Decisions about when to open the forest for grass, leaf and firewood collection, the rules for collection, the fines for violation, etc. were taken by the women, ensuring that forest product collection did not conflict with periods of heavy agricultural work. As no external funds were available, the women used to repair the forest boundary wall with voluntary labour.
Although pleased with having appropriated control over the village forest, the women had expressed resentment over the men leaving all the forest protection work to them on the grounds that only women need the forest. However, when important village related decisions are made, the women are often kept in the dark.
This complaint became starkly true with the introduction of "participatory" village forest joint management (VFJM) under a World Bank funded forestry project in August 1999. The offer of a significant budget for the village forest led to a rapid gender based shift in power and control. The same men, about whom the women complained of leaving all forest protection work to the women, suddenly became over enthusiastic for it. Three watchmen were employed and initially they even monopolised wage work in the project financed nursery. Only after strong protests by the women were some of them employed.
But the men too are losers. They have a similar loss in local decision making control to the Forest Department. According to the president of the council, the new VFJM reduced the villagers' role from being responsible for forest management to providing information for preparation of the microplans and working as paid labour for forestry operations. The microplans are cast in the mould of plantation projects and reinforce the Forest Department's claim to being the monopoly holder of technical forestry knowledge, as well as the pattern of forestry as the best land use even for the remaining commons. This is despite its historical lack of experience in biodiverse forest management for enhancing livelihoods and ecological security.
In the words of one of the worried women, "In their lure for money, the men have made a deal over our village forest with the Forest Department", which has in fact become the only winner. These World Bank-funded projects have thus disempowered local women and men who have protected the forest while empowering a Forest Department with a long history of forest destruction.
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 49, August 2001
The need for community control over natural resources
"Nature can never be managed well unless the people closest to it are involved in its management and a healthy relationship is established between nature, society and culture. Common natural resources were earlier regulated through diverse, decentralized, community control systems. But the state's policy of converting common property resources into government property resources has put them under the control of centralized bureaucracies, who in turn have put them at the service of the more powerful."
"The process of state control over natural resources that started with the period of colonialism must be rolled back. Given the changed socio-economic circumstances and greater pressure on natural resources, new community control systems have to be established that are more highly integrated, scientifically sophisticated, equitable and sustainable. This is the biggest challenge."
When over 50 of us from across the country --scientists, activists associated with people's movements for environment protection-- signed the above statement of shared concern in the Second Citizen's Report (1984-85), we were both describing the genesis of the problem of environmental degradation and alienation of local people from natural resources and the challenge of establishing community control over natural resources. The process of alienation began around 1860, during colonial days, when the British began to 'reserve' the forests as source of revenue for the state and for their commercial and industrial needs back home, and established the Forest Department in 1894.
This policy adversely affected the close and living relationship between natural resources, the tribals and rural poor who are critically dependent on them for their survival. While the so-called 'scientific management' may have served the strategic needs of the colonizer, it led to the destruction of the forest wealth of the people, adversely affected a wholesome lifestyle and culture on one hand and hit at their very survival base and a great civilization that had established a healthy relationship between nature, culture and society, on the other.
This paper (available in full at the web address below) deals with the above broad issues of common lands (all lands except private lands) from our grassroot experience of over two decades to the difficult fight against the forest mafia and changes in the policy and legal arena for meaningful people-centred management of natural resources.
It also addresses the greater challenge of re-establishing, in the present context, community control and management of natural resources like water, forest, land and minerals on one hand and self-rule on the other. This can be achieved by adopting a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to the issues of forestry and common lands that takes us to the core of our notions of 'progress' and 'civilization'. What we need is a second freedom movement to place the issues of people's control over livelihood resources and 'self rule' on the national agenda, a task unfinished by our freedom movement.
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 64, November 2002.
Indigenous Peoples and Joint Forest Management
India's experiments with Joint Forest Management (JFM) grew out of attempts by forestry officials to accommodate 'tribal' demands to manage their own forests. [The indigenous peoples of India are officially referred to as 'Scheduled Tribes']. Under JFM forests remain the property of the State under the jurisdiction of Forest Departments but local communities are contracted to manage the forests and retain a portion of profits from the sale of harvests. The extent to which profits are shared with the communities varies considerably from state to state in India, as does the degree of forest department intervention.
However, JFM is notable for the low security of tenure it provides to participants. In most states, the Forest Protection Committees established to co-manage forests with the Forest Departments lack legal personality and have no status outside their relationship to the government agencies. Many of those involved in JFM thus see the process as just another means by which the Forestry Departments are able to organise local labour to improve public lands. However some in the forest service have argued that State intervention is crucial to ensure that the weaker sections of communities benefit from and are not further marginalised by JFM.
In the mid-1990s, large-scale foreign assistance, notably through concessional loans from the World Bank, was provided to help 'scale up' joint forest management. Notionally, the programme now embraces the whole country. However, the programme has begun to run into serious problems. One set of problems derives from the lack of real political will in some States to implement the programme. In Indian states where the programme was 'home grown' and implanted by leading foresters, the scaling up has been relatively successful. In these states, the existence of a least some committed foresters, active social movements pressing for reform and a network of concerned NGOs, has ensured that mechanisms have developed to monitor progress and provide accountability. However, in other states which have accepted the programme mainly as a result of national policy change and the provision of outside funds, these checks and balances have been lacking. Forestry Department officials have resisted what they see as an erosion of their authority. Joint Forest Management schemes have thus been implemented half-heartedly, with inadequate community preparation and with too much authority being retained by officials. In these circumstances scope for the application of local institutions, knowledge and initiative has been frustrated and enthusiasm for JFM has been correspondingly weak.
A second set of problems has come from the inflexible application of the JFM concept. JFM was originally conceived by foresters as a way of encouraging the rehabilitation of degraded 'forest' lands. The programme is thus only applied in areas where natural forests are already lost and local communities require help to restore forest cover and achieve (or regain) a more sustainable forest management system. Ironically this has meant that those communities which have not significantly depleted their forests do not qualify for the programme. Many of the tribal groups in Central India have been caught out by this Catch 22.
In other areas, tribals have felt excluded from JFM because opportunities to participate have been monopolised by higher caste groups who have been able to use their greater access to officials to secure participation in the JFM scheme. Marginalised and technically landless groups like the tribal peoples have thus seen 'degraded lands' and 'wastelands' that were important to their livelihoods annexed to JFM, leaving them further impoverished.
Surprisingly, despite its policy on indigenous peoples, World Bank support for JFM, has not helped focus attention on the special needs of indigenous peoples. In January 2000, the World Bank abruptly pulled out of the Madhya Pradesh Forestry Project after tribal groups frustrated at the way JFM was being imposed on their traditional lands without their rights or interests being accommodated travelled all the way to Delhi to visit the World Bank office and voice their complaints. Denied access to the building, the tribals camped in the compound until the Bank accepted a petition from the group. World Bank staff privately admit that the project was not developed in accordance with its policy and was thus indefensible. Alarmed by this experience and facing complaints through the Inspection Panel, World Bank staff in India have discussed whether or not they should wind up their involvement in JFM altogether.
Among the lessons learned from the JFM experience are the following:
* communities can only
benefit if they also have adequate lands for subsistence outside forests
In general, however, most indigenous peoples in India see JFM as an (inadequate) first step towards the restitution of their rights.
By Marcus Colchester, Forest Peoples Programme, e-mail: email@example.com
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 63, October 2002.
The alternative approach of community forest management
The NGO Down to Earth has recently concluded a special report titled "Forests, people and rights", which provides very detailed analytical information on the forest situation in Indonesia. The following paragraphs have been extracted from the chapter "Community forest management: the way forward" and we recommend our readers to access the full document (see details below).
According to the study, forest peoples have been regarded by Indonesia's powerful wood industry and successive governments in Jakarta as an obstacle to the profitable exploitation of the forests and their skills and knowledge were unrecognised, until very recently.
However, community forest management provides an alternative approach which puts forest peoples at the centre of decision-making and sees them, not as a problem to be dealt with, but as a key part of the solution. In Indonesia, the community forestry movement starts from the premise that the domination of the state, the centralised nature of forest management and the state's refusal to recognise adat (indigenous) rights are the major causes of deforestation and forest degradation.
Community-based natural resource management seeks to guarantee access and control over forest resources for people living in and around forests who depend on them for their economic, social, cultural and spiritual well-being. Forests should be managed to provide inter-generational security and increase the likelihood of sustainability. It is based on three principles:
* the rights and responsibilities over forest resources must be clear, secure and permanent;
* the forests must be properly managed so that there is a flow of benefits and added value;
* forest resources must be transferred in good condition to ensure their future viability.
Communities wanting to retain, construct or develop community-based management schemes face major challenges: the wider political and economic imperatives of international financial institutions which prioritise revenues from timber; central government policies entrenched in the past; rampant corruption; the threat of violence and intimidation arising from the weak judicial system coupled with a military and police force which continues to act with impunity.
Forest peoples face internal challenges too. Decision-making within traditional indigenous communities may be hierarchical. Women, the poorest members of the community --particularly the landless or low status families-- and seasonal forest users may not have a say in how resources are apportioned. And they also undergo changes: people who practised subsistence forest farming and had little need for cash even a generation ago now want money to pay for clothing, medical care, outboard motors for canoes (and diesel for them), school uniforms and books. Transport and accommodation costs incurred during visits to lobby local and central government officials are becoming a common budget item for forest peoples.
The forests on which these traditional lifestyles depend have also changed. Large tracts of forest formerly reserved intact as insurance for hard times or as a legacy for future generations have been at best logged over and at worst cleared for plantations. The valuable resins, rattans and forest fruits which used to be traded are becoming scarcer, as are the medicinal plants used by shamans for traditional healing. As the forests disappear, so do the skills and knowledge of indigenous communities.
Indigenous communities are not the only ones living in and around what remains of Indonesia's forests. Migrants from other areas --even other islands-- peasant farmers dispossessed by plantations and urbanisation, transmigrants and miners are all laying claim to these lands and resources. Some may have lived there for several generations. Negotiations between all these groups must take place to avoid conflict.
Indonesia's forest peoples are well aware of the need to adapt their institutions to a changing world and are discussing such issues as identity, sovereignty and legal representation both within their own communities and with others. They are using new opportunities provided by the regional and national indigenous peoples' alliances (AMA and AMAN) to move these debates forward.
Civil society organisations and a growing number of funding agencies in Indonesia and abroad recognise that consistent support for forest peoples to develop their own strong, dynamic, inclusive and democratic organisations is vital to gain wider support for community-based forest management and effect a shift away from 'the timber-mining' regime that has proven so disastrous until now.
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 60, July 2002.
The seed for the initiative on Good Forest Governance (GFG) in Asia was planted at the Forest, Trees and People Program (FTPP) meeting held in Daman, Nepal, April 2000. Partners at that meeting recognized the need to involve civil society more actively in community-based forest management (CBFM), as well as the possible roles of a regional association to support this process.
Two years later, the GFG seed began to germinate with the support of a Ford Foundation grant to the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC) aimed at testing:
* The feasibility of
a GFG program with existing and new RECOFTC partners
During the past months, a series of planning events in Thailand --coupled with GFG workshops and related events at the WSSD PrepCom IV in Bali and the Summit in Johannesburg-- have led to the development of workplans, new partnerships, and the launching of an Asian Alliance for GFG.
GFG Framework and Objectives
The underpinning rationale, conceptual framework and possible functions of the GFG initiative were articulated in a draft position paper.(1)
The GFG framework (see below) has been adapted from the 'governance map' developed by Hobley and Shields (2) for analyzing and improving the relationships among key actors in CBFM- forest users, natural resource management (NRM) agencies and the political environment.
Through various consultations
and refinements, the main objectives of the GFG initiative have evolved
into the following:
2. To support GFG initiatives at different levels in Asian countries, and to monitor the effects of wider political processes on forest governance.
3. To develop effective channels of communication to (a) enable forest users to increase their voice and impact, and (b) improve the relationships among a diverse group of stakeholders.
Networking and Information Support
In an effort to disseminate relevant information and stimulate discussion and interaction among those interested in Good Forest Governance and community-based forest management RECOFTC has set up the following communications channels:
* A web page devoted
to the GFG initiative ( http://www.recoftc.org/forgov.html )
It is hoped that these channels, along with the WRM website and bulletin, will be used routinely and frequently by GFG and CBFM partners to promote networking, information sharing and peer support.
The various planning and workshop events have enabled the formulation of GFG country-level workplans by partners from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. These represent a rich array of activities at the local and national levels, focusing on themes such as:
* developing and institutionalising
arrangements for learning
Together, these country activities provide a solid foundation upon which regional activities may be developed for greater synergy and complementarity. Four regional activities have emerged as priorities:
* Compiling and analysing
national/local level assessments of GFG
Partners emerged from Johannesburg with a shared vision and shared commitment to GFG. Among the next steps agreed to were the following:
1. Move ahead with
local and national activities
2. Consolidate GFG work-plans, finalise terms of reference for interim working group and facilitator, and mobilise human resources to get things moving.
3. Focus on the passage
of the Thai community forestry bill
4. Continue to link
with the CBFM Global Caucus
5. Use GFG framework to analyse country situation and adapt as needed
RECOFTC has offered to host and support an interim secretariat for GFG during the initial two-year feasibility phase. Efforts are underway to mobilise:
* An interim working
group to provide overall governance and guidance; and
By Chun K. Lai, RECOFTC, http://www.recoftc.org/forgov.html , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) "Moving Towards
Good Forest Governance in Asia and the Pacific: A Draft Position Paper
Prepared as Part of Indonesian People's Forum During PrepCom IV of WSSD
to stimulate dialogue and interest in GFG." RECOFTC, Bangkok, May
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 63, October 2002.
Forests in Indonesia have been rapidly depleting since the 1960s when the practice became prevalent of handing out logging concessions to military commanders. Logging quickly expanded to supply cheap logs to the Japanese timber industry principally to produce plywood. Under heavy pressure from government-directed colonisation programmes forest loss escalated, a process further exaggerated by large-scale schemes, some developed with foreign assistance, to expand tree crops in 'conversion forests'. In the mid-1970s, the Indonesian government restricted and then banned the export of unprocessed logs which had the effect of providing a protective market for a domestic plywood and timber processing industry, which developed a voracious appetite for timber. Demand soon outstripped supply and hastened the extension of the logging frontier into the remoter parts of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the Moluccas and 'Irian Jaya' (West Papua). By the late 1980s, NGOs were estimating deforestation in Indonesia at around 1 million hectares a year, a figure long denied by the government. Recent studies put the rate of forest loss even higher --at some 3 million hectares per year-- and note that over half of all timber is being extracted illegally.
