By Marissa Maguide
Last November 21-28, 2009, Tebtebba’s Climate Team undertook a community visit to the project demonstration area in Indonesia. The visit commenced with a partners' meeting and workshop with ID and AMAN to discuss and firm up their implementation plan. This gave the team the opportunity to gain more insights on how our partners work and the depth of their work towards the revitalization and restitution of the Dayak cultural heritage especially in these two villages. They have been working in these communities for more than 10 years now.
The team was able to visit only one of the demo areas, which is the village of Tanjung, due to time constraints and geographical factors. To reach the village of Tanjung, one has to traverse a long distance through rough road from Ketapang City, West Kalimantan Province in the island of Borneo. The team was on the road longer than the regular four-hour drive due to rainy that made the road much harder to traverse.
A focus group discussion with the different leaders and elders of the village was arranged where the team was able to introduce the project collaboration among Tebtebba, ID and AMAN. Here, the team was able to get affirmative response that such collaboration would be helpful for them. Moreover, they shared most of the local situation, especially the challenges confronting them with respect to their rights and resources. This activity, including the informal conversations, likewise served as a venue for generating initial data on traditional knowledge, practices and customary governance in forest or resource management especially on the concept of “dahas” which is one of the focus of the case study. The concept of dahas refers to a family/clan-based integrated traditional forest management.
We were then introduced to several dahas, particularly to Dahas Tomonang and the forest revival pilot project of AMA-JK. Going to the dahas area - where we walked through a swampy, water-logged forest of hard wood, rubber and fruit trees - was the highlight of the visit because it facilitated deep understanding on how the local indigenous communities sustained and protected their forest since time immemorial. Accordingly, their forests serve as their legacy for the future generations that are sustained through local wisdom or indigenous resource management and practices.
Dahas Tomonang has been in existence for more than 50 years as can be proven by the size or growth of various species of trees. It has a mix of indigenous hard wood species, rubber trees, and fruit trees of durian, rambutan, mango and other local fruits, which serves as supplemental source of income for the community. Swidden farms of rice, rootcrops and vegetables are integrated in the whole ecosystem. These also serve as buffer areas from forest fires between the dahas area and the sacred forest area. One of the traditional sources of income is the gathering of rubber sap from rubber trees within the dahas which are done every morning and then processed for selling to the market.
The pilot project of AMA-JK aims to revive the practice of dahas in the village because it is observed that such practice has been deteriorating due to the entry of sawit or palm plantations in the area. The project areas is an 8-hectare land donated by the village and is now being developed for dahas. This is part of the forest area that was totally deforested due to forest fires in the past years and is adjacent to a newly-planted palm oil plantation. It is also being developed as a demonstration project site for agriculture production and for the promotion of the traditional dahas practice in forest management.
The project is being pursued to serve as a model for a new pendahasan (dahas area). At the same time, this also serves as an intervention for their campaign against the expansion of palm plantation and the entry of extractive mining and logging in their land. This project will also help motivate other community members to revive and strengthen the traditional dahas practice in managing their forests and other resources, in the exercise of their self-determined development.