Webinar series “Managing the Remaining Forests” series#21 Learning to Solve Social Forestry Conflicts

Webinar series “Managing the Remaining Forests” series#21 Learning to Solve Social Forestry Conflicts

Indonesia - 26 July, 2021

As part of the government's efforts to find solution to problems of tenure rights and provide increased welfare for the community through Social Forestry (SF) program, various challenges still appear including the emergence of various conflicts. "Conflict often exists because it is an inseparable part of human life, something that naturally happens, including in the context of SF," said Swary Utami Dewi - Member of TP2PS KLHK/Board Kawal Borneo. Conflicts in SF can occur starting from the proposal process to obtain the approval for management permit or event after the SF permit has been issued. "We cannot predict when this conflict will occur, it can abruptly appear, it can also be something that has been hidden for a long time and then emerges," she added.

According to Swary, conflict usually occurs because of differences in interests between individuals or between groups and can be horizontal or vertical, or a mixture of both. SF conflicts are often more of a social conflict type, for example, conflicts between a group of farmers who has obtained SF permit, or with other village communities who do not agree, or with companies. Just like two sides of a coin, every conflict, according to her, has two sides, namely positive and negative dimensions. Positive because it allows for changes/improvements to occur when resolved properly, provides space for reflection for the conflicting parties, makes the parties know themselves and their groups better, and unite them. On the other hand, conflict has also the potential to destroy, demotivate, and cause separation if it cannot be managed/resolved.

With these two sides, according to Swary, the most logical choice is to look at the positive side of the conflict, face it, and not run away. “The settlement or mediation or resolution will provide an opportunity for the conflict to be resolved properly. So, when there is a conflict, identify it, manage it, and resolve it,” she said. In addition, the conflicting parties must have the courage to get out of their comfort zone, and have a strong will to learn from the dynamic conflict process. However, despite hoping for the best, they must also prepare for any unexpected results.

To increase the chances of successful conflict resolution, Swary offers a heart approach, a humanistic approach that has sensitivity to understand and sympathize, prioritizes the willingness and ability to open up and embrace, dare to be open to differences and changes for the better, and prioritize humbleness and good purpose. "This humanistic approach is often forgotten when dealing with conflict," she said. But in fact, through this careful approach, common ground can usually be found from the two conflicting parties. Not always relying solely on brain intelligence, the heart approach requires interpersonal intelligence, sensitivity, and the ability to 'embrace' the opponents to obtain better goals. "Use intuition, heart, combined with logic and various approaches and strategies to resolve conflicts," she said.

According to Mangara Silalahi, President Director of PT REKI, which has the permit to manage Hutan Harapan in South Sumatra covering an area of ​​approximately 100,000 ha since 2007, conflicts occur due to the fighting for space between communities (natives and migrants/migrants), or between communities and companies. For this reason, it is necessary to have policies and safeguards applied by the company. In the management of Hutan Harapan, the policies and safeguards adopted are based on the Introduction to Conservation and Human Rights for Birdlife Partners, and the 2015 Human Rights and Social Engagement Commitment (HARSEC). “It is important because one policy will be followed by the preparation of administrative bureaucracy, human resources, and financing to ensure that everything is on track," he said.

Mangara said, to reduce and minimize conflicts, the company also developed procedures and manuals including, for example, SOP PM (standard operating procedure of participatory mapping), and SOP for recognition of rights and area management by indigenous peoples. Usually the conflict resolution approach is prioritized because it has a positive influence on corporate image, but if it doesn't work, the company can take litigation act. In addition, mediation is also needed not only through formal communication but also through informal communication. "Gakkum is the last resort for handling land conflicts," he said. From time to time more challenges faced in conflicts because the population is increasing while the land is fixed.

Conflicts also occur when business interests clash with conservation interests. It can be seen in Tropenbos Indonesia's worksite in peatland area of Pelang Landscape, in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, where three villages have had Village Forest permits: Sungai Pelang, Sungai Besar, and Pematang Gadung. "The existence of Pematang Gadung village forest, for instance, is often still considered a barrier to the expansion of illegal gold mining operating in this area," said Edi Purwanto, Director of Tropenbos Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Gamin, Widyaiswara Associate Expert of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) presented materials on the resolution of Social Forestry conflicts through participatory mapping and gave a number of conflict resolution examples through participatory mapping based on his experience in mapping conflicts in South Sumatra, West Java, Kalimantan and NTB. Meanwhile, Hery Santoso, Agrarian and Social Forestry Consultant gave a presentation entitled "Redistribution of Control over Areas, Plants, and Labor in PS: Conflict of Interest between Community and State".

As part of the webinar series “Managing the Remaining Forests” which this time entitled "Learning to Solve Social Forestry Conflicts" took place on Saturday, July 24, 2021, attended by more than 400 participants.

The presentations available for download HERE

You can watch the full webinar in the following link: