Documentation:Open Case Studies/FRST522/An assessment of K.T.H Mandiri community forestry group in Kalibiru, Kulon Progo, Yogjakarta, Indonesia

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Map of Kulon Progo Regency

The Kalibiru Community Forest/Hutan Komunitas (HKm) is situated within the Hargowilis village, Kulon Progo Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta and on the island of Java. The Kulon Progo Regency forest area spans around 856.5 ha which is 1.5% of the total Regency area. This forest cover area is lower when compared to the Regional level as the Special Region of Yogjakarta has around 4% forest area. The regency forest area is further divided into 254.9 ha of Protected Forest/Hutan Lindung and 601.6 ha of Production Forest/Hutan Produksi[1]. There are many attractions that are promoted about Kulon Progo area, most of them being centered around natural objects and being out in nature. Some nearby attractions include Glagah Indah Beach, Waduk Sermo, Pedut Waterfall, Kalilingseng Cave, Sumur Gondongsari Kroco, Binangun Park and Sendang Clereng Fountain [2]. The land area under the Community Forest License spans 29 ha which is granted and managed under the Kelompok Tani Hutan (K.T.H) Mandiri group [1].

Relevant Stakeholders

K.T.H Mandiri

The K.T.H Mandiri group are the current land managers of the Kalibiru Community Forest. the group was formed mostly following from concerns about access to forest resources and individuals with a heavy reliance on agriculture/farming [3]. Based on a survey conducted in 2018 interviewing 98 people [3], the demographic of the group formed was based on Age, Education Level and Land Ownership. The age of KTH Mandiri members ranges from 17-89, with a majority (62%) of the members above the age of 55 [3]. A majority of members are old since at the time the group was formed, most of the younger generation in the village did not enjoy farming and chose to leave for surrounding cities in search of higher education or job opportunities [3]. Given the majority of older members, many were part of a generation with a heavy reliance on agriculture and farming and who may not have been given the same opportunities to pursue higher education. As such, 13% of the members have no formal education, 41% stopped their education at elementary school, 19% at middle school, 26% at high school and 1% xxx [3]. There seems to be two groups, one which is highly dependent on Community Forest land and private land since they have a high focus on farming and little knowledge outside of this field, while the other is less directly dependent on farming of the area since their income is sourced from tourism or services [3]. Those without private land and without knowledge or skills in tourism are heavily dependent on the Community Forest area as their income is tied heavily on agriculture/farming within the area. The K.T.H Mandiri land use area is divided into two main functions: Agroforestry/Agriculture (73%) and Tourism (27%) [3].

Yayasan Damar

Yayasan Damar is a local non-government organization based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, established by many members being activists associated with or from the University of Gadjah Mada (UGM) [1]. Yayasan Damar played an important role in conducting training exercises, baseline surveys and helping the K.T.H Mandiri group secure and manage the Kalibiru Community Forest Operating License/Izin Usaha Pengelolaan Hutan Komunitas (IUPHKm). Originally Yayasan Damar was advocating for a Village Forest/Hutan Desa license since many locals were concerned about access to forest resources. However at the time in the early 2000’s it remained unsuccessful due to concerns from the Forestry Service, given the forest degradation and illegal logging that occurred in the past [1]. Soon after asking for a Community Forest License instead, a temporary license was granted in 2003 which would allow the Forestry Service to test and see the project feasibility [1]. It was during this time that Yayasan Damar helped in providing seeding training as well as non-timber forest product (NTFP) management which resulted in improvement in forest quality of the degraded area [1]. After revision and submission of the required documents and a letter to the governor for a Community Forest license, the official 35 year license was finally granted through the Village Owned Enterprise/Badan Usaha Milik Desa (BUMDES) [1] in 2007 which would remain active until 2042. In order to maintain support and learning opportunities for the K.T.H Mandiri group a Village Communication Forum/ Forum Komunikasi Kelompok Tani Hutan (FKKTH) was established in Hargowilis village [1]. This forum would allow for other stakeholders to interact and participate with others to facilitate horizontal peer-to-peer learning rather than a top-down one-sided approach. An important aspect in Yayasan Damar’s approach in their baseline surveys and training activities is local involvement. For example when conducting poverty mapping for the village, poverty was defined based on local understanding of the meaning [1]. Locals were given the chance to define and classify levels of poverty based on different parameters and their own understanding [1]. This greatly benefited the applicability of their findings as it contextualized the data for the Kalibiru area and provided local insight instead of forcibly fitting with an outsider’s preconceived idea.

