• Home
  • Candido, forestopia and how (not) to title indigenous community lands

Candido, forestopia and how (not) to title indigenous community lands

Posted by


Anne Larson, a CIFOR principal scientist working under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, talks about the pitfalls of titling indigenous land.

  • Home
  • COP22 Special: The role of private actors on the world’s climate stage

COP22 Special: The role of private actors on the world’s climate stage

Watch the COP22 side event: What is essential for transparency under the Paris Agreement?
Posted by


Presentation by FTA researcher Anne Larson at a side event on non-state actors at the COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco.

By Suzanna Dayne, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

The landmark Paris climate change agreement was adopted by 195 nations – all pledging to keep global warming well below 2°C.

But many of the decisions, actions and outcomes on climate change are actually made by non-state actors such as local governments, multinational corporations, civil society organizations, indigenous peoples, smallholders and small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).

Experts with the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry examined the role of non-state actors at a side event at the COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 10 November.

The panelists discussed the challenges and opportunities for these actors, particularly the private sector, to contribute to the achievement of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). They also looked at the importance of independent and transparent monitoring to verify whether commitments are met, and the role of the private sector in meeting them.


Under the Paris Agreement, more “non-state actors” (NSAs) are included in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) initiatives. But using this term for such a wide-ranging group presents challenges since non-state actors are as diverse as their motivations and actions.

Watch the COP22 side event: What is essential for transparency under the Paris Agreement?
Watch the COP22 side event: What is essential for transparency under the Paris Agreement?

“Even the private sector is very heterogeneous, comprising diverse sub-groups with different priorities and capacities, some of which are operating within informal economies,” he added. “So monitoring progress among this diverse group of actors is complicated.”

Pacheco and his colleagues emphasized that there cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to non-state actors and urge the UNFCCC to address this issue.


In 2014, the UNFCCC launched the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) portal, which tracks actions that are helping countries achieve and exceed their national commitments to address climate change.

To date, more than 12,500 commitments have been made by corporations, investors, CSOs, cities and regions.

During the COP21 in Paris, this platform evolved into a more formal arrangement through the Global Climate Action Agenda, which has played a key role at COP22 in Marrakesh.

CIFOR scientists have found that although many international corporations have made voluntary commitments to reduce their negative environmental and social impacts in the agriculture and forestry sectors, there is still no systematic way to track and verify these pledges, or their impacts on climate change.

“These companies have self-reporting systems, but there remains issues of credibility, transparency and independence,” said Pacheco.

“It is important to have independent monitoring. There also needs to be awareness of the potential and limits of pledges by NSAs, because often, they don’t have specific targets and timeframes.”

While it is important to have these diverse initiatives, Pacheco believes that a common definition of metrics and indicators is necessary.

“When it comes to monitoring, it is good to have diversity, but we need to discuss what needs to be monitored and how to do it transparently,” he said. “Not only at the global level, but also at the local level in ways that make sense for all the different stakeholders.”


CIFOR scientists identified a major risk for smallholders and other local people who are marginalized and operate within informal economies. They argue that these actors face the risk of being excluded due to corporate attempts to build ‘deforestation-free’ supply chains. This not only impacts rural communities, but the environment as well.

To remedy this, better UNFCCC safeguards are required. “In spite of their risks, corporate commitments also have the potential to support smallholders and leverage resources to help them to uptake more sustainable practices,” said Pacheco.

One way to do this would be through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), according to Pacheco. 194 governments in 2010 established the fund to help developing countries formulate programs and policies that would help them mitigate and adapt to climate change.

These commitments, in spite of their risks of excluding certain suppliers, could be used to support smallholders and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to upgrade their production systems and, therefore, to be able to compete and benefit from sustainable supply chains.

“We need to bring these resources to more disadvantaged players to help them gain access to tenure rights, proper loans and financing,” said Pacheco.

“For example, if a company pledges not to buy from smallholders who are encroaching on forested land, these people will no longer have a source of income. So we need to engage them in the forestry market, provide better more efficient agricultural methods, provide resources and create alternative livelihoods.”.

“Many companies are clashing with informal economies, so we need to find ways to formalize these processes,” he said. “I think regularizing tenure rights and finding resources for these marginalized people is key.”

Pacheco added that initiatives stemming from the private sector need to be linked to governments, especially when it concerns land tenure and planning.

During the panel, CIFOR scientists argued that there is more than enough justification for the UNFCCC to develop guidelines that will assist engagement with non-state actors in climate mitigation and adaptation actions in a socially and environmentally responsible way to implement the Paris Agreement.

They say this could be done through information to be included in NDCs and through the modalities under negotiation to enhance the UNFCCC Transparency Framework. Voluntary commitments through transparent processes that are open to wider society are also needed. Finally, indigenous groups, including women, also need to be included in the process.

