Seven groups of Kulon Progo Community Forest farmers (KT-HKm) that are gathered in a forum called “Komunitas Peduli Lingkungan Alam Lestari (Lingkar)” (Community of Surrounding Nature Environment) formalized their business partnership with Joint Enterprise Group (KUB) “Tiwi Manunggal” that is based in Hargowilis Village, Kokap Sub District, Kulon Progo District, through the signing of Partnership Agreement on 25 September 2013. The event was made possible with the support from Directorate of Social Forestry Development of the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia, the ASEAN Social Forestry Network (ASFN), and the Watershed Management Agency “Serayu Opak Progo” (BPDAS SOP), as well as the District Agriculture and Forestry Agency of Kulon Progo. Also present in the event were the Vice Regent of Kulon Progo District and the Head of several District line Agencies of Kulon Progo, as well as Representatives of the Provincial Forestry Agency, the Joint Enterprise Group, and Forest Farmers Groups of Community Forest (KT-HKm).
The Joint Enterprise Group (KUB) “Tiwi Manunggal” is running a small-scale business producing palm sugar with production capacity of approximately 36 tons per month, which have been exported to the international markets, to the UK and Germany in particular. The palm sugar produced by KUB Tiwi Manunggal contains ginger as part of its ingredients. In fulfilling the need for ginger as raw material for the palm sugar products, the KUB Tiwi Manunggal has engaged its business with the Kulon Progo Community Forest farmers groups who have been cultivating ginger as part of their commodities of Community Forest.
On the same day during the evening, the Community Forest farmers groups of Kulon Progo (KT-HKm Kulon Progo) conducted a Focused Group Discussion to improve the management of eco-tourism located in the HKm area. The Discussion was facilitated by Dr. Herry Santoso of Java Learning Centre (JAVLEC), one of the NGOs based in Yogyakarta with focus on community empowerment.
This Focused Group Discussion was organized with facilitation of the Directorate of Social Forestry Development and with support from ASFN. Also participating in the Discussion were the caretakers (Representatives) of the seven Community Forest farmers groups, facilitators of the forest farmers groups, Head of the District Tourism Agency of Kulon Progo, as well as Representatives of the Directorate of Social Forestry Development and ASFN Secretariat.
The establishment of Kulon Progo Community Forest farmers groups (KT-HKm) was resulted from long journey since the rapidly increasing intensity of state forest encroachment in Kulon Progo in the beginning of reformation movements during the years of 1997-2000. A great deal of illegal logging activities by irresponsible people occured, taking advantage of political uncertainty during that time. Such massive illegal logging in state forest areas had left little number of forest timber trees. At that time, the state forest areas in Kulon Progo could not show their characteristics as forest areas, due to the barren lands in most parts of the forest areas, with only some small coverage of timber trees, as well as tubers and other shrubs.
The unfavorable condition had triggered anxiety of some local community surrounding the forest areas who pays great attention to the stance of their forest. Their anxiety then had raised the attention of one NGO namely the Damar Foundation (Yayasan Damar, or YD), to begin encourage the local community to actively protect and rehabilitate their forest condition. At the end of 1999, by approaching the community caring for the forest, YD started identifying the roots of causes that have resulted in the illegal logging. The presence of YD initially was perceived with suspicion by local community. Eventually, after there was adequate understandingt of the Goals and Objectives of the YD, the local community then gradually welcomed the existence of YD. During midst of 2000, intensive facilitation was conducted by YD for seven (7) forest farmers groups with members coming from three (3) different Villages and two (2) Sub Districts.
Having gone through considerably intensive facilitation processes by participating in local community meetings, trainings, discussions, exchange studies, as well as other participatory activities, the local community had made quite significant accomplishments, among others:
- Regain of local community collective awareness towards the sustainability of the forests;
- Raise of local community awareness upon their rights and responsibilities as a citizen towards the management of state forest;
- Preserved norms and local wisdom of community surrounding forests.
In parallel with the developments, with facilitation by YD, the local community began to exert their rehabilitation efforts through activities planning with the objectives of revitalizing the favorable condition of the forest. The activities planning were focusing on three (3) aspects, namely the institutionalization of forest farmers groups, the revitalization of forest conditions, and the development of forest products enterprise opportunities for forest farmers groups.
In developing forest products enterprise opportunities for the forest farmers groups, some of the activities implemented have been:
- Establishing forest farmers Cooperatives Enterprise Agency;
- Planting of productive plants (inter-cropping and medicinal plants);
- Planting of green livestock fodders (HMT) at the terrace areas of the forests;
- Reactivating livestock enterprise and home-industry activities.
In line with the government policy on providing access to forest farmers groups towards forest areas through Community Forest scheme (HKm) in year 2000, seven (7) forest farmers groups officially submitted their request for Community Forest utilization permit, to the government. After going through quite long process, finally on the 15th of February 2003, the Government of Kulon Progo District issued Decree on the provision of temporary permit for Community Forest utilization, for the the seven (7) forest farmers groups, which was valid for five (5) years.
Within this period of temporary permit provided, the seven (7) forest farmers groups with facilitation of the YD had proven their serious commitment in protecting and rehabilitating forest condition. During this period there have been a great deal of positive results, namely:
- Establishment of Cooperatives Legal Agency in each forest farmers group (2006);
- Good conduct of forest rehabilitation, based on tree planting pattern planned by each forest farmers group with facilitation of the Watershed Management Agency of “Serayu Opak Progo” and the Agencies in-charge of forestry at the District and Provincial levels;
- Marking with numbers on trees existing in the forests as part of control tools;
- Reduction of illegal logging in the forests, moreover it could be stated at that time that the occurence of illegal poaching was almost none;
- Good conduct of forest farmers groups institutionalization, demonstrated among others routine group members meetings (once in a month).
