Community-based Fire Management in East Kalimantan, Indonesia

The unstable weather patterns and intensive logging have turned East Kalimantan, Indonesia into a fire hazard. Local people suffer physically, economically and culturally in the increasing forest fires. This case study examines the community forestry management approach to the forest fires in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. It explores the current tenure system with the legal and illegal methods of deforestation used annually, encompassing the various stakeholders that are involved, including the government and the indigenous community, and the transition into community forestry in the East Kalimantan region. This case study also looks at the tenure arrangements and roles of various stakeholders in the region's forestry regime. We suggest ways of implementing a better administration involving community forestry to counter the annual forest fires that have mostly resulted from the illegal deforestation.

East Kalimantan has the second least dense population among provinces in Kalimantan, Indonesia. It has a population of about 3.5 million[1]. The capital city is Samarinda. Located along the Southeastern coast, East Kalimantan is one of the main gateways of Indonesia. It has a total area of 129,066.64 square kilometers[1]. Until 2012, East Kalimantan was divided into 10 regencies and 4 cities, subdivided into 103 districts and 1,026 villages[1].

In general, East Kalimantan has a typical tropical climate and has two seasons, dry and wet seasons. The dry season ranges from May to October, while the rainy season from November to April[1]. Geographically, hills occupy almost all districts, and there are a lot of water bodies including lakes and streams[1]. Moreover, because the equator crosses through East Kalimantan, the climate is also heavily affected by wind monsoon, which is west from November to April and east from May to October[1]. In recent years, the seasons in East Kalimantan have become unstable. In the months that it is supposed to rain, there is no rain at all, which causes drought, and it rains longer in the dry period[1]. This abnormal weather pattern contributes to the increasing rate of natural disasters.

East Kalimantan's economy heavily depends on natural resources such as oilfield exploration, natural gas, coal and gold. For indigenous people, their earnings are based on the mode of small-holder economy of crops, timber and non-timber forest products. Therefore, once fires occur in agroforested or agricultural land, the damage caused to each family unit is tremendous. Since the Indonesia Coal Boom in 2000, coal mining have been driving the local economies. Governments welcomed coal mines developed and owned by foreign mining companies because more revenue will be earned. There are various group of indigenous people living in East Kalimantan.The most populous ethnic group in East Kalimantan is the Javanese (29.55%)[1] which is spread in almost all regions, especially the transmigration areas to urban areas. The second largest ethnic are named Bugis (18.26%), followed by Banjar (13.94%)[1]. Dayak (9.91%) and Kutai (9.21%) are mostly located in the interior and the Kutai areas[1]

As a result of decentralization in Indonesia during the late 1960’s, there were fast advances in forest tenure, focusing on local biodiversity and Indigenous rights that resulted in more efficient resource use[2]. But in spite of this and the increasing acknowledgement of community forestry, schemes implemented in the state forest area only gave partial forest management rights to the local population[2]. Forest tenure rights, according to Indonesia's regulations, involve different types of property rights over resources consisting of access, withdrawal, management, exclusion and alienation rights[2]. Land tenure rights were not given to local people, so the Ministry of Environment and Forestry committed to increasing the area of Community Forestry but as of 2014 the total area is only 1.4 million ha[2]. During this time of decentralization, the local method of logging that was used by many small firms and families called Banjir Kap was implemented, which was perceived as a threat to large-scale concessionaires’ control over the timber markets[3]. This was banned in 1971, after which it was done illegally[3].

IPPKS (Izin Pemungutan dan Pemanfaatan Kayu) was introduced as a response to political pressures generated by the fall of Suharto, to decentralize the forestry management systems and to increase the participation and benefits derived by local populations[3]. Small forest concessions permits were issued. In 2002 the Government Regulation 34 was introduced, claiming the government’s sole authority over forests and the invalidity of IPPKs henceforth[3]. Local community members earned lower incomes with this new regime than they did in the banjir kap system, where they only earned approximately 7% of the revenue share as compared to the 24% earned by government officials[3]. These government officials further received payments to ignore illegal forest activities undertaken by the large concessionaires and contractors in these community forests[3].

