weblogUpdates.ping Taneak Jang, Rejang Land, Tanah Rejang http://rejang-lebong.blogspot.com Taneak Jang, Rejang land, Tanah Rejang: Case Study: Indonesia (TNKS)

Case Study: Indonesia (TNKS)


Sukianto Lusli
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

Stretching nearly 350 km along Sumatra's Barisan Range between Padang and Bengkulu, Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP) embraces 1.4 million hectares of tropical rainforest. It is the largest national park in Sumatra and is significant to conservation on a national and international scale. Habitats vary from lowland dipterocarp rainforest, which is particularly rich in species, to the montane forests and alpine formations of volcanic Mt. Kerinci, at 3805 m the highest mountain in Indonesia outside Irian Jaya.

Much of Kerinci Seblat National Park consists of steeply sloping land - nearly 86% of the area is classified as "mountain systems" - and many high peaks, including several over 2500 m. The mountain range is itself divided by a long rift valley, the Kerinci Valley. Two other significant valleys are found in the northeastern and southwestern sections of the park. Some lowland hill and plain systems are included to both the west and the east of the mountainous country.

More than 20 wetlands, including blocked valley lakes, peat swamp dwarf woodlands, and volcanic lakes occur, in the park, some providing important habitat to rare or endemic species. Danau Gunung Tujuh at 1950 m is the highest caldera lake in Southeast Asia. Many hot springs reflect continuing volcanic activity in the area.

Kerinci Seblat National Park links the lowlands to the mountaintops in a continuous reserve, giving the park great ecological value. The upper catchments of Sumatra's longest river (Sungai Batanghari) and largest river (Sungai Musi) are protected here, and many smaller streams flow from the park. More than three million people and some four million hectares of agricultural land are dependent upon sustainable water supply from these rivers.

In a steep watershed prone to erosion, the regulation of water flow is a critical function of the forest. Local people are well aware of the relationship between tree clearing and the drastic floods, landslides, and soil loss that often follow. They are also quick to point out that droughts and dry sawahs seem to result from forest clearing.

Kerinci Seblat supports a rich diversity of life. It is thought that more than 4000 plant species grow here, including plants with commercial, sustenance, and medicinal value; 300 species of orchids; numerous palms and bamboos; wild fruit trees; and wild cinnamon. Life forms are also diverse: numerous tiny mosses and liverworts, towering dipterocarps, massive spreading fig trees with their curtains of aerial roots, epiphytic ferns and delicate orchids crowding on tree branches, and rare mountain eidlewiess. The world's largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldi, and tallest flower, Amorphophallus sp, are both found in the park.

Of the 199 species of mammals recorded in Sumatra, 73% (144) occur in Kerinci, including a number of endemic species (those which do not live anywhere else) such as the Sumatran hare and two mountain-dwelling Kerinci rats. One hundred eighty bird species have been listed, including 15 endemics. The park provides important habitat for birds that require large areas of primary rainforest, such as the rhinoceros hornbill.

The greatest diversity of plants and animals is found in the lowland rainforests, the most threatened of the ecosystems represented in the park. These areas are home to some of the most endangered species, including the Sumatra rhino, tiger, elephant, and tapir. Only 6% of the park lies below 300 m and a total of 20% below 600 m; unfortunately, some of the unique lowland forest formations are not yet included in the reserve. Their survival will depend on how the production forest is managed. Less than 3% of Sumatra's lowland forests remains intact, a fact that emphasizes the importance of lowland forests in Kerinci Seblat.

The human communities living around the park have a diverse and rich cultural life. Ethnic groups include the Kerincinese, Minagkabau, Rejang, and Ipuh, with Javanese immigrants located in Bengkulu province and around the tea plantations of the Mt. Kerinci area. Many communities are close-knit and retain strong traditional (adat) beliefs and practices, with a wide variety of dances, songs, martial arts, costumes, and oral history. Some have traditional conservation codes that are still in operation. Many of the communities have a matrilineal structure.


