Forest for the Community
The Marena customary community work together with a company in managing the Marena Customary Forest.
PIETER Kadang, 71, repeatedly inspected the forest to make sure that the white buckets filled with pine sap—owned by Adi Mitra Pinus Utama—found throughout the Marena Forest in the Enrekang Regency, South Sulawesi, were undisturbed. According to the Marena customary leader, his people would never upset the company’s pine sap harvesting. “If there is theft, customary law will be implemented,” said Pieter not long ago.
Pieter believes that customary laws effectively encourage the community to preserve the Marena Forest. It is also thanks to the customary council and laws that the Marena community has been granted the right to manage their forest by the environment and forestry ministry on July 10, 2018. Because of the ministry’s recognition, the community now has access to the pine forest, which had previously been closed off by forest rangers for decades.
The Marena customary forest lies on the border of Pekalobean and Singki villages in the Anggareja subdistrict, Enrekang—260 kilometers and 5 to 6 hours away from the city of Makassar on land. The forest lies on an elevation of 1,100 meters above sea level and is dominated by pine trees. Last year, the forestry ministry recognized the 155-hectare forest as the Marena community’s customary forest, with both protected and production forest areas.
After the forestry minister’s decree, Pieter immediately discussed production forest management concepts with the customary council and Adi Mitra Pinus Utama. According to him, the customary council welcomes a partnership in managing the area of forest included in its territory.
“Before the discussion, we did not want to trouble the company. But the ancestors’ land must be safeguarded to prevent landslides and deforestation,” said the customary leader.
Darji, Singki village chief, was worried that the community forest status would be rejected because the area falls under production and protected forest areas. But, as it turned out, mapping the forest and processing documentation for the customary council—both of which are requirements for requesting a customary forest status—were proceeded quickly. The process only took one year to finish. At this time, said Darji, villagers are discussing various innovative practices, such as planting between pine trees and ecotourism. “What’s most important is that our children must understand how to preserve this customary forest,” said the 47-year-old man.
Chairman of the South Sulawesi Alliance of Customary Communities, Sardi Rasak, added that the request for a customary forest status was initially meant to return customary rights over the Marena Forest to the community. With a customary forest status, said Sardi, the council has the authority to renegotiate with the company in managing the forest, including managing potential plants such as coffee, cacao, durian and secondary crops. “All of it has been planted among the pine trees,” he said.
Hamsir, member of the Enrekang Regency Government Committee for Customary Law Communities, said the customary forest status helps the government preserve forests. He also hopes that the status will give the community economic benefits and added values to products, to complement the people’s earnings from cultivating shallots.
“Whether later [the community] will function independently or collaborate with a company, what’s certain is that the forest may not be damaged and [it] can help improve the community’s economy,” said Hamsir. He added that the people’s earnings from planting shallots have reached Rp200 million per hectare, with only Rp20 million per hectare in costs.
Adi Mitra Pinus Utama spokesperson Ivan Andrimulya Kusno said the company is planning to extend its contract for pine sap harvesting [with the regional government] after the Marena Forest’s customary forest status was granted. He also welcomes the idea of a collaborative management of the forest with the customary community. “A partnership is not a problem for us,” said Ivan.
What Lies Above the Saddang River
The environment and forestry ministry has declared the Marena Forest as a customary forest. The forest holds economic and local wisdom potentials for the benefit of conservation.
Name of forest: Marena Customary Community Forest
Province: South Sulawesi
Rules: Marena Customary Law Community
Assistance provider: South Sulawesi Alliance of Customary Communities
Offtaker: Enrekang Alliance of Customary Communities
Area of Claimed Customary Forest
•Customary forest area (protected forest): 68.45 hectares
• Customary forest area (production forest): 80.95 hectares
• Total customary forest claimed: 149.41 hectares
• Total customary forest area realized: 155 hectares
Customary community status
1. Enrekang Regency Government’s recognition through Regional Regulation No. 1/2016 on the Guidelines for the Recognition and Protection of the Enrekang Regency Customary Community.
2. Enrekang Regency Decree Letter No. 155/KEP/11/2018 on the Marena Community’s Declaration as a Unified Customary Law Community
Forestry customary law: Pepasan To Jolo
•Make use of wood that is ready to use, but do not cut trees that are still young or cannot yet be utilized.
•Do not go into the forest and cut trees at will because the forest will be destroyed and water sources will be damaged.
•It is forbidden to carry a dead body over a spring
•It is forbidden to plant corn and tuber plants on customary land. Violators will be banned from eating goat and horse meat.
SOURCES PROCESSED BY TEMPO | ARKHELAUS WISNU
Deliberate Before Logging
THE Marena customary community has its methods for conserving its forest. Marena’s customary leader, Pieter Kadang, said the community has a system of taboos that governs behaviors between people as well as forest conservation.
“There are laws for the forest. If a resident is caught felling a tree without the knowledge of the customary council, he will be punished,” said Pieter in the Pekalobean village, Enrekang Regency, South Sulawesi.
Pieter explained that someone who has been caught logging will be asked to leave the Marena customary area and declare the timber as the product of logging performed without the knowledge of the customary council. Furthermore, there are sanctions for those who cut trees and clear land by burning in the forest. “For burning, the person must butcher a buffalo and present it to the community,” he said.
Because of these laws and sanctions, said the 71-year-old man, all forms of forest management, both planting and logging for the purpose of building homes, must be performed with the knowledge of the customary community and deliberated on beforehand.
This customary system is effective for preserving the forest area, which has only received the environment and forestry ministry’s recognition as a customary forest area, in July 2018. Pieter said the Marena community sees the forest as a mother figure. “Because water always flows from there. In the protected forest there is timber and water sources for our livelihood, which is why protection is necessary,” he said. This way of seeing is why the community often performs a thanksgiving ritual before and after the planting season.