12 Jan 2023
Setawar Village in Sekadau District, West Kalimantan Province, has a customary forest area that has been preserved by community members for generations. They depend heavily on the forest for food and shelter. Tembawang is an agroforestry system that has been practiced by the indigenous Dayak community of West Kalimantan since the time of their forefathers.
They practice tembawang as a part of their traditional shifting cultivation. They plant fruit trees, timber trees, spices, and medicinal herbs on a land before they depart. In the forest, medicinal herbs are widely applied. Tools for farming are made of rattan. According to the rules of tribal law, only a small amount of timber may be used to build houses.
There were, however, some violations. Some people were logging under the guise of building a house. As a result, the customary forest area was once closed to ensure that it was not cultivated improperly and that too much timber was not taken.
“People used to get allowances in the past that those who don’t have a house are permitted to cut down one tree for construction materials if they want to build a house. But then many have misused this concession so that in recent years they have not been permitted to take wood from the forest at all”, said a resident, Mojes, as quoted on July 21, 2019 by Suara Kalbar in an article entitled “Setawar Sekadau Village Owns an Area of Customary Forest 151 Hectares”.
Forest conservation activities require a solid legal foundation to address violations because they currently only rely on verbal customary agreements. In accordance with this written regulation, those who violate the provisions of custom may be subject to both civil and criminal penalties.
SPOS Indonesia, in collaboration with KEHATI and Palm Oil Farmers Union (known as SPKS: Serikat Petani Kelapa Sawit) as partners in the field, encouraged villagers to protect the forest and facilitated the formation of Village Regulations Concerning Forest Protection.
Oral Customary Law Became Written Law.
On October 4, 2021, the Village Customary Forest Regulation No. 6 of 2021 was passed to strengthen the protection status of the 286 hectares of the village’s customary forest, which is made up of three jungles: the 96-hectare Jundak Hill in Gintong village, the 171-hectare Engkulok Rimba in Setawar village, and the 19-hectare Geradok Rimba in Sejaong village.
The response to the conservation programs was favorable. The local population, which is predominately made up of individual oil palm planters, has also taken the initiative to keep their customary forest intact.
With the assistance of PT Agro Andalan, this community outreach has been conducted. The customary forest area in Setawar Village is owned by this corporation, along with a concession area.
The culmination of collaboration between SPOS Indonesia – KEHATI, SPKS, PT. Agro Andalan, and the Regional Government of Sekadau Regency in February 2022 resulted in a declaration with two points of agreement.
First, in order to preserve the existence of the conservation area and Indigenous People’s Forest, PT Agro Andalan and the Palm Oil Farmers Union (SPKS) agreed and are willing to jointly protect and preserve the existence of a conservation area, high conservation value, high carbon stock forests, and indigenous people’s forests through the Setawar Village Government.
Second, PT. Agro Andalan and Palm Oil Farmers Union (SPKS) are dedicated to improve human resource capacity of the villagers and oil palm farmers in an effort to achieve sustainable oil palm plantation management in accordance with the principles and criteria of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil), as well as applicable procedures and laws.
“The proposed customary forest is an area outside of the protected forest. As a result, the residents of Setawar village have a right that must be preserved for future generations. It is our collective responsibility to preserve customary forests”, said the Head of the Sekadau Regency Agriculture and Fisheries Food Security Service (DKP3), as reported by Suara Borneo in his report titled “Declaration of Setawar Village Indigenous Forests” on February 24, 2022.
RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) is a certifying body for sustainable palm oil production. This agency regulates stakeholders in seven industrial sectors related to the production, processing, and sale of palm oil.
ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil) is a practical measure taken by the Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, to foster the expansion of the nation’s palm oil industry while minimizing the environmental impact that are brought on by this sector. Many conditions for clearing and processing oil palm land in Indonesia are directly regulated by ISPO.
SPOS Indonesia Program – KEHATI, in collaboration with SPKS Sekadau District, is present in Setawar village, carrying out a variety of activities with the community and independent oil palm farmers, including training and mentoring on sustainable oil palm plantation management.
Moreover, Piansak Mandiri farmer cooperative was established to support other agricultural institutions. This task was accomplished in association with PT Agro Andalan. Independent farmers are also encouraged to participate in ISPO and RSPO certification through the SPOS Indonesia initiative.