Conflict over Nipa-Nipa Grand Forest Park set to end
Government agencies, NGOs and farmers’ groups are working together to ensure the preservation of the Nipa-Nipa Grand Forest Park in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, thanks to facilitation by the Canadian-funded Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi project.
The Nipa-Nipa Grand Forest Park in the district of Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi Province in Indonesia covers nearly 8000 hectares and is home to an array of endemic and exotic plants and animals. It also is as a site for research, education, science, culture and nascent eco-tourism.
‘Even though the area has been designated as a forest park since the 1950s, it has long been used for settlements, mainly by migrants from other parts of Indonesia,’ said Mr Yulardhi, head of the Government’s Technical Implementation Unit for the park. ‘Its establishment as a protected forest and conservation area ignored the existence of local communities and their management of it, which has caused a prolonged conflict over land tenure and the management of the natural resources.
To ensure the park’s preservation by addressing the conflict, government agencies, NGOs and farmers’ groups collaborated under the facilitation of the Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi (AgFor) project, which is funded by Global Affairs Canada, and are now in the final stages of reaching agreement. The institutions include the park’s Technical Implementation Unit, Kendari Department of Forestry and Agriculture, agricultural and forestry extension agencies, forest conservation farmers’ groups, Teras and the Coastal and Inland Community Development Institute.
‘This collaboration is critical since the conflict has lasted for years’, said Mr Imran Tumora, head of Teras, during a visit to the area last February. ‘There are many people involved with the Grand Forest Park and everyone needs to be equally responsible for all the losses and gains from this conservation area.’
The Kendari team of the AgFor project, which focuses on building capacity in integrated landscape management to improve farmers’ livelihoods and protect the environment, realized that ‘the prolonged conflict required a solution that involved everyone building communication and planning that could accommodate a variety of interests without losing the original function of the park itself,’ according to Mr Mahrizal, AgFor’s coordinator for Southeast Sulawesi Province.
As a first step to understand the situation better, the AgFor team surveyed government, farmers and others involved with the park in 2012. The results showed a lack of institutional capacity and under-developed conservation and economic functions.
In line with its commitment to increase the involvement of local communities in participatory and good governance of land use and natural resources, AgFor set about building the capacity of everyone involved, which included learning and information sharing, training, study tours, workshops and meetings, both formal and informal.
‘We selected the best-performing four of the 17 forest conservation farmers’ groups in Nipa-Nipa Grand Forest Park to be a model for natural resource management’, said Mr Mahrizal. ‘Subur Makmur, Tumbuh Subur, Pokaduludua and Medudulu groups had strong and active institutional capacity in managing the land and were good examples for developing management policy.’
The AgFor team used livelihoods and conservation strategy to link research and local knowledge to action using participatory and inclusive principles. The final part of the strategy is the agreement between the Technical Implementation Unit and the four forest conservation farmers’ groups. Though it is yet to be formally signed, some parts of the agreement have already been implemented, such as defining the types of trees that can be planted in the park, rules on construction of gardening shelters, the governance areas of the groups and horticultural management. Several more matters are to be completed by the farmers’ groups, such as creating institutional regulations, deciding on plant spacing, and confirming group legality through the local government. The Technical Implementation Unit will support the issuance of a governor’s decree formalising the standard operating procedure for collaboration in Nipa-Nipa.
‘It has been a long process to reach this point of agreement; we have learned a lot from each other,’ said Mr Tumora. ‘Hopefully, we will soon have a signed agreement between the Technical Implementation Unit of Nipa-Nipa Grand Forest Park and the forest conservation farmers’ groups for sustainable land management and other natural resources’.
This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry