Stronger collaboration for co-investment in ecosystem services

Management of watersheds needs coordinated efforts by local government, farmers and businesses. In Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, a working group has been established to ensure that ecosystem services are maintained for all.


Watershed management is a complex process that needs the involvement of many different groups of people, thus, collaboration with government bodies from different sectors to manage a watershed is essential. To help maintain the health of watersheds in Buol District, Central Sulawesi Province in Indonesia, a working group has been established to oversee ‘co-investment’ schemes that will be implemented through a collaboration between the World Agroforestry Centre, Buol district government and villages.

The group was formally established through a decree of the head of the district in July 2015. With the formal endorsement of the district government, the members of the group from government agencies will now be able to allocate budget for collaborating with an action-research project called Climate-smart, Tree-based, Co-investment in Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-invest), demonstrating an immediate co-investment in ecosystem services and climate-smart agriculture. The project is investigating ways of using the co-investment concept in Indonesia, Philippines and Viet Nam. It is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Working-group members in action. Mr Rahadian is third from right in a striped shirt. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Sacha Amaruzaman

Working-group members in action. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Sacha Amaruzaman

The Smart Tree-Invest team will help strengthen the working group by linking its activities to the provincial government, such as the provincial watershed management and forestry agencies, as part of expanding co-investment initiatives in Buol to higher levels. To speed the process, the project invited a long-time collaborator, Mr Nana Rahadian, who is a watershed institutional expert from local NGO, Rekonvasi Bhumi, to help with facilitation of the working group. In a series of workshops from April to June 2015, Mr Rahadian and the Smart Tree-Invest team helped the working-group members design the organizational structure, goals, working areas, coordination mechanism, and a work plan.

Structure of the working group. Source: World Agroforestry Centre

Structure of the working group. Source: World Agroforestry Centre

The group has three main sections: conservation, local economic development, and policy advocacy and institutions. Its working area is six main watersheds in the district, of which two are also Smart Tree-Invest research sites. Led by the district development planning office (Bappeda), the group consists of representatives from government bodies responsible for watershed management, such as the forestry, agriculture, plantations, environment, extension, sea and fisheries, public works, and energy and mining agencies. The group will not only facilitate co-investment in environmental stewardship but will also be the coordination forum for different sectors dealing with watersheds. The overarching goal of the group is to improve integrated watershed management in Buol, which is a requirement of government decree PP 37/2012 on watershed management. For Smart Tree-Invest, the working group will be the primary partner for implementing co-investment schemes tested at the action-research sites.

The concept of ‘co-investment in ecosystem services’ stems from research into schemes that reward people for managing ecosystem services. Such schemes typically see poor farmers and communities compensated with financial and non-financial rewards for managing, and improving, the services provided by ecosystem services under their care. Rather than simply being a market-based instrument, ‘co-investment’ has more flexible contractual conditions that are based on collaboration and mutual trust between the people involved.

Buol District showing watersheds. Source: World Agroforestry Centre

Buol District showing watersheds. Source: World Agroforestry Centre

Buol and Matinan watersheds are the two priority watersheds for the project. These watersheds, covering upstream to coastal areas of Buol District, provide important ecosystem services yet are threatened by land-use conversion and deforestation, mainly to monocultures, and unsustainable agricultural management.

Based on the research carried out in the project’s first year—comprising identification of socio-economic and biophysical conditions, Smart Tree-invest is developing with the working group the co-investment schemes that will encourage climate-smart, tree-based agriculture and improve the livelihoods and resilience of smallholding farmers in the watersheds.

The main scheme being developed is better tree-and-crop management, particularly for cocoa and rice. Another other scheme being investigated is the rehabilitation of degraded mangroves. Most of the direct beneficiaries of ecosystem services in these watersheds are poor and there are no beneficiaries of the services from the private sector. Hence, the project team identified that co-investment by the public sector was more feasible rather than payments from direct users of the ecosystem services.






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This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global partnership for a food-secure future. We would like to thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.'

Sacha Amaruzaman

Sacha Amaruzaman is an ecosystem services specialist with the World Agroforestry Centre Southeast Asia. He co-manages the Climate-Smart, Tree-Based, Adaptation and Mitigation in Asia (Smart Tree-Invest) project that is operating in Indonesia, Viet Nam and the Philippines. He also carries out research under the CGIAR Research Program on Forest, Trees and Agroforestry, mainly focusing on ecosystem services, socioeconomic and institutional aspects.

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