Customary Right

Customary rights are important and put in place to recognize the tenure-boundaries that exist in forest management, and “how indigenous ways of organizing and allocating space might support or conflict with the objectives of forest protection.”[4] While in East Kalimantan the national law recognizes customary rights in forestry management, there is a lack of any scheme that represents any customary rights to the forested areas.[4] Additionally, the local community are not consulted during the preparation of tenurial maps, implying the lack of importance and recognition both they and their land receive, with any form of local disagreement being ignored.[4] There is a lack of data on any tenure agreements based on the forest area, denoting the conflict of interest between the government and the local people on the usage of the forested land[4]. With limited land and tenure rights, the members of the local community are impacted by lower revenues received from the decreased land shares they have. Customary rights and compensations are provided to the local community wherever applicable, but these earnings are far less when compared to other stakeholders involved.[3]

Chapter III of Article 9.2 states that in order for an applicant to have the right to run a plantation estate they need to ‘conduct a discussion with the customary law communities holding customary right upon the land in order to obtain an agreement on the utilization of the land and a fee for that utilization’[5]. But the recognition of the local community as a community part of and granted customary law is limited by the conditions of Article 9.2[5]. Their rights as customary law communities are only recognized if they can “obtain recognition from the district government in the form of a district regulation”[5]. With the conflicting restrictions in this article with other laws, there is an unclear stance on the rights of the customary communities[5].

Statutory Right

With the government under President Suharto’s rule, there was increased priority for military and army power, with the intent on “expanding military influence into all aspects of society.”[6] A small elite had controlled the nation, holding close ties to this military power[6]. But with the fall of the Suharto government, the elite lost this power, and there was an increase in unity of social grievances among the marginalised communities of the nation, namely the Indigenous people[6]. Under the new regime, the Indigenous groups started to form NGOs that could help fight for their land rights, while also “engaging in armed conflict that was ultimately over territory and resources.”[6]

In Indonesia there is a system of ‘Adat’ that is “a valid right recognised by Indonesian land law” and is also classified as Indigenous peoples’ rights, which the government has been obliged to recognise as part of entering international treaties dealing with these rights[6]. The word adat directly translates to ‘custom’ or ‘tradition’, dealing with a category of rights, but it is not strictly a law[6]. Although officially recognised, there are unclear definitions of adat rights and how to distinguish them from other land rights, resulting in conflict among the indigenous people and the government “and is hampered by poor or faulty implementation and proclamation.”[6] Adat is seen as more of a social system instead of a legal one, focusing on the individuals and their relations to the forest land.[6]

With government interference, given the lack of clarity in the adat system of land control, many have tried to and continue to hold on to their land, while some have lost their land and hope for the chance to regain their land.[6] The Indigenous community see the land as something they belong to, rather than the land being their possession, stating that it is their ancestral land and not land for the government to take away from them[6]. But “governments may therefore appropriate the concept of indigeneity and affiliate it to national identity,” taking away their land and placing it under government control[6]. There is a lack of legal documentation by the Indigenous groups in terms of their land possession, resulting in the land being part of state land[6]. But with the ancestral value it holds for them, they claim the land as theirs, registering the land only if the government “provides good conditions.”[6] The lack of proper statutory rights underlies the level of conflict that is there among the stakeholders of the land, with the government holding most power and the Indigenous people having limited power, not able to fight for the land that they claim.

Causes of Fires

There are several major causes of the fires happening in East Kalimantan. One of them is the increasing frequency of the natural disasters and unstable weather conditions. This results from the unstable climate. For example, when there is no rain for a long period of time in mid-summer to the end of autumn, the extreme drought will occur and increase the risk of wildfires significantly[7]. East Kalimantan is becoming increasingly vulnerable to fires partly because of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is a climate phenomenon which has irregular periodic fluctuation in winds and temperatures in the Pacific Ocean[8]. The 1997/98 Indonesia fire disaster was caused and exacerbated by the drought that ENSO brought about.