Kerinci Seblat National Park was proposed in 1982, a complex of 17 gazetted and proposed reserves with protected forest and forest lands. It included 300,000 hectares of lowland forest. Since that time, several revisions of the boundary have resulted in the excision of much of the lowland forest and a number of settlement and farming areas. The legal gazettal of the park cannot proceed until boundaries are finalized.

A park office has been located in Sungai Penuh since 1984, but until mid-1993 its administration was divided between the Provincial Forestry offices of four provinces. Resources for park management were quite inadequate until the early 1990s. In August 1993, the status of Kerinci Seblat increased with the advent of a "Technical Implementation Unit." A Park Director based in Sungai Penuh was then appointed and was responsible for the management of the entire park, making more integrated and efficient management possible. Annual budgets have become much more substantial since that time, although the management capability is not yet adequate to tackle the great challenges facing the area.

Kerinci Seblat lies in four provinces (West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Bengkulu, and Jambi), nine kabupaten (districts), and 36 kecamatan (subdistricts). Some 486 desas (village units) border directly onto the park. Within the park, a large enclave of 280,000 people live and farm in the Kerinci rift valley. Like many parks in the developing world, intense pressures on the park's conservation status are occurring.

Forest Clearing and Encroachment

The clearing of primary forest within the national park continues to be a serious problem. The creation of cinnamon (cassiavera) gardens and plantations in the Kerinci and Sarolangun Bangko district has been one of the major forms of encroachment. Often wealthy people - some from distant towns - finance and direct the land clearing. Share-farmers, often poor and landless, attend to the fields of absentee landlords. Cinnamon gardens represent a significant amount of standing wealth, especially since the current price of cinnamon is high.

Several small settlements still exist within the national park, and considerable debate has occurred regarding their impact and future. While these communities are often close-knit and may be able to successfully regulate their own behavior, the threat that outsiders will develop more exploitative land practices still exists. Therefore, the management of these enclaves or inclusions poses many challenges.

After the boundary has been rationalized, it is estimated that approximately 15,000 households will continue to farm land within the national park.

Illegal Tree-felling, Forest Product Collection, and Animal Hunting

Profits can be made through the illegal commercial harvesting of plants and animals from the forest. These activities are often motivated by outside traders who may offer tempting incentives to local people willing to work for them. Illegal activities range from logging operations by well-organized groups to the gathering of scarce and valuable non-timber forest products such as the prized gaharu (incense wood) and manau rattan.

Poaching networks still operate in parts of the park, with people trapping the endangered Sumatran rhino and tiger.

Road Development

The development of new and proposed roads across and into the park has been identified as one of the most serious threats to park integrity. The park is already dissected by roads such the Trans-Sumatran Highway. Both the government and many local communities place a high priority on better transport facilities.

However, roads open areas to illegal settlement, encroachment, and commercial harvesting of forest products and expose animals to road kills. Road construction in hilly areas also causes massive local destruction, erosion, and siltation of local waterways. Especially if they are followed by fringing settlements and activities, roads can reduce wide areas of habitat - across which animals can roam freely - to smaller pockets. This fragmentation of habitat will threaten the sustainability and viability of some species.

Degradation and Poor Land Management in the Catchment and Park Surroundings

An estimated 20,000 hectares of abandoned, degraded land borders the park, primarily in the Kerinci enclave. Land on these steep slopes has been cleared for farming but has been abandoned to weeds, fires, and increased wild pig populations. The current degraded status of the wetlands causes erosion and siltation of the park's waterways. If used productively, they could reduce pressures on the forested areas. Government programs attempting to regreen these hillsides have met with limited success.

Limitation of Management Capacity and Plans and Lack of Clear Park Boundaries

Inadequacies in the number of personnel and their capabilities exist in the implementation unit of KSNP. Law enforcement is inadequate, with the 56 park guards unable to adequately patrol the nearly 3000 km of park boundary. As a result, there is little disincentive for some individuals to commit illegal acts, especially where high short-term commercial gains are possible. Park facilities and infrastructure also need considerable improvement, especially in the area of visitor management.

