CGIAR brings people together to conserve a watershed in Sumatra

The Way Besai watershed, which was experiencing conflict, is now harmonious thanks to an initiative by a CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry team from the World Agroforestry Centre


In 2014, the Community Forestry Farmers’ Group (Forum Komunikasi Kelompok Tani Hutan Kemasyarakatan/FKKT HKm) in Sumberjaya, Lampung Barat district, on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, was facing the next phase of contractual agreement with a hydropower company. The contract was to practise conservation-farming techniques to reduce erosion and hence sedimentation in the company’s hydro-electricity dam. This arrangement had originally been facilitated by a team from the World Agroforestry Centre as part of a study under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the RUPES project.

But now, after several years’ experience the group was facing some challenges. A review earlier in the year had found that there were disagreements between members that were constraining implementation of the agreement with the hydropower company and that the group itself was weakly constituted under the district’s legal framework.

Sumberjaya, River Care, sedimentation reduction

One of the dams built by the local community in Sumberjaya to reduce sedimentation. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

The World Agroforestry Centre team, who had helped set up the original scheme that saw communities rewarded with a microhydropower unit for achieving a 20% reduction in sediment flow into the company’s dam, stepped in to facilitate strengthening of the community group to ensure the survival of the agreement.

The team contacted one of their collaborators from Banten province on the island of Java, the non-governmental organization Rekonvasi Bhumi, which had initiated a successful and extensive scheme in Cidanau, Banten, that had farmers rewarded by a group of downstream organizations for keeping their watershed healthy and ensuring a reliable flow of clean water. Rekonvasi Bhumi had brought together the farmers, several levels of government, other NGOs and the private sector in a ‘multistakeholder forum’ with the mandate of managing rewards’ schemes for providing ecosystem services and other watershed management activity.

Mr Nana Rahadian, head of Rekonvasi Bhumi, who was a recipient of the Indonesian president’s award for environmental conservation, visited Sumberjaya between June 2014 and January 2015 to work with the World Agroforestry Centre team, FKKT HKm, Lampung Barat district government and the hydropower company Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Air/PLTA), which was under the management of Perusahaan Listrik Negara (State Electricity Company/PLN) Lampung sector (Sektor Bandar Lampung/PLN-SBDL). Together, the various parties were able to achieve a lot.

First, the capacity of the FKKT HKm members was improved through training in entrepreneurship, financial management and more specialised conservation agricultural practices.

Concomitantly, to strengthen the legality of the group, the FKKT HKm was transformed into the Way Besai Watershed Working Group (Kelompok Kerja Peduli Daerah Aliran Sungai/KKPDAS Way Besai). The new group is integrated into the Lampung Barat District Watershed Forum (Forum Daerah Aliran Sungai Lampung Barat), which is directly under the supervision of the district head. To ensure a transparency of management and the group’s long-term sustainability, KKPDAS Way Besai will carry out the contract with PLTA and its management committee will be made up not only of members of the community group but also government officers. The establishment of the KKPDAS was formalized through a District Watershed Forum Decree signed on 17 January 2015. The decree formally acknowledges the newly established group as a formal institution under the supervision and responsibility of the Lampung Barat District Government.

Consequently, PLN has extended the contract to conserve the watershed for another two years. The new contract was signed on 19 January 2015, constituting another example of successful research-for-development by FTA, World Agroforestry Centre, RUPES project and local partners.

Sumberjaya, River Care, contract

Signing the contract extension. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

This has all been made possible initially thanks to the Way Besai watershed being one of the ‘learning landscapes’ of FTA. The site has been a benchmark for best-practice ecosystem services’ co-investment schemes in Indonesia and globally. The RUPES project, a partner with FTA, had been researching schemes in Sumberjaya from 2002 to 2012, facilitating ways for communities to improve their livelihoods as well as contributing to the preservation of watershed services.

Some of the major achievements during that period include helping farmers co-manage state forests through the government’s community forestry scheme (Hutan Kemasyarakatan/HKm), carried out by the FKKT HKm; mediating negotiations between farmers, government and business over watershed management by providing ‘hard’ scientific evidence through hydrological modelling and developing scenarios that accommodated all parties’ perspectives; and establishing the payments for watershed services’ scheme with PLTA through a River Care program, the contract of which has just been renewed in a new, stronger arrangement that will provide greater, more sustainable benefits to all, including the global community.


Edited by Robert Finlayson



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This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry'

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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