  • Home
  • Strengthening women’s tenure rights and participation in community forestry

Strengthening women’s tenure rights and participation in community forestry

Posted by


Key messages

  • Although women’s rights and participation may be granted by statute, they are not automatically exercised or implemented due to cultural norms, lack of capacities or inadequate budgets.
  • In the absence of effective implementation of gender equitable statutes, negotiation and facilitation by trusted intermediaries can begin to strengthen women’s rights and participation, and lower transaction costs of collective action.
  • Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM), which aims to level the playing field, resolve conflict, foster collaboration and negotiation, and build skills and capacities, is a viable way to promote gender equity, even among communities that are strongly patriarchal and characterized by cultural practices that exclude women from tree planting and land ownership.
  • Men are important actors for strengthening women’s rights and overall empowerment. Mixed groups of men and women can be viable pathways for women’s empowerment as opposed to women’s only groups.
  • ACM facilitation has opened up opportunities to improve local livelihoods and demonstrated gains to sustainable forest and land management, especially on-farm tree planting and the restoration of degraded forests.

Source: CIFOR publications

  • Home
  • Brexit rattles Indonesia's timber trade prospects with Europe

Brexit rattles Indonesia’s timber trade prospects with Europe

Posted by

FTA communications

Photo by Murdani Usman/CIFOR
Unloading teak logs in Jepara, Central Java, Indonesia. Photo by Murdani Usman for CIFOR.

By Herry Purnomo, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

Shortly after the British people voted on June 24 to leave the European Union, the country witnessed a change of prime minister and economic uncertainties radiated around the globe.

For timber traders and advocates of environmental sustainability in Indonesia, this development was a major concern. The country was about to clear the final hurdle toward getting the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) license for its timber trade. The license would allow Indonesia’s timber to enter the EU easily, bypassing strict EU timber regulation requirements.

This was made possible in April, when President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo met European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels and agreed to smoothen the FLEGT licensing path for Indonesian timber.

The repercussions of Brexit may affect the terms of this licensing, but what is its likely impact on timber legality and the sustainability of forests in Indonesia? Sustainability and legality are main issues in managing forest and timber products; timber legality was thus discussed at the recent Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit held in Brunei from Aug. 3 to 5.

These issues are especially a concern in Indonesia, which has 69 million hectares of production forest, of which 36 million hectares are under forest concession permits. The 1945 Constitution mandates that Indonesia manage its forest and natural resources sustainably.

However, after 20 years of certification processes, Indonesia has only 5 million hectares of certified production forest under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Eco-labeling Institute (LEI) and the Program for Endorsement Forest Certification (PEFC) as stated by the Indonesian Forest Certification Forum, but these voluntary schemes have not worked optimally to create sustainable forests.

In 2003 the government initiated a mandatory Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK) to reduce illegal logging — the result of an agreement between Indonesia and the EU. Currently, 4.6 million hectares of concessions, 500,000 hectares of community forest and 1,908 timber industries have been SVLK-certified.

With Brexit, there will be at least two types of impact on Indonesian forests: economic and political.

Economists predict Brexit will slow down the UK economy as well as those across the EU and China. Indonesia’s timber exports to the EU reached US$609 million in 2015, but with Brexit they could shrink by 2 percent, $12 million, this year.

It could see additional reduction if Chinese demand for Indonesian timber drops, as China is the main timber exporter to the EU. This is not the whole story. The domino effect of a Brexit fallout can lead to conservative spending and cutbacks that could see reduced investment in Indonesia’s timber industry.

If this happens, the government’s optimism in being able to raise exports of its timber products such as furniture, pulp and paper and plywood, valued at $11 billion through FLEGT licensing could now be a dream. Jokowi, a former furniture businessman, had an ambitious plan to boost furniture exports from $1.8 billion to $5 billion in 2020.

If realized, it would improve the livelihoods of millions of small-scale furniture producers and craftspeople in a country where 98 percent of furniture making is done by small and medium enterprises.

The UK, as a main sponsor of the SVLK initiative through its multi-stakeholder forestry program, is a strong supporter of this program in Indonesia. As a result, Indonesia benefitted from the significant backing of EU countries, led by the UK, in the FLEGT process.

After Brexit, there are doubts about the UK’s political influence to push through this FLEGT licensing process among SVLK stakeholders in EU member states by the end of this year.


First, Indonesia should continue to improve forest governance regardless of international assistance and pressure; this can be understood as working toward stipulations in the 1945 Constitution to implement sustainable development.

Second, Indonesia can provide more support for forest certifications such as the FSC, LEI and PEFC that are independent of a state or bloc.

The government needs to endorse voluntary forest certification by providing more economic incentives to those certified, which could then attract others to join the process. More funds need to be allocated to help small-scale forestry comply with FSC, LEI and PEFC standards.

Five million hectares of certified forest after 20 years of certification in Indonesia is not good at all. Indonesia needs to double or triple this figure in the next five years.

Encouraging more investments into sustainable practices will boost exports of forest products to meet Jokowi’s goals and support the millions working in small and medium scale enterprises.

Third, talk with the UK on its timber market to manage the impact of Brexit and deepen engagement with Germany and France to access the timber legality market in the EU. Since timber legality is required by many countries, there could only be more incentive for Indonesia to obtain global recognition for this.

