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Research Report

LEARNING TO ADAPT: Managing Forests Together in Indonesia

Trikurnianti Kusumanto
Elizabeth Linda Yuliani
Phil Macoun
Yayan Indriatmoko
Hasantoha Adnan
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2005
Pages: 207
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. vi-vi)
    Emil Salim

    To the Indonesian people forests are very dear. Not only because they provide food and income for over a hundred million people in rural and urban areas, but also because they form the foundation of the diverse cultures and beliefs that form the country’s wealth. Notwithstanding this, people have badly treated the forest in many places. The country’s forest cover is declining rapidly with forest resources decreasing dramatically. Over time, the government, non-governmental sector, local communities and forestry commercial sector have tried out new programmes and policies with the aim to better manage and protect forests. However, one thing seems...

  2. Part One: Introduction

    • (pp. 3-8)

      In early 2000, when researchers from around the world met at CIFOR headquarters to establish the ACM Group, Indonesia was experiencing social turmoil. Waves of changes were felt at all levels of society. The economic crisis in the previous years, the dramatic toppling of the autocratic leadership of President Suharto two years earlier and the bottled-up frustration of the people about the corrupt government spurred processes of change.

      As the changes rippled down to affect the Indonesian forestry picture, windows of opportunities opened for improving forest management. For a long time, the forests had been managed in an unsustainable and...

    • (pp. 9-24)

      The ACM approach refers to a process that aims at encouraging stakeholders to work together to plan, implement, observe and learn from their previous plans. To adequately describe the ACM approach, its key processes and elements, we need to consider the origins of ACM: adaptive management and collaborative management.

      In this chapter, we describe the main characteristics of each of these separate concepts and explain why and how we have combined them. It also tries to provide a simple understanding of the theories behind the ACM approach, including its central components and ‘heart and soul’ processes, and how they can...

  3. Part Two: The Context

    • (pp. 27-34)

      As noted earlier, our ACM research began amidst an economic and socio-political crisis in Indonesia. Fostered by widespread demands for a more sustainable and equitable forest management, collaborative approaches to forest management emerged only shortly before we started our research. Since this condition became the very setting in which our research took place, we pay some attention to it in this chapter.

      Collaborative forms of forest management have evolved relatively recently, originating in the 1970s when the government began experimenting with community participation in forestry. The government was then confronted with increasing social conflicts between local people and forestry projects,...

    • (pp. 35-54)

      After an extensive search for a research site our team selected two locations: Baru Pelepat village in Jambi, central Sumatra and Rantau Layung and Rantau Buta villages in Pasir, East Kalimantan (Figure 7).

      Now we have shared the broad context for our research, the present chapter presents the local setting. It describes the research sites, the stakeholders and the uncertainties that confronted them, as well as the level of ‘adaptiveness’ and collaboration of the local communities and groups.

      We could easily see from the landscape that the forests in both sites had been exposed to various human activities: fallow farming,...

  4. Part Three: The Practice

    • (pp. 57-100)

      The preceding chapter detailed the context in which our team applied ACM. This chapter shares our experiences in applying the approach in practice and assesses the outcome. These experiences were largely related to the shaping of conditions where stakeholders can learn together to adapt the ways they manage the social and natural environment.

      When our team became involved with the communities in the two sites, the villagers had experienced uncertainties as a result of the disappearance of their forests, changing relationships among community stakeholders and implementation of government policies. The stakeholders were motivated to learn how they could better deal...

    • (pp. 101-108)

      In the preceding chapter, we outlined how we applied ACM in practice, describing how we shaped conditions for learning among stakeholders. This chapter identifies the challenges we faced and the strengths and limitations that characterise ACM as we applied it.

      Like many others who work with stakeholders in jointly managing natural resources, we were challenged by constraints that were more or less common to any fieldwork using a participatory approach. These included, for example, limited participation of people because they were busy making a living, or the dependence on ‘outsiders’ in carrying out activities. We noticed, however, that ACM had...

    • (pp. 109-112)

      Knowing the challenges of ACM as well as its strengths and limitations, allows us to draw some lessons. This chapter presents the lessons we have learned from our research. ACM is an unfolding approach and the lessons shared below also emerged along the way. Some have already been discussed in more detail in preceding sections.

      1. From our research process we learned that ACM is able to assist different stakeholders to better organise themselves into groups with other stakeholders. Although a given stakeholder may have strong organisational abilities within its own group, it may have less capacity to link up and...

  5. Part Four: Implications and Conclusions

    • (pp. 115-124)

      The lessons that our team learned from applying ACM in the two Indonesian sites have implications for the way forests are managed in the country. This chapter presents the implications that we think are important.

      As noted in Chapter 3, participatory approaches have developed on a trial-and-error basis and at a slow pace. Government efforts have generally remained top-down and too cautious to experiment with participatory approaches. Efforts have largely been based on frames of reasoning where there is limited space for new ways of thinking. Learning that can challenge such mental models is needed. Learning is an option for...

    • (pp. 125-128)

      As our fieldwork attests, an approach like ACM that stresses a deliberate, iterative process of learning has two essential merits. It encourages different stakeholders to learn from their actions and adapt their management strategies accordingly. It also motivates stakeholders to build constructive relationships among each other.

      We do not have a recipe or tailor-made how-to guidelines for applying ACM or similar approaches. What we have attempted to share in this book is the way we did it so that readers can draw on our experience in developing their own guiding framework, which will evolve as the fieldwork progresses.

      The key...

  6. Annexes