Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

Wil De Jong, Forest Products and Local Forest Management in West Kalimantan, Indonesia: Implications for Conservation and Development

Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

Wil De Jong, Forest Products and Local Forest Management in West Kalimantan, Indonesia: Implications for Conservation and Development

Article excerpt

Wil de Jong, Forest Products and Local Forest Management in West Kalimantan, Indonesia: Implications for Conservation and Development. Leiden: Tropenbos--Kalimantan Series 6, 2002, ISBN 90-5113-056-2, 120 pp.

In this sixth volume of the Tropenbos Kalimantan Series, de Jong addresses two assumptions that are often central in debates on forest management and conservation. The first concerns the importance of natural resources among rural dwellers, and the impact that logging and expansion of agriculture may have on people dependent on these resources. The second concerns providing stewardship of natural resources to people dependent on them, as a strategy for preventing the decline of these resources. Both assumptions have tended to become "doctrine"--at least in certain circles--often without being backed by a sufficient body of evidence. De Jong also addresses the related role of forest products (often referred to as "non-timber forest products") in boosting local livelihoods and promoting conservation of forests from which these products are harvested.

After providing background information in an introduction and a chapter on forest management and swidden agriculture, de Jong addresses these issues in six chapters based on his extensive fieldwork in West Kalimantan.

Chapter One focuses on the conservation through commercialization proposition, which is an assumption often held in conservation circles. In a nutshell, this proposition assumes that by handing over forest stewardship to local communities, they will be able to derive (sustainable) livelihoods from the forest, usually in the form of forest products (FPs) other than timber. This proposition has been hotly debated by various authors, and de Jong adds to this foray with his experiences from West Kalimantan. FPs are not uniformly important in rural communities, but are usually disproportionately more important to those in the lowest income group, although the richer segment may actually consume more of these FPs. Important to the conservation through FP development debate is the control and ownership of resources, and it is easy to understand that powerful entrepreneurs tend to control more attractive forest resources. These entrepreneurs focus on timber, but also on other FPs for which important markets develop, and from which they accrue the largest portion of the profit. The FPs that are left to the control of the poor are those that are economically much less attractive.

Information suggests that there may be an evolution in FP-derived incomes, whereby forest use will eventually just concentrate on higher value outputs (i.e. FPs from which higher incomes are derived), to the detriment of other FPs. A boom in marketable FPs may lead to decline in resource availability, and alteration of the forests from which these are derived. There is little evidence from Kalimantan, however, that local species will be planted in mono-specific stands as predicted by some, although there will be (sometimes intensive) forest management. The biodiversity value, however, appears to be directly and inversely related to the amount of clearing that a managed forest receives. Following from de Jong's analysis, it is clear that FP commercialization will have an impact on conservation. However, successful FP producers will most likely start a process of intensification that for a long time will remain in a forest management state rather than an agroforestry or plantation kind of stage. These "indigenous managed forests" often have a structure and composition that compares favorably with those of natural forests. Evolution of traditional forest management systems may be hindered by unfavorable circumstances, like rent-seeking activities by outside parties, inadequate policies, or corruption of government officials. Under such conditions, traditional forest management is likely to be replaced by other kinds of agricultural production.

Chapter Two on Forest Management and Swidden Agriculture: Background and Setting of the Studies provides background information on de Jong's long-term study sites in West Kalimantan: the Dayak villages Ngira, Teriang and Koli, near Sanggau. …

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