Timber legality is just one step toward ensuring the sustainability of Indonesia’s forests and reducing carbon emissions, conserving biodiversity and improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent people.’

*This article was originally published in the Jakarta Post

For more information on this topic, please contact Herry Purnomo at h.purnomo@cgiar.org.
This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
  • Home
  • Challenges and opportunities for sustainable rubber in Myanmar

Challenges and opportunities for sustainable rubber in Myanmar

Posted by

FTA communications

Authors: Kenney-Lazar, M.; Wong, G.

Key points

  • Smallholder rubber production in southern Myanmar has alleviated rural poverty, while large-scale plantation concessions in the north have led to land expropriation and limited livelihood options for rural people.
  • Policies should support smallholder rubber production over large-scale models, while addressing the economic challenges that smallholders face, such as low quality and quantity of latex production.
  • All forms of rubber production require regulation to ensure that land use rights of rural people are not infringed upon, forests are not cleared to make way for rubber plantations and the use of agrochemicals is limited.
  • A diversity of subsistence and cash crops should be planted – at the landscape level and in plots using agroforestry – to retain higher levels of biodiversity and protect against price crashes.

Geographic: Myanmar

Series: CIFOR Infobrief no. 154

Publisher: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia

  • Home
  • Challenges and opportunities for sustainable rubber in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Challenges and opportunities for sustainable rubber in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Posted by

FTA communications

Authors: Kenney-Lazar, M.; Wong, G.

Key points

  • The opportunities provided by rubber cultivation in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) have been offset by sustainability challenges, such as low prices, food insecurity, land expropriation, deforestation and a loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Smallholder rubber has had the greatest success in alleviating poverty while limiting environmental impacts and should be the preferred form of rubber production.
  • Improved and extensive credit, technical and extension services are needed to support a robust smallholder sector that cultivates rubber in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
  • Large-scale land concessions for rubber should be limited and highly regulated to prevent expropriation of rural people’s lands, unfair compensation, deforestation, agro-chemical pollution and exploitative labor practices

Series: CIFOR Infobrief no. 153

Publisher: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia

Publication Year: 2016

  • Home
  • What’s in a land title?

What’s in a land title?

Posted by

FTA communications

Sergio Perea, president of the Tres Islas community in Peru, presenting Brazil nuts. Photo credit: Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR
Sergio Perea, president of the Tres Islas community in Peru, presenting Brazil nuts. Photo credit: Juan Carlos Huayllapuma/CIFOR

Originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

The indigenous community of Tres Islas in southeastern Peru seems to have it all—good fishing; a vast forest of timber, Brazil nut, palm and other trees; and natural beauty any ecotourist would pay to enjoy.

But the villagers have learned that having communal land rights does not guarantee the enjoyment of all these rights.

“Our community received its land title more than 22 years ago through the efforts of our parents and grandparents,” said Sergio Perea, president of Tres Islas, one of the communities included in a global forest-tenure study conducted under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. “We thought having this title would give us the right to all the resources on our land.”

But this isn’t the case. Possessing a land title doesn’t guarantee the rural villagers in Tres Islas’ tenure security or improved livelihoods .

In this region, the forests are considered state property, and communities must obtain permits to use timber and non-timber resources. That is often a difficult, time-consuming process that requires technical expertise and payment of fees that communities cannot afford.

What’s more, the community’s current land title does not cover the entire area that the villagers claim as their territory. This has led to conflicts with people who hold timber rights or other concessions on land that the community considers its own.

Even on their titled land, villagers must have a government permit to harvest timber. They also face conflicts with outsiders who hold mining concessions that overlap with their land, as well as with miners and loggers who operate on their land illegally.


But the villagers of Tres Islas have found innovative ways to organize and obtain the assistance they need to find solutions.

“Because of the challenges they faced, they had to organize quickly,” said Iliana Monterroso, a post-doctoral fellow at CIFOR, who leads the Peru part of the comparative study, which also includes Uganda and Indonesia. “They also developed new skills, as they had to engage with the government and with non-governmental organizations, and the courts. Some of the lessons from their experience can be useful to communities elsewhere that find themselves in similar situations.”

Under Peruvian law, a title gives indigenous communities land rights, but resources such as forests remain the property of the state. While indigenous communities can receive permits to harvest timber, they must file annual operating plans.

Most communities lack the expertise to develop such plans, so they hire outside forestry experts. The high cost of preparing the plan can exceed the expected revenue from timber sales.

On public lands, the government grants concessions to private individuals or companies for a specified time. These concessions may be for extractive activities, such as timber or mining, or for Brazil nut harvesting, reforestation, conservation or ecotourism.

For decades in Madre de Dios, the region where Tres Islas is located, these concessions were handled by different ministries, which did not coordinate with one another. As a result, today there are many overlapping claims.

On a single piece of land, different concession holders may have rights for timber, Brazil nut harvesting, tourism, farming and mining. Sometimes, outsiders’ claims overlap indigenous communities, even though the communities possess the title.