As the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry has noted:
"In the early 1980s, in what could be considered one of the largest land grabs in history, the government implemented a forest zonation system that classified most of the Outer Islands as forestlands. Seventy-eight percent of Indonesia, or more than 140 million hectares were placed under the responsibility of the Department of Forestry and Estate Crops. This included over 90% of the outer islands. Estimates place as many as 65 million people living within these areas. According to the Department of Forestry, the creation of the State forest zone nullified local 'Adat' rights, making thousands of communities invisible to the forest management planning process and squatters on their ancestral lands. As a result, logging concessions, timber plantations, protected areas, and government-sponsored migration schemes have been directly overlaid on millions of hectares of community lands, causing widespread conflict. Yet, in fact for many local people, traditional law, or 'hukum Adat', still governs natural resource management practices."
Since the fall of Suharto in 1998, the political protection afforded to his cronies has gradually been eroded and reform-minded politicians and officials have begun to push, tentatively for wider reforms in forest policy. Under pressure from NGOs and a civil society that grows daily more confident of itself, the Forestry Department has felt obliged to give way, at least in part, to demands for community access to and control of forests.
One area of dispute focuses on exactly which areas are classified as State Forests. Recently released official figures show that only 68% of the areas claimed as State Forests have actually been fully demarcated and gazetted, but no clear maps are available to help communities find out if they live in the gazetted areas or the remaining 32% which formally still remain under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Agrarian Lands. Besides many communities are now questioning the legality by which the forest lands were demarcated and gazetted. Formally required procedures to consult the local administration and affected communities were often not run through, opening up the possibility that the annexation of community lands to establish State Forests could now be challenged in the courts.
A vigorous civil society movement has emerged to challenge State control of forests including several broad alliances of NGOs and other civil society elements such as the Coalition for the Democratisation of Natural Resources (KUDETA), the Communication Forum on Community Forestry (FKKM), the Consortium for Supporting Community-Based Forest System Management (KpSHK) and the Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN). While their tactics and priorities vary, all have called for a devolution of control of forests to local communities. All these initiatives have benefited from considerable financial support from development NGOs and foreign Foundations.
The Forestry Department has taken various steps to accommodate this pressure. In January 1998 it passed a special decree recognising the rights of communities in Krui in West Lampung to have permanent control of their forests under community management. In mid-1999, the Government engaged in a consultation exercise with NGOs in drafting a new Forestry Act but the process broke down when it transpired that while a more-or-less open external drafting process was underway which involved civil society groups, the Ministry was simultaneously drafting its own version internally. It was the internal draft which was submitted to Parliament and ratified despite widespread objections including from former Ministers of the Environment and of Forests. Shortly after another piece of law was also passed in the period, Ministerial Decree, SK 677/1999 (revised in 2001 as SK 31/2001) which establishes a process by which communities can set up as cooperatives and secure 25 year leases to forests subject to government approval of the local management plans.
Although many NGOs are critical of the limited progress that these pieces of law represent, others consider them to be important steps towards a recognition of community rights in forests. The struggle for a reassertion of community forestry in Indonesia is really only just beginning.
By Marcus Colchester, Forest Peoples Programme, e-mail: email@example.com
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 63, October 2002.
Changes and Challenges of the Community-Based Forest Management Movement
The Indonesian NGO movement has been supporting CBFM start since 1995. The main message of the start-up phase was that most of the CBFM models that developed in a sustainable way were based on community wisdom, culture and custom.
The culture and customs of forest communities in Indonesia are influenced by the outside environment, including technology, public regulations and trends in global culture. Globalisation and development speed up the influence of the global culture on customary communities, which are usually found in the remote areas. These new cultural influences are usually more materialistic and individualistic than existing community culture and customs. The CBFM model, which used to be managed with a spirit of communality (both in communal or private land), has been changing towards individualism, from eco-ritualism to the money-orientation. The social, cultural and customary values of land and forest are slowly but surely changing towards commercialisation.
The change towards individualism and materialism is seen in the increasing conflicts over land, forest and other resources among community members. The conflict happens because the rapid changes are affecting the culture of land allocation and management.
Not all communities have changed as described above, but I believe that sooner or later, all community groups (including indigenous and customary communities) will change in this direction.
What should NGOs supporting CBFM do?
When we are aware about this situation, then the question is what should we do? Should we stay promoting the old CBFM model, do we have to find the new model, or, should we go back to the conventional model (the state-based systems of land management)?
In my opinion, I would like to say that we have to promote the CBFM model with some improvements. There are three reasons for that opinion, which are: First, the governance system in Indonesia is not well-managed; and state-based forest management therefore cannot be implemented properly. If the government tries again to force the state-based model of forest management on communities, then there will be more and more conflict in natural resources management between communities, the government and the private sector. Also, we will have more and more corruption, collusion and nepotism in the forestry sector, which in the end will speed up the destruction of the forests. Second, local communities inside or adjacent to forests have a history binding them to that area, making them more responsible in sustaining the forests. Third, local communities have indigenous knowledge which can be a basis for achieving sustainable forest management.
