The Forest Is Not Just Wood

The timber forest talkshow is a discussion that provides an understanding of the role of forests and their biodiversity. Forests should not be seen only as a wood but also from what is being produced from it. The talk show invited speakers from the Head of Forestry Research and Development Agency Bambang, Deputy II Production Field Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, I Wayan Dipta, Nuri from Rimba Lestari Community, Zamhur from Tohor River Community of Riau Islands and Rudi Syaf from Kampung Bontae, East Kalimantan.

In the talkshow, Bambang, Head of Forestry Research and Development Agency said, "The nowadays government mindset has rapid changes where we once have a bus management pattern, yet now refers to resource management. The change lies on how we used to take the forest for granted, but now we applies the forest-based management and how to manage it well."

"This case has been regulated in Forestry Ministry Regulations, where there are 559 types of non-wood processed products that has been identified are useful to support the lives of people around the forest area. The main items that we manage and promote are forest honey, bamboo, silk thread. For forest plants that have the most potential to be used for energy are nyamrong plants."

"559 types of non-wood products have been used entirely for the community. The five that I mentioned earlier are as superior products and we utilize it together. Currently the incense in the province of Papua is extinct, and now we are developing a tree frankincense to be developed by the community," added Bambang. Meanwhile, Deputy II for Production of Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, I Wayan Dipta also commented on non-timber forest products that have been developed by Ministry of SME. Since 2000 the Ministry of SME has empowered the people around the forest to manage and create it as a product that they must manage themselves.

"One of the assisted products of SMEs and that we have built together is Honey Gaharu. We have exported as well turmeric ginger and it is being demanded by the people abroad. Turmeric is the first product we send to America, where the exported turmeric is an originated around forest area of Garut," said Wayan. He also said that they encourage people around the forest area to cooperate so that later they become tough. Actually, the constraints of the community is not a capital constraint but constrained by how marketing works. And to encourage that the problem does not continue, Wayan said they are granting the product copyright for free.

Production Constrained by Changes in Forest Functions

"Farming communities that produce non-timber forest products are producers and they need security in order to manage their production. But now the number of permits issued by the government to manage the forest, are under the authority of HTI as a concension area. Therefore the HPH makes the people lives around the forest become less productive, "said Rudi, a representative of Ecosystem Alliance (EA).

"Currently, the products produced by the community around the forest area become uneconomical, where the current expansion of palm oil has changed the consumption pattern of society and their mindset. We can see  this from the case of losing Jernang, where we know that the Jernang's rattan could reproduce and live under the tree. The deforestation  due to the changes of land use has resulted in the loss of seedlings nest. This is such a shame,” added Rudi. Based on the data owned by EA from 1990-2000, Indonesia's forest area has been reduced to 50%. In 2000 to 2013, there was a 20% forest shortage, where the total of forest loss was 70% for Sumatra's forest. This has become a challenge for NGO and environmental activists to keep assisting and supporting the communities so that people can maintain the forest area from deforestation.

Meanwhile, Jamil Bantae, a resident of Lampao village, South Sulawesi, complained about the same thing, where forest area in their village has also experienced and infected by the changes of its function. But now the community has gained its right to manage the state-forest in the form of village-forest. As wide as 420 hectares of managed village-forest have produced non-timber products such as honey, rattan, pandanus mats, etc. "We hope there is a quality improvement in the production because our quality is still lacking. The main problem that we currently face is the existence of 'middlemen' who buy our products at very cheap prices," complained Jamil Bantae.

In the same place, Zamhur, a community from High Cliff of Meranti Islands stated, "We conserve the forest by planting sago plant and it helps in preserving the forests. There are fruit plants such as Sour Fruits that we processed into sweets. In Meranti, we do not need equipments from government because we only need a machete and an axe. But now, it is very difficult to grow the seeds of sago due to the drought that affected the sago planting areas. This happens due to government policy which gives permit to private companies in using the water-canal so that the water-flow in our area is reduced and blocked.”

"Our Meranti area is quite unique due to its peatland character. The peat requires a lot of water for its soil which formed from the organic material such as roots and leaves that not easily getting dry and burn,' explained Zamhur.

Peatland swamps are very sensitive, as the land being cleared, the canalized system has also increased and this damages the peatland. While Sago plant is very environmental-friendly in maintaining the peatland swamp ecosystem.

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