Papuan local wisdom works with scientific knowledge to reduce greenhouse gases

Jayawijaya regency in central Papua province, Indonesia, is combing local ecological wisdom with scientific technical support to devise low-emission development through land-use plans


The Baliem Valley in central Papua has no road access and was only ‘discovered’ by the outside world in the 1930s. Consequently, its residents preserve a long tradition of ecological knowledge, which, in recent years has been under pressure from illegal logging for fuelwood that has driven a large increase in deforestation and forest degradation. The Jayawija regency’s Low-Emissions Development Working Group is well on the way to identifying ways to reverse the trend.

Assisted by the European Union through the ‘Participatory monitoring by civil society of low-emissions development planning strategies’ (ParCiMon) project, the working group was formed under a ruling of the head of Jayawijaya regency. It brings together representatives of the regency government’s Satuan Kerja Perangkat Daerah (SKPD/regional working unit), local academics, ‘adat’ or customary leaders, religious heads and youth groups to serve two functions. First, to produce a set of mitigation action plans within land-use plans for low-emissions development; and second, to monitor and evaluate the progress of the planning and implementation.

Jayawijaya Low-Emissions Development Working Group public consultation Wamena

A break-out session during the Low-Emissions Development Working Group public consultation in Wamena. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Yessie Dewi Agustina

At a public consultation in Wamena, the capital of the regency, held on 16 January 2015, the group presented their strategy to reduce emissions, which had been created through making an inventory of sources of emissions from the agriculture and forestry sectors and discussing the results with residents, government agencies, private business and others.

Officially opened by Mr Yohanes Walilo S.Sos, M.Si, regional secretary of Jayawijaya regency, the consultation was attended also by Mr Peter Mahuse, head of the Jayawijaya Regional Development Planning Agency and representatives from Jakarta, Mr Pungky Widyanto of the Directorate of Forestry and Conservation of Water Resources of the National Development Planning Agency and the Ambassador of the European Union to Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and ASEAN His Excellency Olof Skoog.

Reverend Titus Himan,  Jayawijaya Low-Emissions Development Working Group, public consultation

Reverend Titus Himan (far right, rear) leading prayer at the opening of the public consultation. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

Reverend Titus Himan on behalf of the working group said, ‘We support the ParCiMon project in order to gain a better understanding in the community of the benefits of forests and to know more about using our own land. We’ve had some training from ParCiMon but we need more so that we can be smart in maintaining our own trees. We want to count how our own carbon emissions and we would like to be more equipped so that later we can teach this to our children’.

Ambassador Olof Skoog, Wamena, Low-Emissions Development Working Group

Ambassador Skoog listening intently to an explanation of the Group’s concerns. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Yessie Dewi Agustina

‘I will carry the message to Jakarta and to Europe that your good work should receive more support’, said Ambassador Skoog. ‘The work you have done creating the plan is a credit to you and a model for the world’.

Members of the group had previously held discussions throughout the regency, talking with farmers, customary leaders, religious heads and others to garner a comprehensive understanding of the issues facing the area.

Underused land, Wamena

Existing agricultural land in Jayawijaya regency is underutilised. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Robert Finlayson

A major concern was the need to improve production and livelihoods from existing agricultural land. Most of the regency’s cash income from agriculture comes from sale of the famous Wamena coffee but a large proportion of coffee gardens are not maintained optimally or are in a degraded condition. Improved management would benefit production and livelihoods alike. Primary and secondary forests had been reduced in area owing to logging for opening more agricultural land and/or timber extraction to meet commercial and customary demand.

To address these issues, the working group divided the strategies into two groups: 1) avoiding further reduction of carbon stock; and 2) increasing carbon stock.

The first group involves 1) maintaining and restoring primary and secondary ‘protection’ forests; 2) maintaining ‘people’s plantations’ (‘perkebunan masyarakat’) and restoring degraded land; and 3) strengthening protection of the Lorentz National Park.

Low-Emissions Development Working Group notes, Wamena

Break-out group notes from the public consultation. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Yessie Dewi Agustina

The second consists of several strategies grouped under three categories: 1) in areas designated as ‘production conversion’ forests, a) maintaining primary and secondary forests, b) replanting 15% of degraded land with local and exotic tree species to create secondary forests, and c) establishing coffee agroforests on a further 15%; and 2) for land classified as ‘dry agriculture’, a) reforesting degraded areas to increase the total area under secondary forest, b) establishing fruit agroforests on 10% of degraded land, and c) coffee agroforests on a further 10%; and 3) in areas classified as ‘community forest’ (‘hutan rakyat’) planting Casuarina species on degraded land to add to provide sources of fuel wood, which will reduce the pressure of logging in the natural forest of the National Park and increase the total area of secondary forests.

The next step will be to link the strategies, first, to other government plans for the regency to ensure an integrated approach that is not at cross-purposes and, second, to plans for the province in order to create a province-wide approach to reducing emissions.



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ParCiMon is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry








Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist. As well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization.

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