Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Community Forestry in the province of Central Java Indonesia

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The Pursuit for greater Collaborative Forest Management in Benowo Village, Java, Indonesia

The community forestry program implemented in Benowo village of Central Java from 2001 to 2006 was the result of a population’s demand for increased access to forestland in attempts to improve livelihoods and help mitigate poverty (Maryundi & Krott, 2012). The state-run community forestry program, Pengelolaan Hutan Bersama Masyarakat (PHBM), proved to decrease overall access to forests and limit collection of NTFP’s and agricultural cropping (Maryundi & Krott, 2012). It started out as a generic model to be applied to multiple villages and comes with its own rules and regulations on the extent to which villagers have access and control over state forest reserves (Maryundi & Krott, 2012). This opened up a debate of whether the community forestry program was really beneficial to villagers or a canvas used by the state forest administration to organize forest management on their own terms.


Indonesia has a significant history with Dutch colonialism and the means of its forest management are associated with influences from this era (Maryudi, 2011). The nation applied aspects of the Dutch legal system to the formation of their policies such as the notion of customary law ruling the affairs of indigenous or other ancient populations (Colchester, 2002). It is a nation of diverse ethnicities and culture and has come to capture this trait through the nationalist slogan ‘Unity in Diversity’ (Colchester, 2002). Yet there remains tension between the diverse population of Indonesia and their governance. There are many distinct cultural and social practices around the country. Although all of these ‘distinct peoples’ coexist peacefully among one another, they all have different uses for resources such as forests and hence, have made forest management very hard to do successfully on grand scales (Colchester, 2002). The dictatorship, known as the Suharto regime, from 1967 to 1998 was also a huge influence on the allocation of resources in Indonesia. The Government saw national resources as a source of revenue to be exploited and had little regard for sustainable management and the rights of local peoples (Colchester, 2002). Since the collapse of this regime, many of its influences have remained on how national and stated forests are managed up to present day. There have been many attempts at concepts like community forestry as states are beginning to move away from ‘Centralistic Forest Traditions’, where the state has total control over the forest, the land and the people, to more social forms of forestry which take in to account rural livelihoods (Colchester, 2002).

Java, an island state in Indonesia, accounts for sixty percent of the Indonesian population yet is only six percent of the country’s landmass (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). The Perhutani, Indonesian State Forest Company, exercises ultimate control over Java’s forest resource management. It administers 2.5 million ha of forest nation-wide, 1.7 million ha of which are designated for industrial production and plantations, making for exclusionary policies when it comes to the needs of smaller communities (Maryudi, 2012). Furthermore, much of the forestland in Java is leased to foreign and domestic corporations for industrial plantation and logging (Maryudi, 2012). This is a reflection of the country’s colonial history as it emphasizes a foundation of capturing the most benefits from forests as possible through a ‘Scientific Forestry’ approach which separates nature from rural livelihoods and focuses solely on the profit from forest resources (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). Many forest dwellers in these smaller communities are labelled as illegal users according to state policies and often have extremely limited access to forest resources (Maryudi, 2011). This is the case for many forest users of Benowo village, located in the Menoreh hills of Central Java, Indonesia (Maryudi, 2012). There is a monoculture of pine plantations in the village, owned by the state, scattered among tree gardens and un-irrigated paddy-fields. The state forestland around the village has been cultivated for years by villagers with crops such as cloves, coffee and cacao as the village is located on extreme montanous terrains where these species grow well (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). The governance of state forests has been extremely unorganized largely due to the cenral government collapse in 1998. Access to land has been stringent and the monoculture of pine ruled by the state has been linked to water shortage problems in the village area, affecting agroforestry practices (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). Many leave the village to find alternate work in larger towns and cities as they can no longer depend on or have access to the forest to support their traditional way of life as farmers and collectors of non-timbre forest products (NTFP’s). Those who do stay in the village are forced to work in the pine industry which has taken over the local forest (Maryudi, 2012).

In 2001, the Java state government realized there was a need to take action towards mitigating and relieving rural poverty. Livelihoods in small villages all over Java were being affected by the strict control over access to forestland. The state proceeded to implement a general collaborative forest management program called Penglelolaan Hutan Bersama Masyarakat (PHBM) (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). This program was initially seen as a way to create cheap labour for industrial forest practices and is arguably still following this notion in less obvious ways. The main needs of the villagers of Benowo was increased access to forestland and legal collection of NTFP’s and agroforestry practices. The launch of PHBM was poorly communicated to villagers as they had little idea that implementation processes had begun. Local NGO, Yaysan Masta, stepped in to aid in communication of the laucnh of PHBM to villagers (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). The state forest office was initially reluctant to collaborate with locals in the management of forests, hence the little communication of the state collaborative management program. Yayasan Masta was a small threat to the forest office but was overlooked as it announced the ‘socialization’ of community forestry in Benowo (Maryudi & Krott, 2012).

