The Jakarta Post
Following the high rate of deforestation in the region, the Jambi provincial administration is continuing its drive to develop village forest areas in an attempt to preserve the remaining forests in Jambi.
Jambi Governor Hasan Basri Agus recently issued 17 Village Forest Concessions (HPHD) to the community in Rantau Suli village, Sungai Tenang district, Merangin regency.
There are 12 HPHDs in Merangin, two in Bungo regency and three others in Batanghari regency, spanning a total of 36,170 hectares (ha).
Jambi has 18 Industrial Forest Permit (HTI) holders that manage an area of 663,809 ha, in addition, there is 110,755 ha of assigned, but not yet developed, land and 79,066 ha recommended by the governor.
These numbers equate to 853,430 hectares of HTI areas ' a fifth of Jambi's total area ' but currently less than 1 percent of the province have benefited from the village forest scheme's community-based management rights.
According to Hasan, the provision of HPHD community rights in the three regencies is expected to boost people's economy. The expansion of the village forest areas ' which is in collaboration with the Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI Warsi) and other relevant agencies ' is also expected to go someway to protecting the forest in Jambi.
'Don't let the remaining forests be handed over to businesspeople. This is part of our efforts to save the forest,' said Hasan.
Social Forestry Development director Hariadi said the Lubuk Beringin village forest in Jambi would be the first of such projects, which aims to provide the community with legal access to forest management.
The legal access could be in the form of allocation of village forests, or community forest land.
However, in Jambi, it is more suitable to develop village forests according to the beliefs and wishes of the local community.
'I hope the village forests ' or the community forest land ' will continue to expand in Jambi with support from the central and provincial governments and NGOs, because the forest can become an economic source for the community,' said Hariadi.
In support of expanding village forests, his institution will provide assistance to the community regarding village forests and the community forest land management.
The assistance can be in the form of production facilities. Hariadi expressed optimism that the collaboration between all stakeholders would result in the success of the initiate.
Separately, KKI Warsi executive director Rakhmat Hidayat said the HPHD would serve as an instrument for autonomous community management, conflict resolution as well as ensure the people whose source of living is found in and around the forests receive the relevant tenure rights and justice.
'We also hope it would improve people's welfare. The forest would not only be protected but also have benefits the local people,' said Rakhmat.
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