In year 2007, the issuance of Minister of Forestry Regulation P. 37/Menhut-II/2007 dated 7 September 2007 on Community Forest was followed with the issuance of Keputusan Minister of Forestry No. SK.437/Menhut-II/2007 dated 11 Desember 2007 on Working Area designation for Community Forest Kulon Progo. As result from evaluation process on accomplishments made during the provision of temporary permit (valid for 5 years), finally in 2008 the Regent of Kulon Progo District issued the Community Forest Management Utilization Permit (IUP-HKm) for the seven (7) forest farmers groups that is valid for period of 35 years. The said permit provided covers the areas of production forest and protected forest of 167.20 Ha in total.
Brighter Hope with Community Forest Management Utilization Permit (IUPHKm)
After the issuance of Community Forest Management Utilization Permit (IUP-HKm), various endeavors in rehabilitating forest condition, strengthening forest farmers groups, as well as business enterprise developments had continued with facilitation of the facilitators who were formerly with the YD and later on were dettached from the YD but remain highly committed to continue facilitating the Community Forest farmers groups. Besides that, the support from Communication and Consultation Forum for Community Forest that was already established by the Government of Kulon Progo District since the period of temporary permit provision (FKK-HKm) had also contributed effectively in further encouraging the developments of Community Forest farmers groups (KT-HKm).
The Government Agencies of the District and Provincial levels, as well as the Watershed Management Agency “Serayu Opak Progo” had also continued rendering various forms of support, namely among others:
- Provision of inter-cropping plant seedlings, such as fruit crops and other estate crops
- Provision of under-storey plant seedlings, such as variety of medicinal plants
- Provision of capital support Enterprise Cooperatives
- Social support, such as provision of cattle breeders.
It was with high commitment and guidance from facilitators and local government that the forest condition had gradually improved. Several new springs emerged, with water resources of these were then channeled to the houses of surrounding areas by using PVC pipes, although such distribution has yet to be regulated by Community Forest farmers groups. In developing community economy, members of the Community Forest farmers groups had carried-out some enterprise developments, among others:
- Cultivation of red ants (harvested the eggs for pet bird fodder);
- Palm Sugar cultivation & Palm Sugar production;
- Tubers processing;
- Livestock Enterprise development;
- Taro plants development;
- Medicinal plants development.
Specifically for the Community Forest working area located in the protected forest, the Community Forest farmers groups gathered in “Komunitas Lingkar” with the support of various parties have developed environmental services utilization in the form of Ecotourism in Desa“Kalibiru” in the Kokap Sub District, Kulon Progo District. In developing supporting facilities for this Ecotourism, the Government of Kulon Progo District in year 2009 had provided funding support of IDR 445 million that was directly received and managed by the Community Forest farmers groups (KT-HKm). In year 2012, as response to the proposal submitted by the facilitators, the Tourism National Program for Community Empowerment (PNPM Pariwisata) of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy provided funding support of IDR 70 million to develop the Ecotourism facilities. This Kulon Progo Community Forest Ecotourism in Kalibiru had since developed into alternative tourists site for University students and community living in the surroundings of Yogyakarta Special Province, and even for tourists coming from outside of the Province. In this location, some modest facilities have been made available, such as simple lodging/accommodation, gazebo for enjoying the beautiful scenery from the top of the hills, simple culinary spots, as well as flying fox and meeting places.
Since end of year 2012, unfortunately some conflict had inevitably emerged amongst the members of the Community Forest farmers groups, disputing on the management of this Ecotourism, partly because one of the Chieves of the farmers groups had dominated the management of the Ecotourism with minimum participatory process, or with lack of participation of other farmers groups members, in contrary with what had been agreed in the beginning. This condition had hampered communication amongst members of the Community Forest farmers groups (KT-HKm) hindering the coordination in managing the Ecotourism from running smoothly. The Focused Group Discussion on 25 September 2013 was carried-out for breaking the ice in the communication amongst members of KT-HKm in relation with the management of the Ecotourism.
Besides the said objective, the Discussion also covered the points regarding the next steps in order to improve the management mechanism of the Ecotourism. Members of the Community Forest farmers groups (KT-HKm) participating in the Discussion facilitated by Dr. Herry Santoso of JAVLEC, had agreed to develop the rules of procedures for management mechanism of the Ecotourism in order to preserve and develop further their Ecotourism asset.
In developing community economy through cultivation of ginger, with the signing of Partnership Agreement between the Representatives of the seven (7) Community Forest farmers groups of Kulon Progo, and the Joint Enterprise Group (KUB) Tiwi Manunggal as highlighted at the beginning of this article, it is hoped that the livelihoods and community economy of Community Forest farmers groups (KT-HKm) of Kulon Progo can be improved. There is opportunity for the KT-HKm Kulon Progo to also produce palm sugar for export market. In the meantime, the production of palm sugar from the KT-HKm Kulon Progo is still at the stage of providing raw materials for the KUB Tiwi Manunggal, and more efforts are still needed to produce palm sugar at the quality required for export market, such as the cleanness and water content level.
The Vision of Forestry Development of Indonesia: “Sustainable Forest for the Welfare of the Just Society” needs to continue be materialized in the ground through various programmes and activities that will generate direct economic benefits for the local community, particularly the local community living within and surrounding the forests, whose livelihoods greatly depend on the forests. What had been achieved and exerted in Kulon Progo as shared above, could be part of concrete actions for generating real impact on the ground, towards “Sustainable Forest, and Properous, Just Society”.