To further complicate matters, some concessions, such as oil and gas and large-scale mining, are controlled by the national government, while regional governments manage others.

Although the residents of Tres Islas gained title to their land more than two decades ago, the entire community falls within two oil and gas leases. By law, the Peruvian government must hold a prior consultation with indigenous communities about any development project that would affect their communal rights.

After some internal conflict, the community voted in January 2015 not to participate in any prior consultation about exploration in the oil and gas leases. That effectively cut off oil and gas development in the area for the moment, although the issue is likely to come up again.

The battle against mining was longer and more complicated. Madre de Dios has a long history of small- and medium-scale placer gold mining, much of it unregulated. Several government-granted concessions overlapped Tres Islas, while other miners operated illegally within the community’s boundaries.

With the mining camps came problems of illegal logging, commerce of contraband gasoline for motors, and trafficking of women for prostitution, according to community leaders.

In 2010, the community decided to retake control of its lands by limiting access by outsiders. Transportation workers who provided services to illegal miners sued them and won. The community then took the case to Peru’s Constitutional Tribunal, which issued a landmark ruling in 2012 upholding the community’s autonomy and its right to control access to its territory.

Villagers in Tres Islas are now preparing for a future that they hope will be more sustainable. With the help of non-profit organizations, they developed a timber management plan, which complies with regulations that require them to have an annual operating plan and keep meticulous records. They also have plans for harvesting Brazil nuts and other non-timber forest products, and they are launching a community-based tourism enterprise.

Each activity is coordinated by a committee, and the members of the committees pay a portion of their earnings into a fund that is used to benefit the entire community.

“The community needed to organize internally in the short term to handle its legal problem, so it established a committee to work with the lawyers,” said Monterroso. “Then they began to realize that they needed to organize other groups for other important activities, such as managing non-timber forest products, like Brazil nuts.”

At the beginning of each year, community members gather the cannonball-shaped Brazil nut pods that fall from huge trees (Bertholletia excelsa). They skillfully split the pods open and spread the Brazil nuts out to dry. In the past, they sold the nuts to intermediaries, often at unfavorable prices.

With outside support, Tres Islas has now acquired equipment for drying and processing Brazil nuts so the community can increase its income. Members of the community’s Brazil nut committee are already experimenting with new products, such as Brazil nut sweets.

Plans are also under way to process palm fruit, although the plant has not yet been equipped. An ecotourism committee is also developing plans to attract visitors. With two of Peru’s major nature tourism attractions, Manu National Park and the Tambopata National Reserve, Madre de Dios is a magnet for tourism.


Although the Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling means the community’s land rights are more secure, the villagers still face challenges in bringing their plans to fruition.

They are awaiting installation of electricity for the Brazil nut processing plant. Financing the preparation of annual operating plans for timber management will also be a challenge, said Perea. And in the tourism business, they will be competing with established agencies.

They are not alone: the challenges of Tres Islas are common to all three countries that comprise CIFOR’s global comparative study on forest tenure reform according to preliminary findings.

“In all these countries, they are facing three main problems: land grabbing and competing land uses; lack of support to defend their rights and fully benefit from the forest resources; and limited capacity, in terms of capital, to make their resources more profitable,” said Mani Ram Banjade, a post-doctoral fellow at CIFOR involved with this project.

Baruani Mshale, who leads the study in Uganda, shares a similar view. “In the case of Uganda, we are also finding that providing a certificate or a title is absolutely essential, but not an end in itself. There is a lot more that needs to be done, and it goes beyond the forest. It goes beyond the title deed. It is a matter of understanding what else is needed by the forestry communities.”

  • Home
  • Impacts of industrial tree plantations in Indonesia: Exploring local perceptions

Impacts of industrial tree plantations in Indonesia: Exploring local perceptions

Posted by

FTA communications

Authors: Pirard, R.

Key messages

  • Based on a survey about perceptions of industrial tree plantations of 606 respondents living in the vicinity of such plantations over three Indonesian islands, we find a clear divide, with evidence of more negative perceptions around acacia (pulp and paper) plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan compared with those around pine (resin and timber) and teak (timber) in Java.
  • Acacia pulpwood plantations develop in more remote areas, where they contribute to opening up jobs and infrastructure; these facts are only partly acknowledged by local populations, as expectations have not been fully met. The plantations generate manynegative impacts such as deprivation of access to land for locals, environmental damage such as loss of biodiversity, and various annoyances such as dust or noise.
  • Pine and teak plantations are usually found in more developed areas and have a much longer presence in the landscape, dating from before Independence in many cases; they are therefore much less associated to negative changes, and their contributions to local development through the provision of jobs or environmental services are acknowledged.
  • Intermediary institutions have already proved their effectiveness in the Javanese context with pine and teak plantations, and could be mainstreamed with support from the government.
  • We find reasons to hope for better impacts if proper management decisions are made. For instance, companies can adapt rotation periods and involve local people early in the planning process in order to satisfy the most important needs and requests, mitigate risks of conflicts, and eventually improve local impacts.

