Sustainable landscapes in Indonesia depend on good governance, study finds
Indonesia’s positive experience with decentralized land management over the past decades underscores the importance of enabling governance to reconcile competing interests that hamper the sustainability of landscapes, according to a recent analysis by a team of scientists.
Biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being in forest landscapes depend on the success of integrated landscape approaches. Practitioners must adapt their strategies to local priorities and align their land use planning actions with current policy.
Integrated landscape approaches are vital to take into account social, environmental and political differences between stakeholders involved in land management around the world. The strategic approach aims to make improvements in governance to support the achievement of the UN Sustainable development goals.
As competition for land intensifies in Indonesia, such techniques for achieving sustainability are also expected to increase, according to the study, which highlights that greater engagement of civil society and recognition of human rights and responsibilities. customary management have had a positive impact on the prospects for success.
Seven of the eight cases the researchers examined reported improvements in governance as a result of the Landscape Approach initiative.
Decision-making that affects landscapes is rarely motivated solely by ecological considerations, but is more likely to be the product of political and business interests as well as cultural and development needs, according to the authors.
In Indonesia, the collaborative landscape approach – involving multiple stakeholders, actors and levels of governance – follows a long history of conservation approaches, which have met with varying degrees of success. During the 1970s and 1980s, about 22 percent of the country’s land surface was allocated to national parks and other protected areas. In the 1990s, Indonesia’s focus on conservation spread to other areas.
However, when the country decentralized its governance system from 1998, lower level institutions lacked the capacity to resist special interest groups and their influence on local decision-making. With competing land uses and overlapping laws, forests were increasingly converted to oil palms, as peatland fires burned, air pollution worsened and biodiversity was lost.
“As we are seeing in Indonesia, these issues can be addressed through an integrated landscape approach that involves government, non-government and private actors at different scales,” said Ani Adiwinata, a CIFOR scientist who contributed to the study. “With strengthened institutional capacity, standardized land use mapping and the development of social forestry programs, good governance is essential to progress towards better conservation outcomes. “
Through questionnaires and follow-up discussions over a three-year period, participants in the Scientist-Reviewed Integrated Landscape Initiative provided information on the strengths and challenges of such programs in landscapes ranging from peri-urban ( Gunung Kidul, Java) to plantations (Kampar Peninsula, East Sumatra) to mosaic (Kelola Sendang, South Sumatra) and natural mountain forests (Mbeliling, East Nusa Tenggara).
A program at Gunung Kidul is part of the Kanoppi project and involves a unique karst landscape characterized by high biodiversity as well as an underground system of springs and aquifers. The management of this natural wonder must take into account a range of stakeholders, including communities, industries and government, said Adiwinata.
All the initiatives evaluated by the researchers identified a need to operate beyond the usual limits of conservation programs, and attempted to involve several sectoral government agencies, communities, traditional (Adat) executives, private companies and other stakeholders. This was usually done by forming governing bodies that reflected the diversity of the participants. Successful initiatives have sought to forge a common vision and integrate local preferences to achieve goals.
“While a shared vision can help bring stakeholders together, it’s finding ways to overcome challenges and make progress that are most important – and also the most difficult,” said Rebecca Riggs, researcher at Faculty of Forestry at UBC who was the lead author of the study. “Stakeholders may have their own goals that override the concerns of others. Dealing with these compromises is the raison d’être of consensus building. “
Other challenges were also reported among the eight initiatives. In areas of intense competition for land – in Kapuas Hulu (West Kalimantan), Ketapang (West Kalimantan) and Kelola Sendang – there was no middleman to guide landscape decisions. This makes environmental degradation more likely, as no government agency in Indonesia decides on the allocation and planning of land use, allowing powerful alliances to dictate behavior, such as illegal land clearing. land.
“There are two main things that influence improvements in governance – what is happening in the landscape, as well as the more general conditions that exist at regional, national or international levels,” said Riggs. “A favorable policy is really important to support the governance of the landscape. This includes legislation and funding that encourage intersectoral collaboration.
Lessons learned from this study may also be relevant for other countries seeking to implement integrated landscape approaches, according to Riggs. There are opportunities for companies to play a leading role in achieving production and conservation goals in the landscapes where they operate.
“The way the initiatives engage in international partnerships shows that learning between countries is already underway,” said Riggs. “Landscape practitioners in Indonesia are contributing to the growing understanding of integrated landscape approaches globally. “
The study was funded in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The Kanoppi project was supported by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and was part of the CGIAR’s Forests, Trees and Agroforestry Research Program, which is supported by donors to the CGIAR Fund.
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