Also notable is that human activities also contribute to inducing fires indirectly and directly. For example, some Dayak communities usually use fire to do land-cleaning before planting new oil-palm or other agricultural crops[7]. These escaped small fires are likely to cause uncontrolled huge fires extending to the forests. After these small land-cleaning fires, sometimes the glow coal layer left on the ground will self-ignite and bring about larger fires[7].

Moreover, fire is closely related to community forest management issues. First, as fires are frequently used as a weapon, there are cases that local people commit arson when they have land-use conflicts between communities or groups[7]. There are cases that villagers living within or near the protected area set fires in retaliation to government or other tenure holders for the denied access to forests. Second, intensive logging activities by companies in East Kalimantan has made the forest and agroforests into risky forest hazards, where fires happen more frequently[9].

Impacts of Fires

Fire is considered the major threat to the development of East Kalimantan because of the impacts to locals' health, interruption of sea and airborne transportation, contribution to carbon emissions, crop failures and irreversible damage to ecosystems.

Take the 1997/98 fire, the most severe fire in Indonesia as an example, the huge fires affected around 11.7 million hectares of productive lands[10]. The situation was uncontrollable and far beyond the existing firefighting capacity. At the peak of the event, National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration, (NOAA) satellites pinpointed approximately 2,000 “hot spots” within the province[7]. Domestically, the economic loss resulting from forest degradation and deforestation was $1.62-2.7 billion[10]. The cost of smoke haze pollution the fire produced was $674-799 million[10]. The amount would increase to $2.8 million, if the affected residents' health status, transportation system and business activities were taken into account[10]. Moreover, the neighboring countries, such as Singapore and Malaysia were severely affected by the haze and smoke of the intensive fires. Local ecosystems also had been devastated because of the decreased forest cover and function. As a result, the endemic animals that managed to survive, such as orangutans, had to migrate to plantation areas[9]. This event is described as one of the century's worst environmental disasters[10].

Concerning the significant impacts fires had in East Kalimantan, the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia made "forest fires" as the one of the stated priorities[7]. However. communities living in and depending on forests rely on the traditional ways of managing forests and suppressing fires, which are not effective and sufficient. Moreover, the economic interests of government and some companies generally take priority over the need of local communities. To minimize this negative influence, an integrated method which combines indigenous knowledge with scientific fire management technologies was introduced to the local communities. Various activities have been conducted with the purpose of protecting and recovering forest cover and managing fires[9]. These activities require the cooperation of various levels of stakeholders and the application of reporting and feedback systems. Below are some cases of community-based fire management projects in East Kalimantan.

IFFM (Integrated Forest Fire Management)

Since 1994, the Integrated Forest Fire Management has been introduced by the provincial forestry department in supporting the fire management in East Kalimantan[7]. This project requires the cooperation among private holders, local communities and various agencies. It follows the basic principle of CBFiM(community-based fire management) and is jointly implemented by provincial forest service, local forest department (Dinas Kehutanan), and German Agency Technical Cooperation (GTZ)[7]. Participation of concession holders and local indigenous villages are also involved and benefited from the project. Now, over 70 villages in East Kalimantan are included in the IFFM programs, some of the villages are prioritized because they have higher rate of risky areas[7].

Administrative Arrangement

The IFFM project basically consists of three technical modules: fire information, prevention and operation, implementing by three governance levels[7]:

Provincial Level:

The main management service organization of Samarinda province located in Dinas Kehutanan[7]. It mainly serves as an information-gathering core because all the original fire data is gathered and sorted in this organization. Hotspots' locations within the province are identified using the fire danger-rating index data[7]. This can be recorded and produced into fire-risk maps, which facilitates the work of district prevention campaigns. Fire-risk maps distinguish five risk rankings based on the information of previous fire events, land use categories and natural resource quality (as shown in the figure the right)[7]. This information map will be updated monthly and available in district and village level.