Therefore, the CBFM movement in Indonesia must continue to face a lot of challenges. The supporters of the CBFM movement must be aware about the trends of cultural change in rural communities to avoid wrong assumptions and inappropriate actions.
In facing the challenges in CBFM development, we found some obstacles, which are:
1. The weakness of local institutions (especially lack of conflict resolution mechanisms and enforcement systems)
Based on our experiences, it is difficult for local community institutions to adapt to the new changes and opportunities. There are a lot of community groups who cannot deal with the new changes. That raises a lot of internal conflicts which remain unsolved. Also we found a lot of weakness in the enforcement system. Very often community groups ask the government to solve their conflicts, while the government also has little or no capacity in conflict resolution.
2. The limit of technology and methodology on CBFM
Most of the forest management practices in Indonesia are based on big-scale operations and investment. The CBFM model is based on small-scale and small-investment approaches. Most of the technology and methodology of forest management available in Indonesia only suits big scale operations which imply road building and heavy equipment, and produce big-volumes of wood, and so on.
Based on our experiences of a community sawmill, we had to order most of the equipment from overseas, at great expense. Also, in small-scale forest management it is often difficult to find technical solutions to problems such as how to define the annual allowable cut, rotation, enrichments, etc. Most available experts are familiar with the big-scale pattern but not with small-scale community forestry. We found similar experiences in rattan resources management and processing. In summary, we do not have appropriate technology and methodologies for supporting CBFM in Indonesia, where communities want to produce for a wider market.
3. Lack of Supporting Systems
A support system is needed to help communities with access to market information, capacity building, technical assistance services, credit facilities and development of supporting regulation. To enable the success of CBFM, we have to re-arrange the public services system in Indonesia to meet those needs, and develop the skills to support small scale, community-based forest management.
By Ade Cahyat , Director
in East Kalimantan Foundation for Supporting CBFM (SHK Kaltim),
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 63, October 2002.
Lessons on gender from community based forest management
Many community-based forest management projects are implemented in the Philippines aiming at increasing community involvement in forest management and at providing employment and livelihood. Although there are many examples of successful cases, we decided to choose a less positive one, as a means to show how the exclusion of women or lack of gender awareness can lead to increasing gender inequalities, both within communities and in households.
An evaluation of a community-based forest management project in Pagkalinawan, Jala-Jala, in effect since 1972, shows that despite several positive impacts on peoples' livelihoods, the project had negative impacts for women.
Its failure was rooted in the fact that it did not recognise women's knowledge and the gender divisions of labour in the community and in the household. The project issued land use certificates and land titles --to improve land tenureship-- only to men, who thus became the ones to have access to and control over resources.
The project had the insidious effect of reinforcing patriarchy and establishing gender inequality in the community:
- Men had more opportunities to become representatives of the community and the market and to become powerful leaders in Pagkalinawan.
- Men, and not women, had links to external agencies (e.g., markets) through the credit facilities of the project.
- Men, and not women, had links to other economic and educational opportunities.
Community customary rights, land use and allocations were undermined upon the implementation of a pattern of privatisation of resources. Gender unbalance was thus linked to a hierarchical and male model rooted in dominion and control of nature along the lines of the globalisation "development" goal. From this experience it becomes clear that for a community-based forest management project to succeed, the inclusion of the gender dimension based on acknowledgement of women's knowledge, views and participation is a must.
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 58, May, 2002.
Community Forestry in the Philippines
The rapid depletion
of Filipino forests by logging, mining and settler encroachment was
officially acknowledged as requiring a policy response in the late 1980s.
The need to limit and regulate logging and to promote community forestry
alternatives was accepted by government by the end of the decade. In
1990, the government adopted a Master Plan for Forestry Development
which entailed an attempt to 'scale up' previous community-level initiatives
in forest management.
During the 1990s international assistance was poured into the forestry sector by bilateral and multilateral agencies. The Asian Development Bank gave substantial support to plantation development and the World Bank provided additional funds to overall forest sector development. Both lending programmes were modified to accommodate the Forestry Stewardship initiative, while the interests of communities in the face of plantations were promoted through 'contract reforestation' initiatives by which individuals, co-operatives or communities could secure financial and technical assistance for tree-planting schemes. At the same time, USAID targetted community forestry through two large Natural Resource Management Projects which provided special funds for the Department of Energy and Natural Resources to provide outreach to the rural poor. Although indigenous peoples made up at least 30% of the rural poor inhabiting Filipino forests, specific provisions for indigenous peoples were not prominent in the overall programme.
Despite the good intentions on the part of the donors, the overall impact of the forestry reform programme for the rural poor in general and indigenous peoples in particular has not been a great success. The main beneficiaries of the programme have been the plantation and seedling companies that have developed the plantations. Contract reforestation has been less successful in servicing local markets than anticipated and most of the contract reforestation schemes that have endured have been out-grower schemes for large-scale pulp and paper mills such as PICOP. In northern Mindanao, contract reforestation has actually drawn settlers onto indigenous lands and provoked serious conflicts.