No adequate and operational management plans exist that can be used as a reference in the short, medium, and long term. A zoning scheme that can accommodate the interests, roles, and functions of the national park as an asset for regional development has not been adopted.

Although most of the park boundary has now been marked in the field, areas where the boundary is either unclear or disputed still exist. Clear and acceptable park boundaries are critical if local people are to respect the park's integrity.


In localized areas, traditional gold mining practices are continuing within the park, causing only small-scale park area disturbance. However, the influx of people has lead to the loss of more forest. In addition, the processing of the gold results in mercury being released into the waterways, with possibly serious consequences for people and animals from the effects of heavy metal poisoning. The future impact of the eight mining concessions for gold and coal around the park has not yet been determined.

Lack of Community Awareness and Involvement

Increased awareness and appreciation of the national park is needed, both at local community level and among the general public and decision-makers at district, provincial, and national level. Close cooperation between park staff and local people is also needed to resolve issues such as that posed by wild animals (including tigers and elephants), entering farmland and threatening crops, livestock, and people.


The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) faces a difficult challenge in assisting with the conservation of Kerinci Seblat National Park. The problems are many, and each is complex and deep-rooted. There are no simple answers or easy formulae to reach the goals of sustainable development or to ensure that conservation values are protected while an increasing population improves its material lifestyle.

Over the past 20 years, the international conservation community has increasingly recognized that a "top-down" process of gazetting protected areas and guarding them with strong law enforcement will not succeed in conserving biodiversity or the ecological functions of natural areas. Although these processes are important for conservation, national parks are part of a wider landscape and need the support of the surrounding communities.

For local people - especially poor people - who are hungry for land and improved lifestyles, seeing large land areas locked away as national parks without adequate community consultation or explanation is often a senseless waste. There is little incentive for them to respect the integrity of the protected area. In fact, previous attitudes and practices that conserved their own common resources may be replaced with the desire to exploit the area quickly before outsiders do.

Returning some responsibility for conservation land management to local communities has proven to be an effective strategy in many parts of the world. While the benefits of protected areas such as KSNP are international, an unfair proportion of the costs are borne by local communities. Community participation and education and the provision of alternative resources for local communities are now seen to be vital aspects of managing parks.

In Kerinci Seblat, the WWF project has taken an integrated approach, working both from top-down in strengthening the park's management capability and in working with local and provincial government as well as from bottom-up in increasing the awareness, capability, and participation of local communities. The WWF project ID0094 began in June 1990 and has employed up to 34 individuals with multidisciplinary backgrounds. Projects have been funded by WWF International, WWF Switzerland, and Primary Environmental Care.

The WWF team uses a range of approaches to tackle management issues; at the same time, it builds a solid base of support and awareness in the government and community. The different approaches are integrated by working cross-sectoral participatory planning and conflict resolution. Whenever possible, the local people are consulted and involved in the program.

The interdisciplinary project team is based in Sungai Penuh. Daily work is divided into four project units: data base and participatory planning; national park management; rural natural resources; and promotion and conservation communication.


For more than ten years in Indonesia, the idea of developing national park buffer zones for the benefit of both communities and conservation has received both interest and commitment. The concept of Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDP) has been adopted by the Indonesian government with international donor assistance. Trial ICDPs are now planned for eight national parks in the country.

The ICDP for Kerinci Seblat National Park has two main objectives: 1) to stabilize the park boundary and protect biodiversity within the park, and; 2) to enhance the livelihoods of poor households living around KSNP by providing them with alternative incomes.


The integrity of the park is threatened by the existence of very large populations. The Kerinci Regency, the center of WWF's activities, is the largest enclave in the world with a population of almost 300,000 people. People-park conflict and encroachment is the single most important issue.

The people of the Kerinci enclave, situated in a valley, are mostly farmers. They grow rice in the sawah and have converted forest lands to grow cinnamon and other cash (e.g., tobacco, chilies, groundnuts, vegetables) and subsistence crops. Sawah lands are usually pusaka (inherited) lands and are managed by the "take-a-turn" system. Work in the rice fields is usually done by wage laborers from poorer members of the community. Ladang lands are owned as private property once forest lands have been converted.