Moreover, the main management service organization is in charge of the training of the staff in district prevention office and local campaigns[7]. They offer guidance on how to use and preserve the fire-fighting tools. For example, IFFM project holds "Training for Trainers" curriculum for district/village level leaders as well as the extension workers[7].

District Level:

There are local fire centers at 10 district forest offices together with Kutai and Kanyan National Parks[7]. They are equipped with firefighting devices (pumps, hand tools, vehicles and computers). District fire-fighting crews are owned and trained by each district office on how to choose and use appropriate tools in different fires. Following a training manual created and published by the management service organization in 2002, the training also targets forestry staff and village leaders[7]. Based on this, fire-fighting crews directly support fire prevention and the operation of IFFM in the fields. Furthermore, local fire centers facilitate platforms for the communication and cooperation of village leaders, extension workers and concession holders in information and tool exchanges.

Village Level:

Volunteer fire brigades made up of local villagers are organized and trained for the purpose of suppressing small fires and promote safe-burning practices in each household[7]. The crew develops their own Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs) and apply for budget from each village administration[7].

There are more than 100 "tool boxes" in the storage room at each village, and village crews are responsible for allocating, maintaining and repairing these hand tools[7]. At village level, these traditional tools (such as machetes and bamboo pumps) are extremely important in an emergency because they are the most light and easy to apply when encountering frequent grass fires and safeguarding the private/ communal cropland[7].

In addition, staff from local centers and NGOs engage villagers in fire-fighting and environmental education by offering 1-day participatory workshop and annual/monthly discussion forums in some villages[7]. These workshops are to raise villagers’ awareness of the negative impacts of fires and the significance of CBFiM. In the meantime, leaflets, posters, and stickers about fire prevention are presented in these training events and the bulletin board in each villages. What's more, communication between villages are also important. So the IFFM project holds meetings among different villages, where they can discuss previous fire prevention experiences and identifying common interests[7].

Reporting System:

KBDI (The Keetch Byram Drought Index) is an early warning system introduced by IFFM[7]. Basically, it is a meteorological service which uses index data to classify early fires into low, moderate, high and extreme categories[7]. Based on the evaluation of KBDI they receive on a regular basis, the district/ village fire crews can prevent potentially drought-induced fires or suppress early fires.

Notably, communication system is vital while transporting the warning information by KBDI. Satellite telephones and short-range radio systems are used as the two most basic communication methods in East Kalimantan[9]. Early warning messages are sent from local fire centers to each village within communication range. Often these messages are reported from one village to the other following a fixed sequence[7]. In some remote areas when the connection of telephone and radio are not good, field workers of the forestry services can help broadcast the information during emergent fire dangers[7]. Likewise, all observation by local residents or field workers can be reported to the fire centers and recorded by the provincial and district forest services.

CARE DISPRE Approach (DISaster PREparedness)

CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) is a humanitarian organization which aims at delivering long-term development programs all over the world[11]. Since the 1997/98 disaster, East Kalimantan has witnessed repeated crop failures caused by fire and the degrading forest ecosystem caused by over exploitation[12]. Local people were forced to alternative livelihoods or remain jobless[13].Thus, CARE carried out disaster-management program named CARE DISPRE Approach (DISaster PREparedness) to cope with frequent wildfires as well as other natural hazards.

Goal and Principles

CARE defines that vulnerability as a long-term ability of a community to respond to events and recover from its susceptibility[12]. Vulnerabilities contribute severity of calamities and impede effective response during disasters and recovery after that. They believe the vulnerabilities of East Kalimantan communities are more enduring because of increasing conflicts over forest resources and a lack of regulation and law enforcement[12].

Thus, CARE aims at reducing vulnerabilities and increasing capacity by establishing functional structure of disaster preparedness and forest management in local communities. Its final goal is alleviating conflicts and securing the livelihood for each household, HLS (household livelihood security). So implementation is supposed to suit villages' socio-cultural traditions and integrate into long-term local development plan[13]. While carrying out projects in East Kalimantan, CARE follows four principles below:

  • Involves local stakeholders (farmers, concessionaires, private companies and forest services)
  • Combines disaster management and regional development, in line with Indonesian government's development plan.
  • Strengthens local capacity and reducing vulnerabilities.
  • Utilizes participatory communication approaches (PCA) and participatory learning and action(PLA) to engage and involve local communities.

Evaluation System

In order to better evaluate the vulnerabilities in different communities, CVA (Capacity and Vulnerability Analysis), a method of assessing local situations is implemented by CARE. CVA mainly examines three factors[12]:

  • Physical factors: the productivity of available resources including land, infrastructure, food, capital, technologies, housing and skills[12].
  • Social organization:  formal political structure; informal customary relationship; conflicts and prejudice within or between different communities[12].
  • Attitudes: communities' opinion towards disaster management, tenures, conflict resolution. Usually a community with a victimized, fatalistic and dependent are more psychological vulnerable[12].

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA)

Many communities stay fatalistic because of the misfortunes that natural disasters bring about and the dismissive attitudes of government over indigenous right. Therefore, the Participatory learning and action(PLA) methods target to help them overcome this attitude by infusing in the villagers a sense of ownership in decision-making process[12]. In each project, participants set their own targets and indicators of the activities they participate in. CARE encourages and assists the following three projects:

  • CARE encourages a system to formulate contracts of leasing lands. Because the Dayaks claim traditional land as common good and restrict its use to other stakeholders outside their communities, the new migrants (e.g. the Bugis) have very few available spots[12]. If Dayak groups lease land to new migrants (e.g. the Bugis) who only have access to limited plots, it will effectively decrease the amount of fallow land, the conflicts between different communities and the jealousy incidents of arson[12]. In this way, the Dayak still retain their rights but allow the use of land to others.
  • Some villagers are advised to relay-plant banana trees in between rubber plantations. This is effective in protecting rubber products by isolating the fire breakouts[12]. In addition, it avoids the vulnerability of mono-cultures and provides farmers extra income[13].
  • CARE facilitates the organization of forest fire brigades[12]. It makes use of the existing social groups, such as the farmers association, and extends their knowledge and responsibility by training them in techniques of basic farming, fire prevention and suppression[12].

Eventually, PLA will re-establish the self-confidence of the community in withstanding disasters[12]. Also, villagers will be motivated to defend their rights and voice their opinions, which will furthermore promote the protection of customary right.

Disaster Management Training

CARE organizes the training curriculum based on the experience of other countries, where people are also recovering from the negative influences[12]. The contents of the disaster management training are mainly divided into three major modules:

  • Providing strategies and platforms to farmers on communicating with other stakeholders. For example, there was a mining company who wants to dig a flood-control channel. CARE helped them communicate and arrange meeting with village leaders[12].
  • Supporting and training local NGOs. There are lots of local NGOs, which are also interested in developing management programs. CARE invites them to training workshops and share resources, information and experience with them[12].
  • Exploration of different collaborative solutions over conflicts. In East Kalimantan, the conflicts are in various categories, including within community, between communities, and among communities and other stakeholders. During the training, the participants will be asked to analyze different options of cooperation from different perspectives. This will help them in the future to sustainably manage their resource and tenure issues.

The main affected stakeholder is the local community of East Kalimantan, mainly comprising the Dayak and the Bugis Indigenous tribes. Approximately 2 million people live in the region, with a wide range of livelihoods comprising of urban, peri-urban, and rural[13]. Large-scale companies extracting resources on their land are given more priority by the government, even to the extent of illegal operations being allowed, as they are very profitable[3]. Although impacted by the forest fires, threatening their health and resulting in crop loss, fires are also often started by the local community in retaliation for the denied access to the forests[7]. The repeated local crop failure is initiated by the huge forest fires and worsened by plague, floods and droughts. This has forced local farmers to change their livelihood, resulting in some farmers getting involved in illegal logging, while some conduct casual labor[12]. But most of them stay jobless for a long period of time. Children are more likely to be malnourished as a result of this[12].

