The social forestry scheme which is being promoted by the government is expected to be able to improve the welfare of the community around the forest. However, for the residents of Kalibandung Village, Kubu Raya Regency, West Kalimantan, it seems that there is still a long way to go to manage the forest sustainably.
Thousands of palm trees are towering. Lumps of small fruit appear on each branch. Bushes fill every corner of the oil palm plantation. None of the residents dared to harvest the oil palm.
This is an oil palm plantation owned by PT. Bina Lestari Khatulistiwa Sejahtera (PT. BLKS). This plantation is almost 20 years old. Planted since 1997 ago. The location is in the Convertible Production Forest area which is not far from Kalibandung Village, Sungai Raya District, Kubu Raya Regency. The area reaches nearly 1000 hectares. Until now, the company has never reaped the returns from investing in the oil palm plantations it has planted.
"Since planting in 1997, PT. The BLKS only operated for a year at that time. Then it returned to operation in 2004 and had a chance to build a basecamp, ”said Marjono, one of the residents met in the PT BLKS area.
The man who is familiarly called Jon said that at that time the residents had high hopes for the return to operation of PT. BLKS. They thought they could be absorbed by the company to work on oil palm plantations. However, that hope was soon dashed because the company's activities had stopped again until now.
In the abandoned plantation area of PT. BLKS, Jon accompanied by Usman, Head of the Village Forest Management Institute (LPHD) Kalibandung Village and the activist of the Indonesian West Borneo NGO Jari, Firdaus. Jon then pointed his finger at the former location of the nursery. The rows of plants in the area are no longer visible to nurseries, because abandoned seedlings have grown towering like coconut trees.
From the nursery area, Jon invited the group to shift to another location which was also neglected. The condition they saw no longer resembled a garden. Grass and shrubs grow wild to cover the rows of abandoned palms. According to him, PT BLKS used to have an office in a garden area. However, the office was burned down during the land fire in 2015. After that, all employees and laborers left behind the oil palm plantations that were already flourishing.
"There is a desire from some residents to manage 1000 hectares of oil palm land owned by PT BLKS in the village forest management system in Kalibandung. The hope is that it can improve the economy of residents who need a lot of jobs, "he explained.
To make a living, some villagers cut rubber whose selling price was unstable, including Jon. "To support my family's economy, sometimes I have to work outside the village as a casual laborer like in Pontianak, because the rubber product, which sells for a maximum of IDR 8,000 per kilo, is not sufficient," he explained.
Sanhaji, the Head of Kalibandung Village continues to pray and make efforts that they can manage abandoned plantations with a social forestry scheme. Until now, the village government together with JARI have initiated proposals for village forest management rights that have been included in the Indicative Map of Social Forestry Areas (PIAPS) since 2017.
According to Sanhaji, by managing the Village Forest, residents no longer face the problem of limited land for business in the village. Incidentally, of the total population of 2,171 people, most of them are rubber farmers and harvesters. While the rest of the residents work outside the village as laborers, traders and fishermen.
"Village Forest can be a new hope for people in villages who find it difficult to get jobs and start to have a lack of cultivated land. Our hope is that if the Village Forest is properly formed, at least there will be an empowerment program that suits the needs of residents, such as in several Village Forests on the coast of Padang Tikar, "he explained.
Asa to manage the Village Forest has actually started to exist. Moreover, at this time PT. The BLKS themselves no longer have the right to manage the oil palm plantations they left behind since 2015. Head of the Plantation Division of the Kubu Raya Regency Food Security, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Division, Dedi Hidayat, confirmed this.
"After checking that there is a company on behalf of PT. BLKS in Kalibandung Village, however, do not have legal permits for plantation cultivation, ”explained Dedi while showing the permit map behind his office desk.
According to Dedi, land status is the main requirement for relinquishing rights from the government to villagers. "Land must be free and clear, aka not overlapping or disputing," he said.
Meanwhile, Head of Social Forestry Extension and Development, West Kalimantan Provincial Forestry Service, Lassarus Marpaung said that the process of determining Village Forest in Kalibandung is still in process. Officials from the ministry have even gone to the field to carry out identification and verification. "The results will later be put into a map of the results which will complete the requirements for Village Forest submission," he explained.
JARI Indonesia West Borneo Regional Secretary Yudith Evametha, who helps Kalibandung residents manage their village forest management rights application, emphasized that currently the status of 1000 hectares of oil palm plantation land planted by PT. BLKS are free and clear, aka not disputes. This certainty was revealed in a Forum Group Discussion on 4 June in Pontianak.
This forum was also attended by Aciang, a representative of PT. BLKS who used to be the manager of the company. According to Yudith, PT. BLKS obtained permits to manage oil palm plantations in 1996. However, in 2000 the company's license status was revoked.
"Indeed, from what Mr. Aciang said during the meeting, for almost 20 years the company has never harvested the planted oil palm fruit," he said.
With the clarity of the land status, Yudith, Sanhaji and Marjono are optimistic that the HPHD application process can be faster. Currently, the management process is still waiting for the Minister of Environment and Forestry's Regulation regarding Social Forestry Management in Peatlands. The regulation continues to be awaited because the area proposed as Village Forest is partly in the form of peatland.
"We hope this Village Forest Decree will quickly get approval from the ministry," he said.
If the Village Forest Decree has been issued, the residents together with JARI Borneo will be quicker to formulate appropriate empowerment plans, while strengthening the capacity of the community in developing Village Forests to make them prosperous.
President Joko Widodo's government issued a social forestry law in 2016 through PermenLHK No.83/2016. The target allocation for the fulfillment of social forestry set by the government is 12.7 million hectares of forest area. The government itself provides five schemes in social forestry. The community can claim forest rights over the areas identified in the Indicative Access to Social Forest Management Map.
Meanwhile, the Dean of the Faculty of Forestry, Tanjungpura University, Gusti Hardiansyah, said that the community must sacrifice their energy and thoughts to make it happen. Because if later the community has access to managing the village forest, residents must be ready with an empowerment plan and its implementation. According to Gusti, it is important for the community to prepare themselves, so that the management scheme through community and nature empowerment can improve the standard of living of rural communities.
He added that he reminded the main message after residents could access the forest, namely changing people's behavior to care for the environment. This is important, because people living in forest areas must continue to protect the forest ecosystem in order to get optimal benefits.
"From my experience, when I go directly to the field, areas that have a direct positive impact on the development of social forestry are the Kapuas Hulu and Kubu Raya districts such as the Padang Tikar coastal landscape," he said.
In general, Gusti said that the performance achievements of providing access to forest area management in West Kalimantan are still not encouraging. Because from the target realization as of July 10 2018, the provision of access that was realized was only 235,180.91 hectares of the target set by the West Kalimantan government of 1,330,431 hectares. This means that the achievement is only 30 percent of the determined target.
"It takes the seriousness of the local government and related parties to encourage the achievement of these targets to be realized quickly," he explained. (*)
This article was published on Pontianak Post and re-edited to be loaded on Jaring.id