The community of Pematang Rahim Village, Mendahara Ulu, Tanjung Jabung Timur District has designed some village forest management plans and provided some technical assistances to support the management process. In addition, the community has formed the Village Forest Management Agency (LPHN) that is in charge of the area management and fire aware community (MPA) group to have a patrol controlling and preventing the fire within the peatland area. The communities are very much excited to participate in designing the ecotourism concept in their village forest and share any ideas to develop and implement it in the area near by Jambi Province – only two hours away by car.

However, the idea to soon implement the village forest management seems too close to postpone. The only problem is that the proposed village forest management in last January 2017 did not get any feedback yet from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF).

It is indeed, the MoEF was once quiet responsive to this proposed activity where they made the verification team in June 2017. The verification team has asserted that all the proposals have been settled as all the target areas are within the Indicative Map of Social Forestry Area (PIAPS) while the Village Forest Management and the community has met the other requirements.

“Nevertheless, we have not yet obtained any decree on our village forest confirmation. We are confused as the designed plan can not run since we have not got the decree,” Said Suryani, Head of Pematang Rahim Village Forest Management.

Suryani stated that the Sungai Buluh Peatland Protected Forest has been proposed with the scheme of Village Forest covering ± 1,185 ha. “We expect the village forest benefit the communities, we assumed that the peatland could also be part of the ecotourism, by developing the existing potential around such as a tree-house and several picturesque spots within the forest. Yet, we are wondering the certainty which never comes to us up to now,” said Suryani.

In addition, the other two villages, Sinar Wajo and Sungai Beras Villages have received the forest management right since last 2014 over the same landscape as Pematang Rahim. “We do hope that the government can soon produce the decree on our village forest,” said Suryani.

In line with the statement above, the Deputy director of Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI) WARSI, Adi Junedi regrets a late response from the MoEF concerning the activity proposed by the communities of Pematang Rahim Village. There has already been an investigation to the relevant MoEF and Forestry related to the license and decree on Pematang Rahim. Apparently, it comes as the result of an overlapping between the Indicative Map of Social Forestry Area (PIAPS) and Indicative Moratorium Map (PIPIB). Moreover, the Indicative Moratorium Map 12th Revision produced by the MoEF on july 31st 2017 to follow up the presidential decree no.6/2017 on peatland in PIPIB was registered and was part of the map. On the other hand, the Pematang Rahim Village Forest Proposal has also been into the PIAPS, either at old or new versions of PIAPS 1st revision no. SK/4865/MENLHK-PKTL/REN/PLA.0/9/2017 released on September 25th 2017 as a reference for the community to propose the area.

“We see that there is a lack communication within the KLHK institution which leads to the uncertainty in its implementation among the societies,” said Adi Junedi.

He added that when the problem is not soon resolved, it would inhibit the implementation of social forestry. “The social forestry is a program of the government which aims at improving the local welfare by forest management,” said Adi Junedi.

Based on the analysis conducted by WARSI in Jambi Province, there would be 25% PIAPS forest and peatland areas taken out of PIPIB. Forest and peatland landscapes within the PIPIB cover about 1,060,224,06 ha while the area stated as social forestry (according to PIAPS) covers about 229,321.64 ha. In addition, the overlapping area between PIPIB and PIAPS reach 55,564.49 ha. “This number only happened in Jambi Province while other areas, whose issues found are similar to, have not been counted yet. “If it does not work, it would absolutely cross over the target of the social forestry,” said Adi Junedi.

Whereas, the government (red: president) has targeted 12.7 million ha for social forestry during his period. However, it can only reach about two million ha. “we are questioning the commitment of the 12.7 million ha if the overlapping issue can not be resolved yet,” Adi Junedi said.

He does hope that the MoEF is willing to soon produce a regulation exclusively on social forestry in petland area as a reference of its license. The communities need a legal right to manage the area as well as to keep it away from any hazardous threats within. “the regulation needs to be produced and published soon, so the community has a certainty to manage the area,” Adi Junedi added.

He also asserted that the regulation is really necessary to protect and save the remaining forest in the area. the Pematang Rahim Village forest plays a significant role to protect the peat ecosystem where the biggest carbon stock kept in. Based on the observation carried out by LPHD and KKI WARSI in last September, the potential carbon existing in this village is up to 76 ton/ha/tree while its peatland lies about 1,824 ton/ha.

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