This socialization process would entail the people to organize themselves within a formally registered forest user group. Village committees of Benowo continued to work with Yayasan Masta in dealing with legal requirements in creating such user groups (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). In 2006, the PHBM community forestry program was formally implemented in the village of Benowo which defined the degree of access villagers were granted to forestland and resources (Maryudi & Krott, 2012).

Tenure and Administrative Arrangements

Java, along with the rest of Indonesia, has historically granted large-scale concessions to large production industries and plantations, continuing to impact local community’s rights to forestland (Dahal et. al, 2011). There is zero privately-owned forestland distributed to communities and indigenous groups and there is very little public land in which these groups are granted access (Dahal et. al, 2011). In 1960, the Indonesian government adopted the Basic Agrarian Law (BAL) and in 1967 the Basic Forestry Laws (BFL) both of which reinforce state control of land and little regard for customary rights and collective tenure (Colchester, 2002). The BFL outlined the criminalization of shifting cultivation, the unauthorized cutting of trees, and the occupation of forests which is a significant issue in the legal access struggles of villagers in Benowo (Colchester, 2002). In the revised Forestry Act (1999), customary rights are recognized but all ‘customary forests’ were defined as State forests (Colchester, 2002).

The PHBM community forestry program was said to socialize forest management through the following:

• Increased legal access to state forestland

• Promote sustainable forest management

• Provide active participation by forest dwellers

• Improve decision making processes through village collaboration

• Provide a benefit-sharing program between the state and village group committees

Perhutani, the state forest office, takes control of the PHBM program in Benowo. The group committees formed during the implementation process were required by the forest office to control activity in the forests so that users abandon all illegal practices (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). The benefit sharing program put in place by the PHBM rewards village groups with cash from sales of main forest products when their contributions in reforestation, forest nurtures, and forest patrol is deemed sufficient by the state (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). The management practiced by the state in the forests of Benowo is bureaucratic as the state forest administration exercises the most power when it comes to decision-making processes.

Affected Stakeholders

Those who will be ultimately affected by the impacts of the PHBM program are the villagers of Benowo. The people who live in this area have used the forestland for farming and agricultural purposes and collection of NTFP’s for decades. Since surrounding forestland was placed under the control of the state, they have had limited legal access to the land and hence have participated in 'illegal activity' in order to fulfill their livelihoods (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). Since the BAL and BFL have give little regard to customary rights, the villagers of Benowo have minor power when it comes to the management of the forest and choosing access controls (Colchester, 2002).


Villagers continued to have very little control over access rights and management of the state forests after implementation of the PHBM program. This contributes to the strained relationship between villages and the State as the state fails to acknowledge any customary rights villages such as Benowo may have previously had (Kusumanto & Sirait, 2001).

Interested Stakeholders

The government of Indonesia influences much of the management practices of the nation, including Java, and is an interested outside stakeholder as it strives for large profit margins on industrial forest production. This influence shows through in state controls over forests such as that in Benowo but the federal government itself has little power in actions when it comes to resource allocation.

The Perhitani, Indonesian State Forest Company, is an interested outside stakeholder as it controls the management of forests in central Java and profits from the pine industry which has taken over this area. It has very high power in larger decision-making processes such as the launch and implementation of the PHBM program.

The Kedu-Selatan Forest District is an interested outside stakeholder responsible for the management of the state forests around Benowo and also receives profits from the pine industry in the area. It administers district and state foresters to work in the area whose power is relatively high.

The NGO, Yayasan Masta is an interested inside stakeholder which is unable to make any physical changes to the management decisions by the state but was enough of a threat to influence the full implementation of the PHBM community forestry program in 2006 by the Perhutani. Their power is relatively low.

The Lembaga Masyarakat Desa Hutan (LMDH) Sari Bumi Makmur is an interested inside stakeholder which was an alliance of village groups, including Benowo, and Yayasan Masta to bring awareness of opposition to state decisions. Their power is low and their influences and ideas are often by-passed by the PHBM (Maryudi & Krott, 2012).


The Perhutani and Kedu-Selatan Forest District officers and foresters continued to have the most control over state forest in Benowo. The way the PHBM community forestry program was designed and implemented gave them constant absolute power over access, management, and profit rights to the land. Yayasan Masta, the NGO, continued to be a good communication tool for villagers of Benowo but remained as a low power-impact source along with LMDH Sari Bumi Makmur (Pierce & Resosudarmo, 2002; Maryudi & Krott, 2012).