The government has attempted to rationalize the park's boundaries but these boundaries have not been respected by the local communities. Boundary markers have been destroyed or simply ignored. Two facts have become clear: 1) the present method of setting boundaries and of resettling people has not been successful, and; 2) local communities bordering on the park will have a major impact on whether park objectives can be met. At least 34,000 persons are living or farming inside the National Park land. The land, however, still belongs to the Ministry of Forestry, which is waiting for clear land titles. The farmer who occupied the land is still waiting for the title. These issues must be addressed before the government can rationalize the boundary.


The forest concession located next to some of 350 km KSNP's boundary is commercial forest management, which focuses on timber. This operation only employs a small number of local people; most of them are casual laborers. The logging operation roads are the main threat to the integrity of the park, mainly because it increases access by local people who will then clear the forest for agricultural farming. Exploitation of forest resources by local inhabitants ranges from extensive, low-intensity hunting and forest product collecting to highly intensive cultivation or silviculture of modified stands, and, in some cases, poaching on Sumatran tigers and rhinos.

The more intensive management systems are associated with higher human population densities (several hundred per square kilometer). The more densely settled and intensively managed systems might be viewed as more commercially or market-oriented, such as the cinnamon plantation in Kerinci Enclave. However, this perception is not necessarily true. Forest products such as gaharu and edible bird's nests come from some of the most remote areas.

The building of new roads or even the upgrading of existing tracks have potentially significant implications for both park management and biodiversity conservation. Roads provide access to new settlers and opportunities for expanding existing agricultural activities through enhanced access to new markets. At this time there are seven proposed roads that will transect the park, linking communities that already have road access. They will attract more people, threaten the park's integrity, potentially fragment the park into isolated blocks, disrupt animal movements, and prevent the flow of genetic resources.


The goal of WWF's activities in this park is to develop sustainable management models of people and park interaction based on the active participation of affected communities. This goal is being achieved by integrating conservation and development objectives in a variety of ways. Communities are involved in marking boundaries and stabilizing land use. Government endorsement of community participation in these activities is obtained. Alternative economic incentives compatible with conservation are promoted.

WWF's Role

The WWF's process for the project is summarized below:

* To identify all stakeholders, which includes identifying the communities, the government agencies, and the project (in this case, WWF). It might also include local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), forest concessionaires, and other private interests. WWF facilitates this task.
* To arrive at a common understanding of resource use and abuse, which highlights the importance of having good information available. WWF plays a vital role in compiling, sharing, and disseminating information to communities, government agencies, and other interested parties.
* To identify options and address issues, which includes strengthening and promoting customary rights and recommending land registration to address access and tenure.
* To identify and strengthen appropriate mechanisms for decision making. Through the identification and strengthening of village councils, communities are able to have representation and dialogue with the government on the management of 'use zones' inside the park.
* To ensure adequate representation. Representation includes both formal and informal leaders of the communities. At this stage it does not include disadvantaged groups such as women or youth, an area that needs to be addressed.
* To negotiate a settlement. This task has focused on disputed boundaries and its corollary of encroachment into park land. After a period of intense negotiations with WWF acting as a facilitator, boundaries were redefined with active community involvement. Based on the redefinition of boundaries in selected pilot areas, endorsement from the Conservation Agency of the Department of Forestry (PHPA) was obtained to stop further encroachment and conversion of the park to cinnamon plantations. Instead, "traditional use zones"and land registration policies were created.

Future Actions

The next steps should involve developing a contract between the affected communities and the government in which rights, responsibilities, and penalties would be formulated. Another requirement would be to identify and establish a mechanism to monitor and enforce the contract. In order not to dilute the benefits to communities operating within the traditional use zones and to ensure the park's integrity, the exact nature of the contract's provisions and enforcement must be carefully determined.


Rejang Land Pal

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