The Roles of CSO in Strengthening Social Forestry

The Roles of CSO in Strengthening Social Forestry

Indonesia - 12 November, 2015

Many issues related to social forestry are hot topics nowadays in Indonesia due to the announcement of the administration of President Joko Widodo to distribute 12.7 million of land to indigenous people and to re-distribute 9 million hectares of agriculture land (Land Allocated for Agrarian Reform/TORA). 4.1 million hectares to be distributed will derive from state forest areas. Criticism and many questions have arisen since the announcement, giving the opportunity to various parties to share their enthusiasm and contribute with their critical thinking to address the issues at stake.

Such enthusiasm, especially from Community Service Organization (CSO), was seen at the national workshop conducted by Tropenbos International Indonesia in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Directorate General of Social Forestry and Environment Partnership (Ditjen PSKL) - Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) - in Bogor, 22-23 October 2015. The two-day workshop, which had as theme “Identifying problems and formulating strategies on Social Forestry programmes in Indonesia and its implications for the roles of CSO”, gathered 73 participants on the first day and 49 participants on the second day of the workshop. Most of them coming from CSOs while others were from government agencies, research institutions, private sectors and donor agencies.

The director of Social Forestry Preparation, Ditjen PSKL, KLHK, Ir. Wiratno Inung, MSc, attended the workshop and gave the opening presentation “Achievement Strategy on Performance Target of Preparation of Social Forestry Area”. Dr. Eri Indrawan, a representative of the Directorate General of Forestry Enterprise Development, Ditjen PSKL, KLHK, also gave an opening speech.

GD_kel 1_22_10_15.jpgPreparing a Social Forestry Area is certainly not an easy task, when considering the complex problems regarding land tenure and the limited capacity of the government to prepare ‘clean and clear’ state forest areas and facilitate conflict resolution at the grassroot level. Support from all related stakeholders including from CSO is key. According to Hery Santoso, one of the facilitators of the workshop, most CSO focus on facilitating the community to get the license permit for land use instead of getting the license permit for small and medium forest enterprises or enterprise development.

The main objective of a CSO should not only be to facilitate license permit for land use but mainly to empower the community as the target beneficiaries of Social Forestry. By empowering the community, they will be able to manage their land and improve their quality of life. The community’s local knowledge about natural resource management is no longer able to detain the onslaught of today’s lifestyle where they often have to face the lure of money in exchange to their abundant wealth of natural resources. In order to prevent manipulation by stronger or more powerful parties or the transfer of lands from powerless to powerful groups, CSO have a very important role in strengthening the capacity and help the community to build innovative forest based livelihoods.

CSO needs to work hand in hand with other parties to be succesful. Funding support for a longer term period from donor agencies; private sector’s commitment to CSR; the government’s back up with strong regulations, policies and adequate resources - in terms of human resources for the implementaion - and the spirit of togetherness (gotong-royong) will guarantee the achievement of Social Forestry programmes in a sustainable way.

During the workshop, CSOs also identified their strengths and weaknesses and in this way became aware of their limitations. For instance, CSOs might have a strong network at national and regional levels so that information flows without bureaucracy or boundaries but they are also susceptible to carry out specific political interests and in most cases they are highly driven by the funding resources. CSOs might also have good databases in the field but they often have limited capacity to manage big funds and to be accountable in auditing process.

During the workshop it was concluded, that the different roles of CSO’s in Social Forestry Programmes should not be over-expected. The roles of CSO’s should be more strategic than practical. It should be the think-tank, the lobbyist, the advocator, and the facilitator between central and regional government. CSOs are very important and a key piece of the whole procces, as they can be very influential, more like a ‘pressure group’ that will tirelessly ‘fight’ for the issuance of Presidential Decrees on certain policies, or in developing or promoting best practices and technical asisstances in Social Forestry.

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