K.T.H Mandiri Community Forest

Agriculture and Agroforestry

Agricultural use is the major type of function (73%) for the land use with many KTH Mandiri members owning private land outside of the Community Forest lands ranging from 0-5000m2 [3]. The private land owned outside of the Community Forest often functions as yards, moors, farms or for cultivating timber for personal use [3]. The most common planted tree species in private land are Jati, Mahogany and Acacia [3]. Due to the small shared managed area amounting to 250m2 per member, most of the produce is managed at a small scale, governed by agreed upon rules [3]. If prior to being granted the Community Forest License someone had planted a crop and now after division of land it lies outside their boundary, then the planter may harvest the crop prior to handing it over to the current new land manager [3]. Furthermore if a K.T.H Mandiri member dies, then the land will automatically return to the K.T.H Mandiri group. The group must internally agree on which individual, related to the deceased member, should be approached and negotiated with [3]. Most of the forest benefits stem from food crops (44.9%) that are managed within an agroforestry system with some used as animal fodder and fuel wood [3]. The food crops are cultivated in a alley cropping system where herbs and grasses are planted in between fruit-bearing trees or high-value timber species [3]. Some of the herbs include ginger, turmeric, chili, Alpinia galanga and javanese ginger with the first two being the most frequently planted species [3]. One of the grasses planted is elephant grass which is also used for livestock fodder, other sources of fodder being mahogany leaves and cassava [3]. A single harvest is capable of yielding around 5-10kg [3]. Intitially the K.T.H Mandiri group had to purchase their own seeds, pooling their resources to purchase and plant jackfruit, rambutan, mango, gnetum, durian, banana and other fruit bearing trees [3]. In order to sustain agriculture cultivation, the group also manages their own seedling nursery and compost pile [3]. The area is also planted with valuable timber species such as jati, mahogany, acacia, pine, sono and kayu puith which were in place prior to the forest designation change from Production Forest to Protected Forest [3]. Protected Forests are designated to protect and retain ecosystem functions for the surrounding community, however they do not allow for the harvesting of trees for timber [3]. Unfortunately this change in forest designation represents an instance of government “politicizing” forests with legislative and administrative designations that do not acknowledge local contributions and deny future benefit sharing [4]. The change does not respect or acknowledge local initiatives since the planting of timber species and agroforestry crops would already have started the process towards restoring the forest cover and quality. Furthermore no tree species seeds were initially provided by the State Forestry Service which forced the K.T.H Mandiri group to pool and invest their own money [3]. Now that the valuable timber species planted are fully grown, the K.T.H Mandiri group members are unable to reap the benefits of their own labor, simply because of a change in forest designation.


Photo spot in Kalibiru

Tourism in Kalibiru is one of the largest attractions in the Kulon Progo Regency, drawing in 443,070 visitors in 2016 [5]. Tourism in Kalibiru centers around the utilization of natural resources/structures that offer ideal scenic views for photographic opportunities as well as adventure activities [6]. Tourism is the largest source of income for K.T.H Mandiri group through job creation and infrastructure development related to the industry [3]. Simply by charging visitors entrance fees, ticket sales provide income for K.T.H Mandiri members without being too physical or labor intensive [1]. Infrastructure to support tourism includes the construction of viewing posts for photo opportunities and flying fox for outdoor activities [3]. While additional construction of cottages, accommodations, parking lots, and restaurants continue to expand the tourism area to 1898m2 as of 2017 [3]. Opportunities for job diversification arose with the creation of service industry-related jobs such as parking lot security, photographers, crafts salesperson and transportation service providers, to name a few [3]. This allowed for community to benefit from acquiring and learning new skills related to these new professions. Employment rose from tourism, with around 75% of the local population involved in tourism and 250 upwards to 1500 personnel employed during peak season [6]. Tourism in Kalibiru represents a collaboration between K.T.H Mandiri and local youth with joint management of photographic spots [1]. Although many of the youths involved in the tourism activities feel content with their job roles and level of involvement, some feel that their roles are too labor intensive and operational, lacking in management decisions and input of creative new ideas [5].

Social, Environmental, and Economic Changes

Local Wisdom and Social Change

Jathilan dance in Yogyakarta

Part of the success in restoring and managing the Kalibiru Community forest area lies from support of local and traditional cultural wisdom and practices. Local wisdom is the result of long-term interactions that establish value systems which reflect local customs, laws, beliefs and culture [7]. The local Javanese phrase “hameyamu hayunin bawana” means ‘preserving a beautiful world’, this has been reflected in the communitys' attempts at restoring and preserving their natural surroundings [7]. The idea of helping community members is also linked with the concept of “krubutan” which involves the collaboration of community members towards obtaining a shared goal [7]. This local and cultural shared idea of mutual aid and reciprocity has helped K.T.H Mandiri group to help each other and underprivileged community members through economic and social support [6]. The K.T.H. Mandiri group has supported more social work through the construction of houses for less fortunate community members as well as charitable donations [8]. During the division of arable Community Forest land the javanese concept of “so rumongso” or ‘mutual understanding’ was used to provide equitable division of land [1].

Not all outcomes from tourism are positive, as increased tourism in the Kulon Progo regency has also fostered jealousy from surrounding villages [8]. Some even reported that neighboring competing villages have deliberately provided misleading or incorrect information when asked for directions by prospective tourists [8]. Tourism may provide locals with economic benefits, however local culture, customs and traditions should not be forgotten or degraded to accommodate the industry. The particular focus on developing photo spots has unfortunately taken away from interest in showcasing local dances and culture. In the past traditional Javanese dances such as Jathilan and Angguk were showcased for visitors, however this has stopped [6]. Bahasa Indonesia has also become more frequently used instead of Javanese in order to provide a more inclusive environment for tourists [8].

Environmental Changes and Concerns

Residential area in part of Jakarta
Waste management, a problem in parts of Java

Past forest degradation occurred due to illegal logging of valuable tree species such as jati and mahogany, starting in the 1970 and which peaked between 1997-2000 [1]. No replanting of trees was done during this time, which did not allow for forest regeneration and contributed to long-term forest loss [1]. However after the formation of K.T.H Mandiri, slow replanting and reseeding with tree species and herbs began to improve forest cover [1]. The change in forest designation from Production Forest to Protected Forest has also restricted the logging of any trees within the Community Forest [6]. Forest cover continues to expand as the alley cropping agroforestry system used has low impact on the forest regeneration. Most community members rely on gas stoves, however an increasing number of youths prefer to rely on wood burning stoves which they say results in better tasting food [3]. This could result in greater risk for forest degradation. however most firewood taken from the forest is from broken fallen branches [3], and given that forest recovery is increasing there should be little impact unless demand far exceeds the forest carrying capacity. Increased tourism has also lead to greater volume of waste brought in by tourism which would require greater capacity to manage. Some surrounding attractions in the Kulon Progo Regency have already suffered from insufficient waste management that has degraded the site; larger waste storage capacity or increased garbage pickup frequency is required [9].

