Indonesia’s Community Forests: Learning from the Past to Improve the Future
The certification of Indonesia’s community forests continues to be a challenge, despite their increasing levels of timber production and more than 3.4 million households relying on them for their livelihoods. Responding to this challenge, we are supporting a project through the 2015 Collaboration Fund to make certification more accessible to communities.
Community forests play an important role within Indonesia: while they cover just 2.3 million hectares (in a country with roughly 90 million hectares of forest), these forests support the livelihoods of more than 3.4 million households.
In the last decade, the quantity of timber harvested by communities has increased dramatically, reaching more than five million square meters annually. As these numbers continue to grow, it is more important than ever that these community forests are managed sustainably, ensuring they continue to benefit the local economy and ecosystem.
However, while forest certification has been promoted in the region for more than two decades, it has yet to take hold in the country’s community forests.
Internal constraints, such as weak economies of scale and lack of marketing opportunities, have meant that certification has been prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, the complexities of existing certification systems and procedures have also hindered uptake of certification in community forests.
PEFC and community forests
In response, the 2015 PEFC Collaboration Fund is supporting a project led by the Indonesian Forest Certification Cooperation (IFCC) to make forest certification more accessible within community forests.
With over two decades worth of experience in forest certification in the country, there is already a wealth of information available regarding best practices, as well as what has not been successful. The project will therefore begin with in-depth research into past and current certification procedures, including the gathering of local knowledge and wisdom within the forest communities themselves.
Once the information has been gathered, the findings will be used to inform development of a new community forestry standard and group certification procedures. These outputs will be pilot tested and further refined through the input and feedback from communities and other expert partners involved in the project.
Throughout the duration of the project, the project partners will also undertake awareness raising and training activities within the forest communities. Booklets, leaflets and a selection of other printed and online materials will be produced to introduce local communities to the demands of international markets, alongside technical training to improve forest management practices.
This project is just the first step in the development of sustainable community forestry in Indonesia. IFCC and PEFC will also continue to work together to improve the access of the products originating in the community forests to both national and international markets.