NGOs and indigenous spokespersons note a number of other unhappy results of the forestry reform programme. One has been that the sector has become almost entirely dependent on donor support and is deprived of funding and political support from central government. As a result the programme has not been 'rooted' in domestic processes of policy or institutional reform and the connections between the aid-funded reform and local political processes have been weak or absent. Community forestry has thus become a donor-driven enclave within the political economy, tolerated as a way of capturing foreign exchange rather than one promoted to achieve sustainable development. Consequently, the affected communities have been further distanced from national reform politicians and instead of being empowered and better connected to national policy processes find themselves burdened by the new community forestry bureaucracy which has expanded massively thanks to the foreign funding. The overall verdict of many NGOs and community activists is that forestry reform has suffered from too much top-down money. The donor-driven programme tried to build on an incipient civil society initiative before there had been any real institutional change nationally. The result was a programme which swamped the national reform process and which has left indigenous peoples less empowered than before.
By Marcus Colchester, Forest Peoples Programme, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 63, October 2002.
An experience of Community Based Forest Management
Until the late 1970s, the approach to community based forest management in Nepal implied community resource relations along the lines of the indigenous system of forest management prevailing in Nepal's hills.
During the 80s and early 90s, community based forest management became a government priority programme and the new policy framework set up implied an interface between communities, natural resources and government bureaucracy.
Further on, community forestry has been understood and conceptualised in terms of stakeholders relationship. There has been an increasing emergence and growth of mutually influencing community forest user groups, service providing agencies and organisations with diverse interests.
The present legal framework has legitimised the concept of Community Forest User Group (CFUG) as an independent, autonomous and self-governing institution responsible to protect, manage and use any patch of national forest with a defined forest boundary and user group members.
CFUGs are to be formed democratically and registered at the District Forest Office, with a CFUG Constitution, which defines the rights of the users to a particular forest. The forest is handed over to the community once the respective members, through a number of consultative meetings and processes prepare the Operational Plan, a forest working plan, and submits it to the District Forest Officer for approval.
There are now around 12,000 Forest User Groups (FUGs) formed in Nepal during a period of 14 years, with nearly 1.2 million household members, which account approximately 20% of the country's population who have taken over responsibility to manage about 850,000 hectares of forest areas, nearly 16% of the total forest land of the country.
The process of community based forest management has contributed to the improvement of forest conditions as well as to a reduction in the time spent for collecting forest products, thus improving community livelihoods. It has also increased social cohesion, integrating those who have been excluded from mainstream social and political processes, and has increased knowledge and skills related to forest and organisation management, as well as community and leadership development through several training, workshops and exposure visits at community, government and non-government level. FUGs have been able to generate financial capital from the sale of forest products, levies and outside grants. In turn, many of these FUGs have established low interest credit schemes as well as grants to poorer household members.
However, there are still gaps to fill in the implementation of community forests which reflect weak FUG level governance in many cases. Examples of that are measures which have reduced access to forest products and forced allocation of household resources for communal forest management with insecurity over the benefits, or marginalisation of groups in multi-stakeholder settings which have often been excluded and under-valued, with the perception that they have less ability to make and act on decisions. Further innovation, reflection and modification in community forestry is needed according to local contexts to address social issues such as gender and equity.
In spite of those shortcomings, the Nepalese experience is a source of inspiration to all of us working for sustainable forest management and users' rights, since it has proved that communities are able to protect, manage and utilise forest resources sustainably.
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 64, November 2002.
A diversity-based community forest management system
Among at least 400 modern "community forest" systems in the hilly upper Northern region of Thailand is that of Mae Khong Saai village in Chiang Dao district of Chiang Mai province. The system features 57 hectares of agricultural fields in which at least 10 different types of paddy rice are grown in stepped fields in the valley bottoms. Some 10 varieties of dryland rice are also cultivated in hill fields, which rotate on a cycle of 3-5 years.
Some 643 hectares of community use forest are carefully distinguished from 980 hectares of protected forest, between them encompassing six different native forest types. Some 58 herbal medicines on which villagers depend are locally cultivated, some in a protected pharmaceutical garden in the middle of the forest. Altogether, forest food and medicine yield the equivalent of US$700 per year for each of the village's 22 households. As well as providing wood for local use, the forests also help preserve the nature of the streams that lace the area, which provide water for agriculture and drinking, as well as the 17 carefully conserved species of fish which supplement the local food supply.
All aspects of the system --agriculture, community-use forest, protected forest, fisheries-- are interdependent. The whole pattern, meanwhile, relies for its survival on local villagers' protection. For example, the use of fire is carefully controlled by locals so that devastating blazes don't strike the local forest, as they often do the surrounding region's monoculture tree plantations.
Regular monitoring, together with a newly-formalized system of rules and fines covering forest, stream and swidden use, helps maintain the local biotic mosaic. Political vigilance is also crucial. In 1969, locals teamed up with concerned government officials to stave off a threat by commercial loggers to devastate the area. Today, Mae Khong Saai villagers are fighting a 1993 government decree ordering them out of the Wildlife Sanctuary which was established in 1978 on the land they inhabit and protect.