Series: CIFOR Infobrief no. 152

Publisher: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor, Indonesia

Publication Year: 2016

  • Home
  • Bundling forest ecosystem services for FSC certification: an analysis of stakeholder adaptability 11

Bundling forest ecosystem services for FSC certification: an analysis of stakeholder adaptability 11

Posted by

FTA communications

An expansion of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to forest ecosystem services (FES) is a potential tool to improve FES management. Certification of FES in bundles is an expected strategy because it could decrease trade-offs among FES, increase forest owners’ incomes, and reduce certification costs per FES. However, there is insufficient evidence of which bundles FES would be most feasible to certify. This study assesses the adaptability of the FSC system to FES bundles through analyses of FES projects and surveys of FSC certification bodies, enabling partners, and certificate holders. Exploratory factor analysis and multiple correspondence analysis identified two bundles: 1) soil and watershed conservation and 2) cultural ecotourism with non-timber forest products or agricultural goods. These findings indicate potentially manageable FES bundles, given the current FSC system and FES projects, as well as some implementation challenges.

Source : CIFOR Publication

  • Home
  • Tax amnesty, the green economy and peat restoration

Tax amnesty, the green economy and peat restoration

Photo: Flickr/401Kcalculator.org
Posted by

FTA communications

Peat is partially decayed vegetation that has accumulated over many years. When peatlands are cleared and drained for plantations, including those for palm oil and pulp and paper, it becomes dry and vulnerable to fires.
Peat is partially decayed vegetation that has accumulated over many years. When peatlands are cleared and drained for plantations, including those for palm oil and pulp and paper, it becomes dry and vulnerable to fires.

By Herry Purnomo, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

The Indonesian government seeks to collect USD 13 billion from its tax amnesty program this year, says the country’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

Although less than USD six  billion has been collected for tax amnesty so far during the first period (July- September 2016) until September 27th,  the minister is optimistic that this target can be achieved.

With a potential USD 50 billion total to be obtained from the amnesty, President Joko Widodo hopes to use this extra cash to boost infrastructure development to drive progress in the country.

There are many ways he can achieve this.

At the 2nd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS) in Brunei Darussalam this past August, panelists for a session on the green economy suggested that the government use part of this tax amnesty money towards peat restoration.

In 2015, Indonesia experienced the widespread burning of approximately 2.6 million hectares of land and forest. More than 19 people died. Half a million people developed respiratory infections. 43 million people were exposed to toxic haze. Economic losses from the catastrophe clocked in at USD 16.1 billion, according to the World Bank.

Last January, the government of Indonesia established the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), mandated to restore 2.2 million hectares of peat in state, community and concession lands in the next five years. Restoration efforts include the rewetting of peat, re-vegetation and livelihood development.

Photo: Flickr/401Kcalculator.org
Photo: Flickr/401Kcalculator.org


This will require a lot of investment.

The cost of peat rewetting and re-vegetation per hectare together can reach USD 2,000 while livelihood development costs can fetch USD 500. Annual costs would be approximately USD 1.1 billion. Therefore, the restoration of Indonesia’s burnt land and forest would require nearly USD 5.5 billion over five years.

The huge investment required for peat restoration cannot be born solely by the government. Partnerships are needed, because if the BRG is responsible for providing one-third of the amount required for peat restoration, the rest must be provided by the private sector. Under the current government’s tight budget, it seems that BRG will not receive a sufficient amount of funding.

If the government target of USD 13 billion from the tax amnesty is received, then only three percent of that would suffice to add to the lack in the BRG budget, at least for the next year.

Many Indonesian citizens do not report their income and property to avoid paying taxes, and some even deposit their money in neighboring countries like Singapore. Under the new tax amnesty law, the government provides a limited-time opportunity for taxpayers to pay a defined amount in exchange for forgiveness of a tax liability related to a previous tax period or periods unaccounted for without fear of criminal prosecution.

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flies over burning peat. Outside Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. Photo by Aulia Erlangga/ CIFOR
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flies over burning peat. Outside Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. Photo by Aulia Erlangga/ CIFOR

Using part of this money to restore the country’s already damaged peatlands would be a wise way to both support the country in its conservation efforts and to assuage critics of the program who argue that the money could come from tax crime, corruption and illegal logging and fishing.

Even if a portion of tax amnesty funds stem from one of the aforementioned illegal activities, the outcome would still be positive if it was invested in peat restoration or forest certification.

Tax amnesty payers would then be participating in a green economy that benefits all, while the government would boost its green economy.


At the APRS, discussants urged Asia-Pacific countries – where rapid deforestation has been taking place – to take collective and measurable efforts to boost public-people-private partnerships to lower carbon emissions to meet objects set out in the Paris Agreement, conserve forests and reduce poverty.

Those concerned about peat conservation and development recently gathered in Malaysia for the 15th International Peat Congress. With a focus on peat deforestation in the tropics, one of the Congress’s goals was to promote the conservation and sustainable development of peatlands and to reinforce public-people-private partnerships.

