Indonesia - 04 March, 2020
When forests are increasingly being eroded by the development of HGU concession areas, conservation of springs in the forest becomes a more important issue. That can be seen from the joint efforts done by Laman Satong village community in Ketapang Regency to protect their forests. In the village adjacent to Gunung Palung National Park (GPNP) and oil palm plantation areas, the community gets clean water from a spring that originates from Manjau Village Forest, Laman Satong. They also get clean water from the Siduk River which spring is located in the GPNP area used for daily needs and is a source of irrigation water for rice fields in the District of Matan Hilir Utara. The community also collects rainwater when the rainy season arrives. But in the long dry season, the water also dries up. The situation is getting worse when there is a forest fire. The water that should have been abundant in the village reservoir at the foot of the Kalas Kumpang hill in the Manjau Village Forest, also dried up. Water that should be abundant in this reservoir is now allegedly flowing to the canals of oil palm plantations and no longer wet peatlands around the village forest.
Some people in Laman Satong village are nucleus and plasma farmers from nearby oil palm companies. There are also independent smallholders. Some others still live from farming by burning land. Their activities are vulnerable to forest sustainability and this condition has driven the efforts of various parties including the village government, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), GPNP Agency, and the National Peatland Restoration Agency, to make various efforts, particularly awareness campaign on the importance of rehabilitation of springs, either at the spring site or at the catchment area.
In 2018, Tropenbos Indonesia (TI) with a number of other institutions which are members of the Sagupa forum (including TNGP, PT KAL, and several NGOs) initiated the idea of a tourism village and facilitated the formation of a "Beringin” tourism group (Pokdarwis) consisting of residents of Laman Satong. Not only as an alternative livelihood for the community through ecotourism activities, in this way it is expected that awareness on the importance of forest rehabilitation as a buffer zone will also increase and inspire the community to protect forest, including preventing forest fires. As the main corridor of the village forest and GPNP that connects the habitat of orangutans, birds and other animals, this tourist location can also be a destination for people who want to enjoy the beauty of Laman Besolek waterfall, located on the border of Ketapang and Kayong Utara districts, about 4-5 km from the center of Laman Satong Village.
This initiation continued when the GPNP proposal for economic revitalization in land use through the development of Riam Berasap ecotourism was approved and the Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) provided Rp100 million fund, which was used to purchase ecotourism equipment for tubing, tracking and camping ground, and tires for swimming children. TI also contributed to providing tubing equipment and life vests as complementary attributes. Together with Pokdarwis and the Tourism Office, TI also provided uniform shirts for Pokdarwis members and the palm oil company PT KAL made donations in the form of sand and stones to repair roads, built changing rooms and toilets, as well as hardened the land road around the entrance heading to Laman Besolek. In addition, a guard post at the entrance to the waterfall was also successfully built through collected funds from several parties (including PLN's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund amounting Rp.70 million, and Pokdarwis member cash Rp.3 million). More complete and adequate facilities make this tourist area more attractive for both domestic and foreign tourists.
The tourism guide association HPI, an ecotourism management agency continued the development of Laman Besolek ecotourism by holding the promotion through various media, posters, travel agents, and workshops in districts and sub-districts, which invited village government, community leader, staff and guests from various institutions (government agencies, private companies, NGOs) as well as nature lover groups in Ketapang and Kayong Utara Regencies. This intensive promotion succeeded in attracting many parties to visit. In 2019 the Faculty of Environmental Engineering at Tarumanegara University funded its students to visit and conduct a site design study in the development of community economic facilities.
Echoing further the promotion of Laman Besolek tourism, at the end of 2019, TI together with Pokdarwis and various parties held an Ecotourism Workshop which was attended by GPNP and the Department of Tourism and other stakeholders. One of the meeting result was a commitment from the Tourism Office to allocate development funds in 2021.
Meanwhile, until the end of 2020, Laman Besolek will continue to beautify themselves to be more attractive to tourists. Communities together with GPNP staff and other institutions often plant trees on degraded lands, especially those on the edge of the road leading to Laman Besolek. The community realizes that the effort to beautify this area is not only part of the efforts to develop ecotourism that can increase local community’s income, but also a part of the efforts to preserve buffer zones and environmental service providers, especially to ensure the availability of clean water for their villages.
Stages of facilitation for the development of Laman Besolek ecotourism:
(a) Expedition to determine ecotourism route with partners, communities and village government
(b) FGD with GPNP, various NGOs, and community groups to understand ecotourism issues in relation to the economy of rural communities;
(c) Socialization and establishment of Pokdarwis;
(d) Agreement on various forms of tourism-activity models to be developed;
(e) Facilitating tubing and tracking equipment by submitting a proposal to BRG done by GPNP
(f) Facilitating Pokdarwis members to be part of tour guide group;
(g) Facilitating the preparation of Pokdarwis AD/ART;
(h) Facilitating Pokdarwis management training;
(i) Facilitating bookkeeping of Pokdarwis financial administration;
(j) Facilitating the formulation of Pokdarwis management;
(k) Facilitating the painting of Laman Besolek gate;
(l) Facilitating the establishment of a tourist village gate;
(m) As an exit strategy: HPI as the agency/agent in tourism promotion and marketing;
(n) Encourage commitment for collaboration contracts between District Governments, GPNP, villages and Pokdarwis.