Nipa-Nipa reserve saved by multilateral alliance of government, farmers and NGOs
Nearly 18 years after the establishment of the Nipa-Nipa Grand Forest Park conservation area in Southeast Sulawesi Province, Indonesia, new, broadly-supported legislation marks the beginning of its collaborative management and the end of a lengthy democratic process.
After a strenuous consultation, analysis and review process encompassing many individuals and groups, facilitated by ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre and led by partner organisation the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Government of Southeast Sulawesi officially declared its support for a new regulation that outlines the collaborative management of Tahura Nipa-Nipa, one of the island’s most precious reserves.
The legalization, dubbed Governor’s Regulation 18/2016: Guideline for Mutual Agreement and Collaboration in Managing the Nipa-Nipa Grand Forest Park, was directly followed by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Southeast Sulawesi District Forestry Office, the Executive Agency of the Regional Technical Implementation Unit of the Nipa-Nipa Forest Park (the Indonesian acronym is BP UPTD TAHURA Nipa-Nipa) and farmers’ groups, marking a shared commitment to conserve Nipa-Nipa.
Grand Forest Park Nipa-Nipa: a heavily contested area
Established in 1999 as a conservation zone for rare plants and animals, Nipa-Nipa has myriad people interested in it in some way. The site of 7878 ha was originally designated as an area for scientific research, education and culture. However, its proximity to Kendari City drew settlers to the park, who used the land to support their livelihoods. Institutions, students, NGOs and farmers’ organizations, too, have shown an interest in Nipa-Nipa.
‘In order to align these interests without losing track of the ultimate conservation goal, efforts to harmonize collaborative management have been under way since 2001’, said Imran Tumora, program manager of Teras NGO, one of the partner organisations, ‘but we didn’t see much progress’.
When the Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi (AgFor) project became involved in 2014, Tumora said, ‘the situation drastically changed for the better’.
AgFor is managed by ICRAF and partners undertake specific tasks. AgFor is supported Global Affairs Canada and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
Introduction of agroforestry to Nipa-Nipa
In line with its commitment to preserve nature while improving smallholders’ livelihoods with agroforestry systems, AgFor set about holding seminars, workshops and training in environmental services, agriculture and agroforestry. In cooperation with BP UPTD TAHURA Nipa-Nipa and local partners, a mixed tree-garden system was introduced to four forest conservation farmers’ groups. These systems use two types of plants as the main sources of livelihoods, combined with a tree species that regulates soil fertility, water availability and the presence of pollinators. High-quality seedlings of the trees originated from the 112 tree nurseries established by farmers with AgFor’s assistance.
A workshop led by CIFOR identified existing legislation as a major obstacle to improving conditions in the Park. Communities also grossly underestimated the challenges of managing soil and water, plantations, logging and settlements. Another problem was that communication between some of the people involved had all but stopped. Through AgFor, communication was re-established and representatives of each group gathered to draft a collaborative management concept for Nipa-Nipa.
Public consultation and transition into law
On 20 June, this draft regulation was presented at a public consultation that was attended by government agencies, the media, farmers’ groups, NGOs and the private sector. The draft was well received and the drafting committee accepted suggestions that would further harmonize interests. The AgFor project’s senior team leader, James Roshetko, was happy with the success, which he ascribes to ‘the cooperation of over 50 farmers’ groups and communities, and agroforestry training of various groups in Southeast Sulawesi’.
The head of Southeast Sulawesi’s District Forestry Office, Rusbandriyo (many Indonesians have only one name), was overjoyed with this breakthrough and extended thanks to ICRAF, CIFOR and the entire AgFor project team, stating that he was ‘committed to keeping Nipa-Nipa green and improving its condition’.
This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
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