The Dayak

The Dayak is a collective term for traditional communities in Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo. In East Kalimantan, they consist of 9 groups, which are Kenyah, Punan, Bahau, Benuaq, Bentian, Tunjung, Lundayeh, Penehing and Dayak Pasir, and make up 20 percent of the province’s population[7]. In East Kalimantan the Dayak have occupied the forest area for generations, having placed their home in this area. Recently the Indonesian government has decided to shift the country’s capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan, making way for several trans migrants to settle down in the “lush province.”[14] According to Madam Helena, the head of the Dayak Customary Council, the trans migrants are provided with houses and living expenses, while the Dayak people are not, even though it is on their ancestral land[14].

Although the government has stated that the indigenous community will not be marginalized and have also vowed to return 12.7 million hectares of land back to the Dayak, they face issues of loss of habitat, resources and even job losses as a result of the increased industrialization and forest clearing that is continually occurring[15]. The high level of clearance of the peatlands and intact forests will lead to a heavy loss of resources that the Dayak are dependent on for their livelihoods, impacting their survival and source of income[15]. According to Kittisak Rattanakrajangsri of advocacy group Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, the “Indigenous people in East Kalimantan have not been consulted, and stand to lose their lands and livelihoods to make way for the new capital.”[15] The relocation not only threatens the native people, but also the wildlife and biodiversity of the region.[14] The Dayak people don't hold much power, given the lack of properly implemented customary and statutory rights, where they are not even consulted during decision-making process regarding the forested lands. Having this as their ancestral land for generations, they are shown to value the land and its resources far more than the government, harvesting resources in a more sustainable way to suit their livelihood. Without the help of NGOs and other outside companies helping provide rights to them, they and their land are seen as a low priority to the government that isn't as profitable as outside resource extraction companies.

The Bugis

The migration of Bugis farmers to East Kalimantan dates back to at least the sixteenth century, mostly migrating from South Sulawesi[16]. In recent times the Bugis people have migrated, and continue to do so, to East Kalimantan in search of a better life as they wish to escape from the Islamic rebellion in South Sulawesi and the several negative impacts it had brought to their lives in the region.[16]

The Bugis farmers are mainly known for their pepper farming, which involves clearing forests by leaving the vegetation to dry under the sun and then be burned, producing the right soil for pepper plantations[16]. Bugis farmers also partake in coconut and clove harvesting[16]. But the pepper plantations have resulted in very serious soil erosion rates, impacting the ecology of the region[16]. With the construction of the Samarinda-Balikpapan road there has been an increase in the area of land available to the farmers for their plantations[16]. But after the El Niño forest fires an estimated 3.6 million hectares of forest land was destroyed, severely impacted the pepper plantations, forcing multiple farmers to move back to South Sulawesi[16].

Given the increased timber harvesting that involves high levels of deforestation, some of which is approved by the Government, the Bugis farmers can aid in the reduction of the deforestation. By placing the pepper plantations along roads constructed through the forest areas, they can help impede the access to the forests, helping decrease deforestation rates especially for timber[16]. But with these plantations comes an increased rate of soil erosion, which is also detrimental to the biodiversity and the forest[16]. The forest management method of the Bugis people shows to be helpful in terms of short-term sustainability, with pepper plantations taking up to three years to achieve a full harvest[16]. But with clearing of the forests through increased timber harvesting and deforestation from the forest fires, it is no longer as viable for the farmers to have a proper and sustainable livelihood in East Kalimantan[16]. The Bugis tribe are known as frequent migrants, continually shifting from one plot of land to the next once a full yield has been achieved with their plantations, resulting in high soil erosion rates that have obvious negative impacts to the local ecosystem. Providing only a short-term sustainability with their methods, it is shown to at least be more beneficial than the high rates of timber harvesting approved by the government that have heavily harmed the forest lands. There is also a lack of power with the Bugis tribe, where they have lost much of their land through the deforestation methods and forest fires. Although not sustainable in the long-term, we can see that they care more about the land, and the value and resources it provides, much more than the government has displayed.