Mae Khong Saai's insistence on local stewardship is obviously good for the area's biodiversity. A recent rapid wildlife survey in and around the village resulted in sightings of many species --including a flock of Oriental Pied Hornbills (Anthracoceras albirostris)-- that indicate that the area is one of the most biologically diverse in Thailand. Animals including bear, dear, gibbon, boar and various wild cats, as well as over 200 species of birds, take advantage of the tapestry of local ecosystems.
Thoroughly integrated with lowland economies, polities and cultures, Mae Khong Saai couldn't be further from the romantic cliché of a completely isolated, self-sufficient community. As well as marketing forest products, many community members periodically take jobs far outside the community, some in distant cities. In their defense of local livelihoods and the biodiversity they rely on, moreover, Mae Khong Saai's residents depend partly on alliances they have fashioned not only with similar communities across Thailand's northern mountains but also with urban-based NGO movements. Arguably, the community owes even its current identity and way of life on the periphery partly to the history of uneasy relations between the Karen people who inhabit it and the modern, nationalistic, racialist Thai state which has developed over the past century. Whatever successes its forest stewardship system achieves will owe much to the way it is able to converse and negotiate with lowland and international powers in renewing its strategies for local control.
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 40, November 2000
Senate blocks draft community forest bill
Thailand's Upper House of Parliament or Senate recently blocked the passage of the draft Community Forest Bill and proposed amendments that would prevent local people having a greater role in managing Thailand's forests and ultimately lead to the eviction of thousands of forest-dwelling communities.
The draft bill was approved by a majority of Members of Parliament (MP) in the Lower House earlier last year. But the senate amendments have forced the draft bill back to the Lower House for review by a committee comprising members of both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.
The draft bill recognises the legal status of communities living in and around Thailand's National Forest Reserves and proposes the establishment of community forests by rural communities to manage forest areas in cooperation with the Royal Forestry Department.
The result of more than ten years of negotiations between government officials particularly the Royal Forestry Department (RFD), village people and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), the draft community forest bill would be Thailand's first legislation recognising the rights of forest-based communities to use, manage and protect their forests.
The draft community forest bill is also one of the first pieces of legislation to use a Constitutional mechanism that allows local people to propose legislation with the support of 50,000 signatures --local people from all over Thailand gathered 52,698 signatures and presented the community forest bill to Parliament in early 2000.
Joni Odachao, a Karen leader, stated: "Village people proposed the draft community forest bill according to the Article 170 of the Constitution. But our senators have disheartened us."
The senate amended Articles 18, 29 and 31 in the draft community forest bill. Article 18 of the draft bill states that the right to propose an area of community forest is limited to groups comprised of at least 50 persons aged 18 and above from a traditional community that is native or indigenous to the area, which has been actively engaged in forest preservation for at least the previous five years. In fact, this Article evolved from Thailand's Constitution of 1997 that supports the participation of local communities in the management of natural ecosystems.
The senators amended the article by excluding communities living in "protected forest areas" such as areas declared as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and classified watersheds.
Supporters of the bill say the exclusion of community forests from protected forests threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of rural people particularly ethnic communities who live in and around national parks and upland watershed areas.
Article 29 allows a community forest group to request changes to the boundaries of community forest areas for the improvement of its management plan, or for the revocation of the entire or part of a community forest, provided valid and clear reasons are provided to the Community Forestry Committee.
The senators voted to prohibit any expansion of a designated community forest area. On Article 31, the senators stated that local communities require the permission of Thailand's Royal Forestry Department in order to gather forest products.
The bill's supporters say the prohibition on expansion of community forest areas and restrictions on forest use would discourage local forest protection initiatives and drastically limit the participation of forest-dependent communities in using, protecting and managing forests.
Senators who voted against the bill included Thailand's leading legal experts such as human rights lawyers Thongbai Thongpao and Sak Koseangreung and members of the Constitution Drafting Council such as Panas Tassaniyanond and Kaewsan Attibhoti.
Explaining his vote, Thongbai stated that he wanted to ensure the bill would not have a loophole to cause deforestation in the future. He told Thailand's English-language newspaper The Nation that: "For the present the forest dwellers could behave well in managing the forest, but in the next ten years when their community grows, how could they survive if they don't encroach on more forest areas?"
Both Kaewsan and Thongbai explained that they were concerned about the rights of people who had occupied plots of forest before the land was declared protected. "The community forest and communities in the forests are not the same issue. They should call on the government to revoke the protected status if they can verify that they occupied the land before the Royal Forestry Department declared the protected area," Kaewsan said.
Surapol Takham of the Northern Farmers Network, a coalition of local community organisations in north Thailand supporting the community forest bill, expressed disappointment with the Senate's views of the bill. "The public believes that the draft bill will divide and distribute the forests among villagers. In fact, the bill aims to make us responsible for protecting nature in our communities. It doesn't allow a person or group of people to live in, or make a living in the forest," he said.
