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Strategic Engagement and Dynamic Adaption: Customary Forest Management in Kerinci, Central Sumatra, Indonesia

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Hartanto, Herlina; Haripriya, Ragnan; Thorburn, Craig; Christian, Kull
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1091
Sector: Social Organization
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): forest management
adaptive systems
community participation
Abstract: "The ability of communities to use and manage forests and other natural resources in a sustainable manner has received much interest from various scholars, policymakers, donor agencies, and non-government organisations. With regards to the management of forests and natural resources by customary communities in Indonesia, there are two opposing views of the customary institutions, or adat, and management practices. Some perceive adat institutions and management practices as weak, inert, and incapable of responding to changing economic and social conditions. Others see adat institutions as politically dynamic and innovative in their response to changing circumstances. This paper examines the strategies and processes used by adat leaders in Kerinci, Central Sumatra, to adapt and transform their customary forest institutions in response to the national governments policies for increased forest conservation. These policies were instituted by the creation of the Kerinci-Seblat National Park, accompanied by regulations defining forest areas and controlling peoples access to natural resources within the park and the buffer zone. Drawing on key concepts in legal pluralism, institutional change, and theories of power, the paper illustrates the ways in which the adat leaders reshaped adat institutions and engaged with powerful external actors to claim authority and management rights over the forests. The conclusions point to need for policymakers, scholars, and practitioners to move beyond typecasting adat institutions and focus instead on the strategic ways in which adat leaders and communities engage with local governments and external actors to redefine both customary and formal institutions of forest control and management."

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