Fruitful Collaboration, Forest Farmers Agree to Self-Rehabilitate the Protected Forests in 7 Locations in Greater Malang

Theoretically, protected forests are designated by the government because of their function as a life buffer, such as for water availability, preventing erosion, preventing flooding and maintaining soil fertility. Obviously so important that the existence of the protected forests for people's lives, because one of the main functions is to maintain water system or water availability. 

But between theory and the regulation, it is often not fully enforced due to various reasons. In fact, there are many protected forests in Java that have switched functions into agricultural land or plantations. Economic needs are often the reason for protected forest poaching. 

The extent of protected forest areas and the lack of number of Forestry guards who manage the protected forests, making the encroachment of the protected forests more rampant. In fact, there are already several hectares of the protected forests that no longer in have woody tree plants but vegetable or banana plantations instead.  The vegetable plantations have been going on for more than 10 years.

If the protected forests have turned into a vegetable or banana plantations, what is next? Obviously, it's against the law because they are encroaching on the forests illegally, but will enforcement action solve the problem? While the number of farmers who work on these forests    in an area can reach hundreds of local people and farming is their main livelihood.

Law enforcement of is not the only way to deal with these cases of protected forest encroachment involving hundreds of farmers. If law enforcement is fully implemented, then there will be thousands of farmers imprisoned. Social conflict will arise and may lead to the destruction of the remaining forests as backfire.   

The win-win solution that can be taken is to engage the farmers to restore the protected forest by switching crop commodities, from vegetable crops or bananas to fruit trees. Thus, farmers will be able to benefit economically from harvesting the fruits, but the function of the tree in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem can be reached.

PROFAUNA Indonesia collaborates with the farmers to restore the protected forests. And this collaboration has gained full support of by the Forestry Office in Malang that manages the protected Malang Raya. From 2020 to August 2021, there are 7 protected forest locations where farmers have agreed to change their vegetable crops or bananas to woody fruit trees.  The seven locations are in Area 212 Of Perinci Sub District, Area 191 in Wagir Village, Area 76 in Pringjowo Arjuna Slope, Area 73 Sengkeran of Slope of Arjuna, 2 blocks in Sendiki in Sumbermanjing Wetan and Apusan protected forest in Sumbermanjing Wetan District.

National Nature Conservation Day Prize

Recently, farmers who have stated that they are ready to restore the protected forests on the slopes of Mount Arjuna are farmers who work on Area 76 Pringjowo which is at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level.  The farmer's statement to restore the protected forest was signed by 5 farmers on Agustus 10, 2021; coinciding the National Nature Conservation Day.   The signing was also attended by the officials of Raden Soerjo Forest Park, Malang Forestry, Forest Village Community, and PROFAUNA Indonesia.

Mr. Choir Mauluna, head of the R Soerjo Forest Park, said, "We are happy if the protected forest under the management of the Forestry Office can be restored as a protected forest, because its location is bordered by the area of R Soerjo conservation areas. Let's prevent the forest encroachment or forest conversion into plantation!"

To facilitate the coordination, forest farmers who work on the land in Pringjowo area formed a group led by Mr. Imam Safii, a resident of Sidomulyo, Batu City. Mr. Safii said,"I hope that in the next 5 years, the forest will be restored, and farmers can harvest the fruits, so that they no longer grow vegetables. On the edge of the farm, we will also plant large trees such as breadfruit trees."

The willingness of forest farmers to stop the expansion of forest conversion into agricultural land    and start the forest rehabilitation, it is due to the intensive efforts of PROFAUNA Indonesia which takes a humanist approach to farmers. 

 "In terms of forest conservation, local communities such as forest farmers must be engaged to become the main actors, not just as objects. Collaboration with various parties, including local communities, is the key to the success of forest rehabilitation programs," said Rosek Nursahid, Founder of PROFAUNA Indonesia.

PROFAUNA Indonesia's assistance to forest farmers will not end to the signing of a protected forest rehabilitation agreement but will also help with fruit tree seeds and forest trees. The help of tree seedlings will also involve the public participation through the tree adoption program.

"We thank PROFAUNA for helping us in restoring the protected forests that have been converted into by agriculture farms.  Profauna's assistance is very helpful for forest conservation efforts in our work area," said Bambang Setiyono from Junggo Forestry Office.

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ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats