Konda’s District Communities Pledge Forest Protection by: Nikka Gunadharma* and I Wayan Adi Mahardika**
Communities from five Bird’s Head villages: Konda, Wamargege, Manelek, Bariat, and Nakna (all part of the Konda District, South Sorong Regency) gathered in Bariat on the 10th of May, 2022, to declare their collective intention to protect and manage their ancestral forests. The event titled “Declaration of Commitment on Community-based Forest Management” focused on the customary procession, essentially, the communities’ pledge, to protect their forests, which was given before the ancestors of the region’s four sub-tribes: Yaben, Gemna, Absia, and Nakna.
Community-led natural resources management within the Bird’s Head is not a new concept; villages have collaborated to protect the environment and conserve resources since the early 2000s when the region’s MPAs were originally established. (See, for example, Raja Ampat’s Marine Protected Areas.) The Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s 2021 Decree in Social Forestry Management further codified the rights of communities to manage their own forest resources while utilizing the benefits.
At least 30,000 hectares of potentially manageable forest exists within the Konda District. The region is blessed with forests with plentiful tree cover, a variety of peatlands, mangroves, and other areas integral to a potential community-based agroforestry industry for the region. Adrianus Kemeray, the chairman of the meeting and Bariat Village’s headman, recognized the mentorship of the Puskasa Foundation, Econousa, and Konservasi Indonesia (KI)***. He reported that communities are beginning to understand that there are important economic opportunities in forest management and that the villages were committed to collaborating with the government, stakeholders, and other partners to manage their forests.
The Konda District Head, Luksen Annie, spoke about potential economic benefits from tourism derived through active management and protection. “(Through this initiative), I can already imagine, in the next few years, tourists smiling gleefully after they finished trekking in our forests. I can already imagine that we can use the woods for our daily needs and then plant significantly more trees after.”
This event also featured representatives from Sira and Manggroholo’s Forest Management Institution, Arkilaus Kladit. The institution has successfully implemented social forestry in those two villages and is expected to inspire the communities in Konda District.
Completing the customary procession, the chiefs of Yaben, Gemna, Absia, and Nakna signed the document, which supported their commitment to preserve their forests for the prosperity of their communities. These local leaders also endorsed future works, realizing that they must be done collaboratively with the governments, various agencies and other stakeholders such as NGOs, to ensure the success of the social forestry scheme.
Yunus Willem Krey, S.Hut., M.Si., Division Head of Forest Development and Social Forestry from West Papua’s Agency of Forestry, expressed appreciation for communities’ commitment to their forests. Yunus stated that West Papua Provincial Government, through the Forestry Agency, will provide necessary technical support for community-based forest management in Konda.
Konservasi Indonesia’s South Sorong Program Coordinator, Charles Richarth Tawaru, emphasized the event’s strategic value. “Besides the commitment declared, and agreement reached by the communities, there is also a commitment from the regional government to not grant any other licenses (beside social forestry-related) within the forest area of Konda, and to grant the community their management rights.” He also noted that Konda’s communities have emphatically refused to allow the development of palm oil plantations in the region.
Charlie, who has an extensive background in conservation work in Raja Ampat and throughout West Papua, also explained that Konda’s communities must work on socialization, training, and mapping of customary or village areas. He also mentioned the need for the communities and NGOs to discuss the cooperative roles between the related parties in making social forestry a reality in Konda District.
Samsudin Anggiluli, SE., the Regent of South Sorong, one of the highest-ranking officials to attend the Bariat meeting, stated that the communities’ initiative is in alignment with South Sorong’s development strategy, in which benefits are dedicated for the communities. He hopes that this initiative will eventually increase the communities’ prosperity and contribute to the region’s income.
Presenting a larger view of how the Konda communities’ actions place them within the context of global conservation and community action, the Regent said, “We, ladies and gentlemen, communities of five villages in Konda District can all be proud because this initiative is our contribution to the world in reducing the impacts of global warming and climate change.”
- Photo 01: Communities from five villages in Konda District, South Sorong Regency, conducting general rehearsal during the morning prior to the event in Bariat Village. (Photo by: Nikka Gunadharma-KI/2022);
- Photo 02: South Sorong Regent, Samsudin Anggiluli, SE., was greeted by traditional, welcoming dance for the event. (Photo by: I Wayan Adi Mahardika-KI/2022);
- Photo 03: One of the parts within the customary procession during the event on that Tuesday, 10th of May 2022. (Photo by: I Wayan Adi Mahardika-KI/2022);
- Photo 04: Regent of Sorong Selatan witnessed one of the chiefs in Konda District signed the event’s minutes on social forestry. Following the Regent, the minutes was also signed by witnesses from West Papua’s Forestry Agency, and representatives from NGOs working in Konda. (Photo by: I Wayan Adi Mahardika-KI/2022);
- Photo 05: Communities attending the event signed a banner supporting the community-based forestry management in Konda District. (Photo by: I Wayan Adi Mahardika-KI/2022).
* Nikka Gunadharma is the Raja Ampat Communication & Outreach Coordinator for Konservasi Indonesia.
** I Wayan Adi Mahardika is the Forest and Watershed Coordinator for Konservasi Indonesia.
*** KONSERVASI INDONESIA
Konservasi Indonesia (KI) is a national foundation that aims to support the sustainable development and protection of critical ecosystems in Indonesia. We believe in the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships across sectors and jurisdictions to support the preservation of critical ecosystems. We design and deliver innovative nature-based solutions to climate change, using a sustainable landscape–seascape approach to create lasting impacts for people and nature.
KI established strategic partnership with Conservation International (CI), following the closure of its programmatic operations in Indonesia. From three decades of work in Indonesia, CI adapted its strategy by partnering with KI. Our partnership with CI aims to increase the visibility of successes of our work for the international audiences, and to gain access towards global network as well. Kindly visit www.konservasi-id.org for further information.