Economic Impacts

Overall the management of the community forest has provided greater income and opportunities to K.T.H Mandiri members [10]. K.T.H Mandiri members on average tend to have higher income than non-members [1]. The granting of the license and management of community forest has also provided equitable access to the forest with fewer community members having no access to the forest [1]. K.T.H Mandiri members income sources are as follows: Tourism (46.37%), Non-agriculture (31.77%), Farming (15.01%) and arable Community Forest (6.85%) [3]. Non-agriculture refers to activities which include hunting, selling crafts and wares, as well as transportation services [3]. The low farming and community forest contributions towards income reflect a slow shift from farming based income towards tourism and services. Although this may benefit the elder majority of K.T.H Mandiri group, it also represents a risk and danger in becoming a single industry village which could be subjected to boom-and-bust dynamics. This low reliance on Community Forest agroforestry is due to the members' old age as well as the distance and accessibility from their home resulting in some visiting the area only once a year [3]. As the forest recovers and canopy cover increases, low crop yield and productivity has made these agroforesty areas into non-viable sources of income [3]. Further coupled with aging K.T.H Mandiri members and disinterest from local youths, the Community Forest area may simply be re-purposed to support tourism activities. This means that a majority of future income and revenue will be dependent on tourism activities.

Basic Event Timeline

  • 1970: Illegal logging of jati and valuable timber species begins in the area [1]
  • 1997-2000: The Production Forest continues to be illegally logged and peaks during this time due to increased demand and lack of government regulation and supervision of forest resource [7]
  • 2001: Previous application for Village Forest was rejected and K.T.H Mandiri apply for Community Forest operating license instead. Production forest designation was changed into Protected Forest, which in turns caused locals to shift towards tourism as a source of income [7]
  • 2003: Temporary license to operate inside the Community Forest was granted from the government .Training by Yayasan Damar and Java Learning Center (Javlec) began on seeding and NTFP resource management [1]
  • 2007: Official Community Forest Operating License/Ijin Usaha Pengelolaan Hutan Kemasyarakatan(IUPHKm) granted for 35 years (2007-2042) [1]
  • 2008: Kalibiru tourist attraction mostly managed under K.T.H Mandiri
  • 2014: Appreciation and acknowledgement from the government given to KTH Mandiri [1]
  • 2016: Visitors to the Kalibiru site have peaked and has slowly been decreasing in subsequent years [11]

Sustainability and Future Direction

Kalibiru Flying Fox

With the projected importance of tourism as a future revenue source for the local community, there are a few improvement measures that might be taken to ensure a sustainable source of income. The number of visitors to Kulon Progo has steadily increased, however the number of visitors to Kalibiru have decreased [11]. This suggests that tourism still remains a growing potential revenue source but visitors are choosing to explore different sites instead. therefore traffic needs to be directed towards Kalibiru specifically. One method to overcome this is to strengthen communication and cooperation with the government. Due to conflicting work schedules members of K.T.H Mandiri are often unable to attend and contribute to village/musrendes and district/musrenkab development plans, so sending a K.T.H representative to these meetings could increase promotion or favorable publicity for Kalibiru [6][10]. From the government side, greater resource investment for the Kulon Progo Tourism office needs to be allocated to increase the number of visitors to Kalibiru [6]. There is also a lack of government staff and resources dedicated to helping the community develop, with only two officers available [6]. Increased collaboration, communication and resource allocation can also aid in improving policy knowledge and implementation between the two groups of stakeholders.

Innovation is considered a potential area of improvement for the Kalibiru site as the focus placed on providing photogenic spots can potentially pigeonhole development and stifle creativity. Although the photography spots are co-managed between K.T.H Mandiri and youths, greater participation and input in management level decisions are needed. Given the aging majority of K.T.H members, this increased value towards youth input could help in both retaining and sustaining tourism for the next generation as well as generate new ideas to engage and entice new visitors to the site [5]. Some K.T.H Mandiri members have mentioned that they wish for their children to be able to benefit from tourism in Kalibiru. this could be achieved through better education of youths in tourism related degrees [5]. Inevitably it will be the younger generation that needs to be convinced to stay and continue to innovate. Hopefully the prevailing local wisdom and ‘spirit of togetherness’ will continue to inspire and keep the community working together in managing Kalibiru for generations to come.


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Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
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