Indonesia can learn how to conserve and sustainably develop its peat from others around the world, including those with boreal and temperate peat. The government of Malaysia even envisions developing peat commodities, including palm oil, in harmony with the environment and ecosystems.

The theme of the Congress, “Peatland in harmony”, highlights the closely intertwined relationship of the environment, industry and socio-economic factors in relation to peat.

From Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia, people in the Asia-Pacific region are discussing the sustainability of forests, landscapes and peat. Harmony between conservation and development is urgent and necessary.

The huge contribution of forestry and palm oil industries to economies and livelihoods in the region is clear. But it often comes at the expense of the other values offered by forests. Shifting to a green economy addresses many of the challenges associated with balancing the value of natural capital with the needs of a developing economy.

The people of Indonesia would likely welcome more tax amnesty if it wasn’t a mere question of economics, but rather one about poverty alleviation, small and medium enterprises, environmental conservation and carbon emissions reduction – as outlined in the green economy.

That way President Jokowi would not only win an economic recovery, but also people’s hearts.

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
  • Home
  • How participatory research gets to the bottom of forest tenure

How participatory research gets to the bottom of forest tenure

Cattle graze on agricultural land in Maluku, Indonesia. Photo by T. Herawati/ CIFOR
Posted by


Agricultural land at Seram Barat District, Maluku. Photo by Tuti Herawati/ CIFOR
Agricultural land at Seram Barat District, Maluku. Photo by Tuti Herawati/ CIFOR

Adapted from CIFOR’s Forests News

What are the biggest obstacles that local communities face when ensuring rights to their forest resources? Community leaders say it’s the red tape and the cost of travel from rural villages to the towns where government offices are located. They also see poor-quality education and health care as additional hurdles that make it more difficult for communities to organize. Meanwhile, government officials note other obstacles, such as a shortage of staff or the difficulty of traveling to remote villages. Because these groups do not often engage in dialogue, problems can persist and forest-tenure reforms can stall. A recent workshop in Peru organized under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry brought both sides together with technical experts to discuss land tenure and land use rights. Barbara Fraser spoke to the researchers involved.

Participatory Prospective Analysis (PPA) is an innovative approach to discussing tenure problems that combines the knowledge of technical experts and decision makers with the knowledge of people from the communities. This happens in workshops which are part of the Global Comparative Study on Forest Tenure Reform, undertaken by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Peru, Indonesia and Uganda. This helps to identify factors affecting forest-tenure reform and design scenarios that could lead to better policies.

The workshops show participants how they can best address the complex issues of forest-tenure reform. Thy identify potential pitfalls, such as obstacles to the reform and to putting it into practice. This allows them to come up with strategies for mitigating negative factors.

“The first challenge is identifying the stakeholders, because you don’t know the people and their skills,” says Iliana Monterroso, coordinator of the study in Peru. “The process itself takes time, given the amount of discussions and brainstorming. And people have to listen to each other, so you don’t want people who are too dominating.”

It all begins with a workshop in which participants identify the social, technical, economic, political and environmental factors that affect the process of securing land tenure.

GCS-Tenure Project, Ambon  Seram island. Photo by Tuti Herawati/ CIFOR
GCS-Tenure Project, Ambon
Seram island. Photo by Tuti Herawati/ CIFOR

The researchers enter this information into a computer program, and participants use the results to examine how those factors influence each other directly and indirectly. After eliminating factors that they cannot control, they choose about five that they agree are most important. They then envision different scenarios to explore how land-tenure policy could change, depending on those factors and the actions that they and their organizations take.

This sounds complex, but it is worthwhile, says CIFOR researcher Nining Liswanti. “Discussing these scenarios help people think about strategies for avoiding outcomes that would not be as positive.”

Focus on Maluku, Indonesia

In Indonesia, the workshops included community leaders, officials from government forest, land and water agencies, and representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organizations and universities.

The goal was to design scenarios for implementing forest-tenure reforms on the densely populated island of Maluku, where no reforms have taken place, and for improving the livelihoods of people who depend on forests in the district of Lampung, on the southern tip of Sumatra, where most people are migrants and reforms are already under way.

The participants outlined possible future scenarios that ranged from the ideal—in which all stakeholders would make some concessions—to others in which the government or private interests had more power.

Participants all considered the government’s willingness to support forest-tenure reform as crucial for positive scenarios. Enforcement of forest regulations, community participation in forest management and respect for local cultures were also mentioned frequently.

Forest landscape in Uganda. Photo by Douglas Sheil for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Forest landscape in Uganda. Photo by Douglas Sheil for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Migration part of the picture in Uganda

In the western district of Kibaale, Uganda, immigration has swelled the number of people who depend on forest resources. This creates uncertainties about tenure and rights, which are further complicated by absentee landholders.

Masindi, also located in western Uganda, is marked by the destruction of forests for corporate farms and ranches, as well as the imminent possibility of oil production, which could harm forests, but which could also create better-paying jobs that might reduce people’s dependence on forests.

