30 Mei 2010

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Human cooperation and `gotong royong'

Classification of a subject has scientific and management purposes. Scientifically, classification is done to aid the advancement of science. As the scientific knowledge of a specific field progresses, the classification of that subject becomes more detailed. Classification is also a management tool to achieve the management goal.
The classification of forest according to the Forestry Act (No. 41, 1999) is certainly done for management purposes. The question is: Does our current forest classification help achieve the objective of forest management?

The government of Indonesia recognizes three functions of forest and classifies it accordingly into conservation forest, protection forest and production forest. The third category is clearly distinct from the rest, but the first and second categories are quite similar to each other in meaning.
The term conservation has caused confusion in the Forestry Ministry because it was not translated into Indonesian words that carry similar meanings (such as perlindungan for protection, pelestarian for preservation, pengawetan for preservation).
Instead, it was adopted with slight modification into konservasi and was given a specific meaning, different from that of the existing similar words.
The confusion was first manifested in the naming of the institution in charge of conservation.
First, when the forestry sector was under the Agriculture Ministry it was called the Directorate of Protection and Preservation of Nature. But when the Forestry Ministry was established, it became the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Preservation.
Several years later it became the Directorate General of Protection and Conservation of Nature, and finally it became the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation.
Because the Forestry Ministry adopted the term "conservation" in the 1980s when biodiversity was the hottest issue in the international environmental movement, conservation forest was defined as forest area that has specific features, with the main function for the preservation of plant and animal diversity and the ecosystem.
Meanwhile, protection forest is defined as forest areas having the function for protection of life-support systems to protect water regulation, prevent floods, control erosion, prevent sea water intrusion and protect soil fertility.
In short, according to Indonesian law, conservation forest is aimed to preserve biodiversity and the ecosystem, whereas protection forest is for soil and water protection.
This distinction is groundless in terms of scientific as well as management aspects. In scientific literature as well as in the management of environmental natural resources, the term "conservation of soil and water" has been used longer than "conservation of biodiversity".
In practice, when forestry staff who are in charge of conservation forest, namely the national park agencies and the natural resource conservation agencies, need support from community and local government officials, they emphasize the role of conservation forest in ensuring water flow for irrigation and protecting the people from floods and landslides.
What they tell people is actually the function of protection forest in Indonesian law. They will not focus on the protection of rare animals such as tigers and elephants because for the people living near forests, those animals are threats to their livelihoods, even their lives.
In the previous Forestry Act (No. 5, 1967), Indonesian forest was classified into four categories: production forest, protection forest, nature sanctuary forest and recreation forest. The last two categories were grouped into conservation forest in the new Forestry Law (Act No. 41, 1999), which in turn was divided into subcategories and then sub-sub categories.
The further subdivision of conservation forest creates even more confusion. First, conservation forest was divided into nature sanctuary area (kawasan suaka alam or KSA) and nature preservation area (kawasan pelestarian alam or KPA) and hunting park (taman buru).
The KSA is then divided into two sub-sub categories, namely strict nature reserve and wild animal sanctuary, while the KPA is divided into three sub-sub categories; national park, grand forest park and nature tourism park. From the etymological point of view, the nature sanctuary area and nature preservation area are difficult to distinguish.
In Article 4 of Government Regulation No. 68, 1998 regarding Nature Sanctuary Area and Nature Preservation Area, both the KSA and the KPA have exactly the same functions namely a) as an area of life support system b) as an area for preservation of plant and animal diversity and the ecosystem, and c) for the sustainable use of biological resources and the ecosystem.
However, Article 1 of the same regulation states that the KSA only has functions a) and b) above (without c).
In addition to conservation forest, there is also protected areas regulated by the 1990 Presidential Decree No. 32 regarding the management of protected areas. Protection forest and the KSA are some categories in the protected areas. If we compare the classification of protected areas and that of conservation forest there are some similarities but they are not exactly the same.
For example, in the presidential decree there is no KPA category and "national park" is included in the KSA.
The current laws and regulations on conservation forest are riddled with inconsistent classifications, indistinctiveness of criteria, functions and objectives among sub-categories and sub-sub categories.
Not only laymen, but even those trained in conservation will have trouble memorizing the main criteria, functions and objectives of each sub-sub categories.
For conservation staff in the field, understanding and conveying the management goal of each sub-sub category of conservation forest to the community will certainly be a difficult task. To be effective as a management tool, the current classification of conservation forest and protection forest, and the regulations that come with them, must be revised.
The new classification must be simple and logical and be based on the clearly defined functions of forests and goals of the management. The criteria for categorizing forest must be distinct for each category and applicable in the field.
The terms used must be easily understood by the general public.Unless we have a clear, simple and logical classification of conservation and protection forest, conservation workers will not be able to achieve the goal of conservation.
The writer is a lecturer at the University of Bengkulu's School of Forestry.
opini jakarta post 31 mei 2010