Indonesia - 10 July, 2021
As a hydrological unit between Pawan River and Kepulu River which covers the areas of the villages of Sungai Pelang, Sungai Besar, Sungai Bakau, and Pematang Gadung, as well as several other villages in Matan Hilir Selatan District, Ketapang Regency, the peat area of Pelang has not only strategic values for cultivation function, but also for protection function which is important for the sustainability of this area. With such important functions, governance and development of this area have been in concerns for various parties, which have poured various efforts to develop while also protecting this area.
A multi-stakeholder discussion on the governance and development of the landscape was held in Ketapang on Friday, July 9, 2021, organized by Tropenbos Indonesia and Ketapang Regency Government in collaboration with the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). A number of issues raised during the discussion included prevention of forest and land fires, construction of canal blocks and a fire post, preparation of a task force team, boundaries-setting between villages, management of village forest and community forest, plantation management by companies and independent smallholders, construction of processing factories of oil palm, and a number of development plans in this area such as airport relocation, construction of fish ponds along the coast, development of food estates, and handling of gold mining.
Among these various issues, one of the issues that continues to be a major problem for the Pelang Landscape is the vulnerability of this area to fire hazards. So far a number of control efforts have been made, but when the dry season arrives, the fires continue to occur. As a contribution to fire control efforts in the region, Tropenbos Indonesia has also carried out a number of activities which put more focus on fire prevention efforts. "This is in accordance with President Jokowi's recommendation that we must emphasize the 'prevention' aspect rather than 'controlling’ aspect of the fires," said Edi Purwanto, Director of Tropenbos Indonesia at his opening remark.
According to Herry Yogaswara, Head of the Population Research Center of LIPI, it is good that research results carried out in Pelang Landscape can be used to support the development planning of this area. “It should become a tradition so that academic activities can contribute to development activities. Not only science for science but also science for policy," he said. Having the same opinion, Donatus Rantan of TP3D Ketapang Regency said, a plan or a major work, needs to be preceded by research and planning so that it is based on accurate and updated data, and the decisions made are not only based on data on paper, but based on data and facts in the field.
According to Donatus, the peat hydrological area of Pelang Landscape which has a depth of 8-12 meters is often hit by fires during the dry season and requires attention. Various problems appear as the impact because there is also a main road passing through this area that serves to connect rural and urban areas so that every time the fires occur, community activities are automatically disturbed. The deep peat areas also cause controlling fires becomes more difficult once it occurs.
Donatus hopes that sustainable governance can be realized in Pelang Landscape and activities will not only stop at research. He sees that currently the cooperation between the three pillars of development support in this region - the government as policy maker, the private sector as the owner of capital and job provider, and the community including farmers, NGOs, academics, and so on - has been working in harmony. For that, according to him, it is very important to build bridges between the parties to jointly contribute to development. "Seeing the vision and mission of Ketapang Regency, the support of the parties is very much needed," he said.
A number of actions contributed by Tropenbos Indonesia to date include conducting stakeholder mapping, facilitating the establishment of an inter-village forum for fire protection (Formad Lingkari), providing training and implementation of smart patrols for youth, development of actions plan, building some research scale canal blocking and conducting surveys to assess areas with and without canal blocking. In addition to fire prevention efforts, TI also encourages efforts to stimulate the economy of communities that have climate-friendly businesses through KURRI, the Competition of Small Scale Climate Friendly Businesses, strengthening small farmer groups through business diversification, increasing their capacity through Field Schools, assistance to obtain forest management rights through Social Forestry scheme and several other activities.
Around 30 participants took part in this event offline and 15 participants online, including representative officials/staff from various government institutions such as Bappeda, Balitbangda Ketapang, Department of Public Works and Spatial Planning, Livestock and Plantation Agency - Distanakbun, the Agency of Public Housing for Residential Areas and Environment - PerkimLH, Transportation Agency, Community Empowerment and Village Government Agency, Village Governments in Pelang Landscape, as well as representatives from private companies such as PT Limpah Sejahtera and PT Artu Energi Resources.