The PHBM community forestry program was implemented with the intention to help relieve rising rural poverty while opening up management practices to Benowo villagers to be more collaborative and interactive. After the program's launch and implementation, it was clear that the Perhutani and Kedu-Selatan Forest District had little interest in truly involving Benowo in decision-making processes. Although some means of legal access were improved and group committees were actively involved in the maintenance of the forestland, illegal activity continued as the PHBM failed to satisfy the needs of locals (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). There is very limited temporal access to forestland as the forest office is reluctant to trust that granting more access to locals would not impinge on the management of the forestland and its various industries including pine and timbre production. With this limited access, farmers are left with little space between the pine stands to grow crops. Furthermore, the state rarely maintains the stands which leads to illegal cutting and thinning by villagers to open up the canopy and allow sunlight to reach crips growing below (Maryudi & Krott, 2012).

The benefit sharing program implemented by the Perhutani turned out to be much lower than expected despite work put in by group committees to patrol the forest by state standards. There was also no increase in theses cash shares when pine and timbre production increased since the implementation of the community forestry program (Maryudi & Krott, 2012).

As the PHBM program has failed not only locals in Benowo but citizens all over Java, there is often ongoing tension between village groups and the State Forest office. The state often assigns targets for production to a number of local community forest areas without legal consent or acknowledgement of local users (Maryudi, 2011). Since the implementation of various community forestry programs around Java, there has been attempt at increased communication between the State and villages like Benowo. Ceremonial events are often held, inviting local governments to symbolically hand over share from sales of forest products to local forest communities. This is a step in a process of repair between the state and village relationship as the state wishes to be accepted by locals in community programs and initiatives (Maryudi, 2011).


In the years following the reform of the central government which fell in 1998, Indonesia has attempted to attend to critical environmental issues brought on by the short economic incentives the government often, and occasionally still follows (Warren & McCarthy, 2009). Although many state and governmental figures have started to think about the environmental and state forest access issues, it has proven to be a tricky area of repair as customary rights have been lost over the many years of state control. NGO's are a huge part of the re-integration of customary rights and reclassification of forestland and should be provided with more power and 'space' in state governance in the implantation of community forestry programs such as PHBM (Pierce & Resosudarmo, 2002). Giving more power and allowing communication between figures such as NGO's and the state will allow for increased communication between the state and small communities as citizens often feel they have no means of speaking their needs and opinions effectively.

The PHBM program itself needs to be redesigned to truly integrate Benowo villagers in the management process of the forest rather than just active participation in forest maintenance. The program is designed to provide cheap labour to the state as it uses village committees in maintenance processes and provides them with very little cash return from the pine industry which has taken over the area (Maryudi & Krott, 2012). There also needs to be active involvement of village figures in the negotiation process for legal access rights of the forest. Villagers should be able to have a say in how much time and land they need for growing of crops, collection of NTFP's and other means of access to forest resources. Adding temporal time limits to these practices impinges on livelihoods and leads to decreased access to forestland, making Benowo an ongoing rural poverty issue for the state. Only when the state chooses to satisfy the basic needs of the Benowo people will they see a decrease in illegal activity on state forest land (Maryudi & Krott, 2012).


1. Colchester, M. (2002). Challenges to Community Forestry Networking in Indonesia. Center for International Forestry Research. Retrieved from

2. Dahal, G. R., Atkinson, J., & Bampton, J. (2011). Forest, Tenure in Asia: Status and trends. The EU FLEGT facility. Retrieved from

3. Kusumanto, Y., & Sirait, M. T. (2001). Community Participation in Forest Resource Management in Indonesia: Policies, Practices, Constraints and Opportunities. Southeast Asian Regional Research Program. Retrieved from

4. Maryudi, A., & Krott, M. (2012). Local Struggle for accessing State Forest Property in a Montane Forest Village in Java, Indonesia. Canadian Center of Science and Education. Retrieved from

5. Maryudi, A., & Krott, M. (2012). Poverty Alleviation efforts through a Community Forestry Program in Java, Indonesia. Journal of Sustainable Development. Retrieved from

6. Maryudi, A. (2011). The Contesting Aspirations in the Forests- Actors, Interests, and power in Community Forestry in Java, Indonesia. University of Gottingen. Retrieved from

7. Pierce, C. J., & Prodnja Resosudarmo, I. A. (2002). Which Way Forward: People, Forests, and Policy making in Indonesia. Resources for the future, Washington D.C. Retrieved from

8. Warren, C., & McCarthy, J. E. (2009). Community Forestry and Local Governance in Indonesia. Routledge. Retrieved from

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