Pirard, Romain, Henri Petit, Himlal Baral, & Ramadhani Achdiawan (2016). Impacts of industrial timber plantations in Indonesia: An analysis of rural populations’ perceptions in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Java (Occasional Paper 149). Bogor, Indonesia: CIFOR [Center for International Forestry Research]. (Accessible: http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/OccPapers/OP-149.pdf) ISBN 978-602-387-027-1. DOI: 10.17528/cifor/006037
Also published as: Dampak Hutan Tanaman Industri di Indonesia: Analisis Persepsi Masyarakat Desa di Sumatera, Jawa dan Kalimantan (CIFOR Occasional Paper no. 153). (Available: http://www.cifor.org/publications/pdf_files/OccPapers/OP-153.pdf) ISBN: 978-602-387-034-9. DOI: 10.17528/cifor/006137
Industrial timber plantations are controversial in many parts of the world. Indonesia is an interesting case, given its history of conflicts over land use and its ambitious plans to expand areas under plantation. Therefore, policy makers and investors need clear information about the impacts of industrial timber plantations in order to better design and manage plantations and to facilitate their integration into the rural landscape.
This study assessed the perceived impacts of industrial plantations in rural populations across Indonesia. We used a participatory approach to elicit subjective opinions from villagers living near the plantations, such as their views on positive or negative economic and environmental impacts. Thus, the study was not designed to present an objective assessment of these impacts, but to provide a comprehensive view of rural people’s perceptions and expectations of industrial forest plantations.
Two methods were applied: First, we conducted a household survey of 606 respondents across three islands (Java, Borneo and Sumatra), three tree species (acacia, teak and pine) and three end uses (pulpwood, timber production and resin production). Second, we undertook a Q-method analysis in one site with an established pulpwood plantation in order to identify significantly different groups of villagers with respect to their viewpoints. Combining an extensive household survey sample with the Q method is an innovative approach that gives a representative view of villagers’ perceptions and expectations of these plantations.
Results from the household survey show that pine and teak plantations are viewed differently than acacia pulpwood plantations in several ways. They have a higher number and greater variety of benefits and services, a higher number of perceived positive impacts in general, and better environmental goods and services. Pine and teak are also perceived as providing more opportunities for villagers to use plantation land (e.g. For intercropping) and products for rural livelihoods than acacia.
Populations adjacent to acacia plantations place greater emphasis on economic development and infrastructure. Villagers tend to acknowledge past achievements in terms of employment, and to a lesser extent credited the plantations with opening up remote areas and providing some of the infrastructure and services that are traditionally the responsibility of the state. But they also express yet-to-be-met expectations for future progress.
Use of the Q method led to the identification of three groups with contrasting viewpoints about acacia plantations: a first group exhibits enthusiasm over the development of the plantation, including recognition of ecosystem goods and services provided; the other two groups express dissatisfaction, either generally on all aspects or with a focus on the plantation as an obstacle to local development.
Data were disaggregated by gender to enable further analysis. Women and men do not differ significantly in their views on whether the plantation substantially changed the living environment and in what ways. Importantly, we find that women and men tend to give similar responses about positive and negative impacts, with women forming slightly better opinions of events. This provides a general indication that plantation development has not affected women more negatively than men.
Our analysis leads to several suggestions for the improvement of plantation management. The role of the state must be clarified and potentially reinforced, unless the burden of development – including that of infrastructure – is to remain on the shoulders of the companies. Lessons can be drawn from the teak and pine cases in Java on the performance of institutions that act as intermediaries between companies and people; these seem to hold potential for improving local perceptions of plantations.
Contributions by communities should be invited early in the planning stage, when there is time to correct mistakes that could lead to substantial negative impacts. In particular, this consultation phase is critical for addressing: land claims, the organization of the labor force (including the assignment of privileged working contracts), the spatial distribution of the plantation and its impact on areas of local value, and to options for land sharing. Taking villagers’ expectations and perceptions into account when developing plantation management plans is a major avenue to fruitful co-existence with local populations.
Romain Pirard <email@example.com> is a Senior Scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research, Indonesia.