Update from the field: Indonesia July 2021

By: Elizabeth Linda Yuliani, Moira Moeliono, Sandra Cordon

Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 during the first six months of 2021 have continued to limit access to field sites for the Bogor-based members of the COLANDS team. An easing of travel restrictions in March and April 2021 raised hopes that field work, including facilitating multistakeholder platforms, might resume within a few months. Thus, planning meetings, scheduling workshops and travel arrangements were being made when a resurgence of COVID-19 in Indonesia in early June 2021 once again restricted travel and COLANDS field work was again postponed.

During the short period between travel restrictions, COLANDS partner Riak Bumi was able to continue some field work, such facilitating meetings between several villages to discuss a proposal legalizing customary forests, village boundary marking, and other relevant issues. As well, a multistakeholder workshop on waste treatment was held to follow up on a strategic planning meeting on the issue, where concerns with waste along the watershed was identified as an important common concern to be addressed, and one of significant relevance to the landscape.

But most team members, due to the travel restrictions, have focussed on researching, writing and publishing documents expounding on the relevance of Integrated Landscape Approaches (ILAs) in Indonesia. The work is paying off as the relevance of ILAs in Indonesia is beginning to resonate with senior government officials and leaders in the scientific community.

COLANDS Indonesia team members, working with partners, have also been analysing policy and contributing to an information brief that explains ILAs and their relevance to government policies at both central and regional levels. The partners have looked at more than 80 policies and regulations in Indonesia for the brief, which highlights the fact that ILAs apply an inclusive outlook that considers various aspects of human life and encourages efforts to harmonize human life and nature.

It concludes that Indonesia’s legal framework allows for implementation of a landscape approach as a guide for how to manage landscapes. However, too often the most critical measures appear as regulations, which do not have the same force as other, higher-order legislation. Furthermore, regulations that are not explicitly linked to development planning policies or plans that form the basis for determining budgets, have little clout.

The policy document/information brief was led by the Social, Economic, Policy and Climate Change Research and Development Center (P3SEKPI) and Yayasan Riak Bumi, with funding support from IKI-BMUB and political support from the Presidential Staff Office. Study locations were in Kapuas Hulu, a kabupaten* in West Kalimantan. Click here to download.

Kapuas Hulu consists of many watersheds, but the research focused on Seriang and Labian-Leboyan watersheds as case study locations because both rivers empty into the Danau Sentarum wetlands, which have key hydrological functions for the Kapuas River. Landscape management along both rivers has a significant influence on the hydrology of Danau Sentarum and the Kapuas River.

Senior officials in Indonesia, including some within the national Ministry of Environment and Forestry, have expressed interest in adopting ILAs in policy making, particularly with regard to their relevance in watershed management in Indonesia. At the annual meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry (SF), Erna Rosdiana, Director for Preparation of Social Forestry Areas (Directorate General of Social Forestry and Environmental Partnerships), stated that SF is to be implemented based on an ILA.

Social Forestry in Indonesia has evolved from small-scale projects in the 1980s, to a more comprehensive national program in 2015. A recent iteration of the overall strategy refers to the Integrated Landscape Approach (ILA). As explained by Ms. Rosdiana, the ILA concept emphasizes the need to integrate SF with multistakeholder processes and environmental considerations, even though this concept – in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry – still focuses more on technical and economic aspects: expanding permits, expanding funding sources, and developing integrated business models based on local products oriented to the internal markets.

Syaiful Anwar, the former head of P3SEPI, has also noted the “inter-connectedness and inter-dependencies across sectors and across administrative areas” occurring in a single landscape. “A change to one of the landscape components may lead to behavioral changes of stakeholders within the landscape,” he said, during remarks in February 2020 to national stakeholders at the release of the preliminary results from a policy analysis on landscape approaches.

“Therefore, it is timely and strategic to use Landscape Approaches to help address and bridge common interests, for instance in terms of water and management of water catchment.”

*Kabupaten is a second-level administrative division of Indonesia, directly administrated under a province. Both regency and city are at the same level, having their own local government and legislative bodies.

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