Resource Extraction Companies

Timber as well as other products like coal, are seen as a highly valuable and profitable resource by local Kalimantan. Companies of various scale are taking part in mining, logging and other forms of resource extraction in the local forests. Both legal and illegal operators exist in the logging market, not being affected by the ban on logging exports imposed in October 2001[3]. In addition to local logging companies, other international resource companies are also involved, like those in China that have been importing the cane of Rattan palms for over 800 years[17].

Take mining companies in East Kalimantan as an example, their intense activities are considered a threat to the local ecosystem. During the Indonesian coal boom (around 2000), mining gained increasing importance and was welcomed by policymakers as a way of generating revenue[18].They are given the permission to do so by the local government[3]. Even though local Dayak communities are not satisfied with the mining activities in pristine forest and their non-transparent compensation system, the Dayaks are not allowed to stop their behaviors[18].

Resource extraction companies have high interest in the natural resources because they need to earn money out of it. Although these companies' actions are still limited by the licenses provided by the government, these companies have relatively higher power than the indigenous. In this case, customary owners had a right to compensation, but no right to say “no” to the behaviors of companies.


Other stakeholders include NGOs and other organizations and have the objective of local environment conservation and local communities' well-being. They are involved in helping raise awareness of the forest fires by broadcasting multiple campaigns and advertisements on leaflets and brochures, while also providing many seminars and workshops to educate the population on preventative measures[7]. Local and provincial fire centres are placed on alert about any fires that have been started, helping to hopefully put these fires out and monitor any from being lit in the first place, but they require more legal and financial support[7]. Both local and international NGOs have helped the local population improve communications and cope with the various problems brought about. Below are two examples of the NGOs in East Kalimantan:

CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) is an international NGO that has implemented a disaster-management program named CARE DISPRE Approach (DISaster PREparedness), which has helped the local community in coping with the frequent wildfires[11]. Through a proper disaster management training program and evaluation system, they have helped bring about a better communication system among the multiple stakeholders involved in forest land possession conflicts, especially providing the Indigenous people with a better platform to voice their opinions[12].

A more locally-based NGO, called KKI WARSI (Komunitas Konservasi Indonesia WARSI), has helped the local community secure customary rights to parts of their territory in the forested lands, giving them the right to manage these lands under a better community forestry regime[18]. The KKI WARSI team was welcomed with open arms by the community they were helping, where they assured the local people about the continued help they would be provided with, slowly regaining the land they lost to the government, which was once their land[18].

Ministry of Forestry and Governments

Governments have highest power among all the stakeholders. As mentioned before, provincial and district government's licensing system is biased towards resources extraction[18]. Their general goal is to promote economic development. The ministry of forestry in each province exercises power on behalf of the government because the wages of staff are from the government. Government issues companies legal license to coal mining and timber. The Local Government knows the conflicts between indigenous value and companies' behaviors, but it shows that governments as well as its institutions are incapable to reform forest policy and improve coordination. Governments have rhetoric for greater benefit to the community but did not provide useful policy instruments to deliver this change[12]. Although its local institutions such as district forest services are supposed to represent local needs, in fact the group was dominated by local government members, who are not always sensitive to indigenous aspirations[15].