The Ugandan participants envisioned scenarios in which the government made and enforced clear rules for immigration and resettlement, budgeted for forest management and provided enough personnel to enforce regulations, while traditional community leaders received training in sustainable forest management.

Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon is the third location of the study. Photo: CIFOR
Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon is the third location of the study. Photo: CIFOR

PPA in Peru

In Peru, the analysis was done with government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations and leaders of communities scattered along rivers in the Amazonian regions of Loreto and Madre de Dios.

One persistent obstacle for the indigenous communities is that that they are not free to make decisions about forest use, because forests are considered a public good, governed by national laws as well as regional regulations. This makes building local and regional scenarios difficult, because they are still subject to the limitations imposed by national laws, according to researcher Alejandra Zamora, who is leading the application of the methodology in Peru.

Tensions also arise over overlapping land rights. Community leaders said they felt regional governments lacked the will to resolve tenure problems, while government officials said they were limited by budget constraints.

“These discussions help participants arrive at implementation processes that are more effective at improving tenure rights and resource access, as well as identifying who should be responsible for these actions,” says Monterroso. “They discover that there is not only one possible scenario, but rather various potential futures.”

  • Home
  • Four decades of forest degradation: Fire And oil palm expansion in Borneo

Four decades of forest degradation: Fire And oil palm expansion in Borneo

Posted by


  • Home
  • Indonesia can stamp out forest and land fires--with serious action

Indonesia can stamp out forest and land fires–with serious action

Army officers and and firefighters try to extinguish fires in peatland areas, outside Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. Photo Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR
Posted by


Army officers and and firefighters try to extinguish fires in peatland areas, outside Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. Photo Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR
Army officers and and firefighters try to extinguish fires in peatland areas, outside Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. Photo Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR

By Herry Purnomo, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

Fifty years ago, Indonesia was rich with pristine forest. And then – three booms happened: Between 1980 and 2000 – a timber logging boom, illegal logging followed in the 10 years from 2000, and the palm oil boom came after that.

Pristine forest was severely logged and turned into degraded forest. What was left was slashed and burned, made ready for oil palm and wood plantations of different scales.

This landscape transformation brought benefits and costs to various actors. But fire and haze were also part of the landscape transformation.

Under President Joko Widodo, the Government of Indonesia has committed to reducing – or even zeroing – fire incidences in Indonesia. And although some improvements have been made, fire and haze continue. And this year, the country is facing El Niño, which will cause drier weather and increase the occurrence of fire and haze.

Solutions are needed, because current actions mostly deal with fighting fires and are not systematically harnessing the politics and economy of fires. Reviewing fire policy and laws (what works and does not work), mapping actors and their networks and economies, providing clear and transparent spatial maps, and engaging with key policy makers and practitioners are key for reducing fire and haze.

Watch: The underlying causes of fire and haze


Unclear spatial planning is constraining the fire reduction effort. At a stakeholder consultative meeting in Pekanbaru on 25 March, the need for agreement and an enforceable spatial plan was underlined. This is not enough.

All stakeholders need to again sit down and discuss spatial mapping and try to reach agreement. Negotiating the interests of conservation, legality, business, local livelihoods, carbon emission reductions and so on is vital, but so too is the understanding that an “ideal” solution may not exist.

When discussing the history of a degraded area, negotiations should cover not only space but also duration. For example, an area that has been converted illegally from a conservation area to oil palm plantation could remain oil palm for a certain number of years to provide compensate for the investment by private sectors or local communities.

However, after that designated time period, it would be time to restore the area to forest.

Illegal land transactions can, and do, occur in concession and state lands, where the area is not really secured. This economic demand for lands that are degraded, burned and planted with oil palm largely drives the land transformation from pristine forest into the agricultural plantations that provide huge benefits to certain actors.

The government needs to create disincentives for illegally degraded, burned and oil-palm-planted lands by putting a legality standard over the land being sold.

Farmers have to tend to their land in the haze, here Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. Photo: Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR P
Farmers have to tend to their land in the haze, here Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan. Photo: Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR


Detecting, anticipating and prosecuting organized crime involved in illegal land transactions causing fire and haze is the role of legal institutions. At the same time, police, lawyers and judges dealing with related forest and environmental laws must receive training.

President Joko Widodo’s administration has already established a task force to resolve conflicts in Indonesia’s forests.

The task force will be a joint collaboration between Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF), the Home Affairs Ministry, the Agrarian Ministry, and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). To ensure the success of this task force, the public must be made aware of the importance of reducing fire and haze, using mass and social media.


Peat degradation is the main source of Indonesia’s carbon emissions through fire. Preserving peat is not only about a valuable ecosystem, it is also about the people who live there.

To reduce fire on peatlands, we need to develop immediate livelihood and income sources for indigenous and local communities living on already-degraded land. These could include annual crops, horticulture, agroforestry and planted trees depending on peat depths, along with related small-scale industries along the value chains.

Haze from the forest fires blanket most parts of the landscape. The rainfall during the flight also contributed to the limited visibility. Photo: Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR
Haze from the forest fires blanket most parts of the landscape. The rainfall during the flight also contributed to the limited visibility. Photo: Aulia Erlangga/CIFOR

At the same time, those communities living on good peatland need assistance to develop their livelihood and income sources – with the help of such schemes as payments for ecosystem services and REDD+.

Strengthening and providing financial support to grassroots organisations such as Fire Concerned Communities (Masyarakat Peduli Api) will ensure their effectiveness in supporting fire detection and early warning systems.

Local initiatives at the microlevel should restore peatland by blocking canals, wetting the peat and planting  Jelutong, rubber and pineapple plants.

Scaling up into landscape levels or hydrological units will need deeper thinking and multi-stakeholder approaches as water is a scarce resource and can be a source of conflict in the dry season.

Planning and executing water-level management at the landscape level through – among other actions –canal blocking would ensure fairness for both small-scale and large actors.

Community and livelihood development are necessary to sustain peat restoration. Sharing the good practices of local initiatives and the private sector in peat ecosystem restoration and encouraging the adoption of those practices will help create uniformity.

Finally, reducing fire and haze is not only a “TO DO” list to follow as outlined above; it’s also about HOW to do things and WHO should be doing them.


We can use a ‘landscape approach’ to reconcile agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses to answer the question of HOW.

In this approach, the government, smallholders and other key stakeholders will be called to consider their multiple goals in the landscape, understand the drivers, set priorities,take action and monitor progress.

Understanding WHO really are “the stakeholders of fire” is a key to the success of the landscape approach. This approach will be guided by the ten principles of a landscape approach, which emphasize adaptive management, stakeholder involvement, and multiple objectives.

Collective actions among ASEAN country members – to reduce fire and haze through continuous dialogue, pooling funding and concrete actions on the ground – are needed to realize the vision of a haze-free ASEAN by 2020.

Finally, thinking globally, linking to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is required to get better support from national and international communities.

  • Home
  • Towards more sustainable and productive independent oil palm smallholders in Indonesia: Insights from the development of a smallholder typology

Towards more sustainable and productive independent oil palm smallholders in Indonesia: Insights from the development of a smallholder typology

Working Paper 47 pid=2893
Posted by


The rapid expansion of Indonesia’s independent smallholder oil palm sector is posing important productivity, sustainability and legality challenges. As a result, the need to better regulate independent oil palm smallholders is increasingly being acknowledged by Indonesian polity. Because the sub-sector is comprised of highly diverse stakeholder groups that face and pose distinct challenges, a targeted and stakeholder-disaggregated approach to sector regulation is required. Efforts to that effect have, however, been frustrated by an inadequate understanding of independent oil palm smallholder characteristics and associated challenges. This paper aims to contribute to this knowledge gap by developing a typology of independent oil palm smallholders. Through a hierarchical cluster analysis employing field data collected on 1840 smallholders in one of Sumatra’s largest oil palm producing districts, Rokan Hulu, six sub-groups are identified, which are differentiated here on the basis social, economic, and geographic characteristics. Drawing on these results, the paper identifies a number of specific intervention priorities for each of the sub-groups

Source: CIFOR publications

  • Home
  • Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi series: Unravelling rural migration networks: land-tenure arrangements among Bugis migrant communities in Southeast Sulawesi

Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi series: Unravelling rural migration networks: land-tenure arrangements among Bugis migrant communities in Southeast Sulawesi

Posted by

FTA communications

Authors: Elok Ponco Mulyoutami, Ekawati Sri Wahyuni, Lala M Kolopaking

Spontaneous rural-to-rural migration has many impacts on every dimension of human life. Migration driven by the hunger for land has been stimulated by the development of high economic value crops. The study of migration networks will contribute to a better portrait of continuing migration and the related actors: their influence on the decision to migrate and their role in facilitating the migration. This study focussed on Bugis migrant communities-famous as great wanderers-in Southeast Sulawesi Province, Indonesia. In the province, smallholders’ cocoa plantations are dominated by Bugis migrants, contributing two-thirds of the total 137 833 tonnes of cocoa production in 2010. Research was conducted at the migrants’ destination (Konawae District) and origin (Sinjai District). The study showed that the main motivation for Bugis to migrate was to obtain land. The three main waves of migration to Southeast Sulawesi are characterized by development of a major commodity in each time period: 1) the ‘green revolution’ with paddy-rice development in the 1970s–80s; 2) the cocoa boom in early (1980s–2000s) and late phases (2000s until present). Four migration network patterns were deliberately or unintentionally developed by the Bugis migrant community: 1) kinship network; 2) patron–client relationship; 3) migration owing to work displacement; and 4) the pioneer migration: early migrants who have lived in Southeast Sulawesi for a long time. In each wave, the central actor in the migration is the land broker, linking different villages and families.

Publisher: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Southeast Asia Regional Program, Bogor, Indonesia

Working Paper 225

Download PDF at World Agroforestry Centre


Back to top

Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Connect with us