Covering about 15-17 per cent of the total land area, Thailand's forest areas contain an estimated eight to 15 million people farming a quarter to a third of the country's agricultural fields. The country's protected area system comprising 119 national parks (excluding 27 marine national parks) and 55 wildlife sanctuaries cover more than 240,000 hectares.
More than 8,000 "community forests" all over Thailand are being used, protected and managed by local communities, some over several generations. The draft bill was intended to legalise these community forest areas and provide official recognition for local people's forest conservation efforts.
However, the RFD and some nature conservation groups such as the Dhammanat Foundation in North Thailand have consistently opposed the draft bill's proposal to establish community forests inside national parks, wildlife sanctuaries or classified watersheds.
For RFD officials and nature conservationists, rural people's forest-based activities such as gathering forest products, rotational farming or subsistence agriculture are considered inherently destructive.
Stemming from a "science of forestry" with its historical roots in the industrialised countries, the conservationist ideology separates forests from rural societies, local knowledge systems and livelihoods.
Through simplifying and reducing diverse local contexts and natural ecosystems, forests are divided into "wilderness" areas where human activity is strictly prohibited or areas for commercial activities such as logging or establishing commercial plantations for the timber and pulp industry.
The conservationist approach does not allow for a variety of conservation areas and village-level conservation activities that involve rural interaction and cooperative decision-making on the use and protection of natural ecosystems.
Such type of nature conservation groups and forestry officials therefore prefer village people living in forests to be either resettled or to have severe restrictions imposed on their use of forests.
The conservationist approach, however, has spectacularly failed either to prevent the continuing deforestation of Thailand's remaining forests from widespread illegal logging involving powerful business interests or to support the forest-based livelihoods of rural communities.
The RFD's previous attempts at forcible resettlement of communities living in protected areas have increased the impoverishment of local communities, worsened rural conflicts and caused further loss of forest areas as displaced people clear forests elsewhere.
Given the existing fierce antagonism of the RFD and some nature conservation groups to rural communities living in and using forest areas, the senate amendments pose a serious threat to the livelihoods of thousands of rural communities especially ethnic peoples as they face eviction and the loss of their homes, fallows, fields and forests.
Pinkaew Luangaramsri, an anthropologist in Chiang Mai University, explained that the Senate amendments reflect the increasingly powerful view of an elite in Thai society that is "anti-rural" and seeks to maintain forests for "wilderness conservation" and "recreation".
"The debate on the draft community bill is essentially a class conflict: between rural communities who depend on forests for their livelihoods and an urban-based elite and middle-class that wants to preserve "wilderness" to be used for recreation, trekking and tourism," she stated.
By: Rajesh Daniel, TERRAPER, e-mail: email@example.com
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 57, April, 2002.
Forests Communities to Renew Struggle for Rights
More than ten years of negotiations between government officials, local community groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have led to a draft community forest bill which would be Thailand's first legislation recognising the legal status of communities living in and around Thailand's National Forest Reserves to use, manage and protect their forests in co-operation with the Royal Forestry Department.
Last year, the bill had been passed by the Lower House but subsequently was blocked by the Upper House (Senate) which proposed amendments that would basically subvert the intent of the bill and could lead to the resettlement of local communities, particularly ethnic minorities, living in protected forests areas such as national parks. After the Senate (Upper House) amended the draft bill, the draft has been returned to the Lower House (LH) for consideration. Although the bill should have come up for consideration by the Lower House in end September, it has now been postponed to January 2003.
A recent Cabinet reshuffle including the establishment of a new Ministry of Natural Resources, as well as some uncertainty with the political fall-out if the Bill is passed, have supposedly been the reasons that led to the postponement of consideration of the bill, according to some sources within government. When the Lower House does consider the Bill, it has two choices: agree to the Senate's amendments and pass the Bill, or disagree in which case a joint parliamentary committee will be set up to consider the bill. Fortunately, the second option seems more likely at this stage. If the joint committee is set up, it is expected to take a month to consider the amendments, make revisions and send the bill back to both houses of Parliament for consideration.
The Senate's amendments to the Bill have also slowed the whole process down, resulting in frustration for local community groups who needed the Bill to be passed as soon as possible to prevent potential displacement from their homes in forest areas.
Local community groups
and NGOs in North Thailand are organising a large conference on community
forests and inviting the Minister of the newly-formed Ministry of Natural
Resources and other politicians to muster political support. In Bangkok,
academics organised a seminar for academics to support the original
draft Bill passed by the Lower House. NGOs and academics in Bangkok
and elsewhere are starting a postcard campaign, and have printed 60,000
postcards supporting that Bill. About 1,000 academics all over Thailand
have already signed a letter supporting the Bill. International support
from NGOs and academics is also being received (you can sign and send
the sample letter posted in the WRM Web page: http://www.wrm.org.uy/alerts/september02.html#1
By Rajesh Daniel, TERRA/PER, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: WRM's bulletin Nº 63, October 2002.
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