Apparently, the topic of community-based forest management lies in the basis of community forestry [what does this sentence mean?]. The disregard to indigenous group's customary rights contributes to the degradation of forest, and furthermore an increasing vulnerability towards natural hazards. The forests in East Kalimantan are mostly made up of fire-affected and logged-over areas[9]. Without the community participation in fire prevention and suppression, the damage of re-occurring fires and increasing deforestation rate will continuously harm the livelihood and well-being of residents. The lack of community forest management will eventually lead to a vicious cycle.

In East Kalimantan, community-based fire management programs such as IFFM and CARE DISPRE are still in an early stage of implementation[7]. It has already shown some promising outcomes. For example, the IFFM have a stable two-way information system as a basis of fire management[7]. And CARE DISPRE engage communities and secure household livelihoods[12]. However due to the complexity of tenure system and natural hazards, there are still a lot that the programs can do to improve. For instance, what I do realize is the community-based fire management programs need more support from mass media. Television/radio interviews and talk shows of the fire-prevention campaign can be promoted and broadcast, targeting on various groups of audience.

Disaster management should be a thread running through the overall community development in East Kalimantan.To conclude, the success of community forest management depends on two factors.

Firstly, provincial and district government need to attach importance to the program and assign capital to support its long-term development[7]. As the program develops, more capital is needed in purchasing and maintaining fire-prevention tools, training staff and holding workshop. For instance, IFFM will engage more communities if there is a mechanism which recognizes and rewards contributors such as the volunteering crew[7]. Also, establishing income-generating programs will help attract more experts and extension workers, who will contribute to the three technical modules in the future.

Secondly, the attitudes and well-being of local people should be emphasized in the implementation of this project. The participation and willingness of local communities will largely influence the implementation. Often the fatalistic and lack of confidence in attitudes are overlooked[12]. By encouraging farmers, advocating and communicating their problems and interest will encourage them more. Socio-cultural differences lead to divergent perceptions over land tenure issues and agricultural practices[12]. So it will be more sustainable that various cultural group strengthen their capacities and reduce their vulnerabilities within their own framework. Their distinction and uniqueness should be respected during cooperation[12].

Finally, it should be noted that the outcome of fire management does not only rely on forest fire management projects, but also how government recognizes and addresses the underlying cause of increasing fires, such as the land conflicts, which are mostly triggered by national government's ignorance of indigenous right over the land[7]. Thus, it is vital that to build up and enforce a regulation prohibits the misuse and over-exploitation of natural resource.

The main issue being dealt with in this case study is the legalization of the deforestation methods implemented by both the local community and other outside stakeholders. Legalizing the illegal timber harvesting methods implemented might not necessarily result in the reduction of these illegal activities in the area. A more effective solution would be to alter the regulatory framework when targeting the profitability and apply better methods of monitoring and enforcement. These methods should involve the local community, entrusting them to help monitor and enforce the rules in a proper manner, bring about a desirable outcome for all stakeholders.

Bringing more illegal acts of deforestation to the public eye can help governments be more involved and take further action when necessary. Power of each stakeholder should be clarified, addressing the number of rights they have in each aspect of tenure, land, etc. Local community members should be granted more rights and bigger voice in decision-making regarding the forest and the resources being used.

Possible Solutions

  • Implement a response program that focuses on decreasing the local communities’ fire use by coming up with an alternative sustainable livelihood that encourages people to move away from the peatlands
  • Invest in learning more about the recurrent fires and their long-term impact on the local populations’ health and the resources derived from the area, encouraging the conservation of the environment and decreased destructive deforestation practices
  • Important to consider the technical and socioeconomic feasibility of practicing controlled burning in the accessible riverbanks and floodplains, particularly in long drought years, so that fires are contained
  • Necessary to examine the short-term and long-term effects of industrial operations like mining, ensuring they are sustainable in order to not negatively impact the socioeconomic and environmental factors
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Seekiefer (Pinus halepensis) 9months-fromtop.jpg
This conservation resource was created by Yiyang Wang, Apoorva Ashok Kumar. It is shared under a CC-BY 4.0 International License.
Post image: By Gunawan Kartapranata. CC BY SA 3.0