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New Face for Traditional Commons: Forest Conversion and the Redefinition of Common Property and Individual Rights through Agroforest Development in Sumatra, Indonesia

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Michon, Genevieve; De Foresta, Hubert; Levang, Patrice
Conference: Reinventing the Commons, the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bodoe, Norway
Conf. Date: May 24-28, 1995
Date: 1995
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/267
Sector: Forestry
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
Abstract: "In Indonesia, conflicts between the State and local communities concerning utilization and control of forest resources are increasing. As a result of existing legislation, market regulations and financial policies, dispossession of local communities and deregulation of traditional common property systems are becoming common cases all over the archipelago. But, parallel to the present dilapidation of misappropriated common property resources in natural forests, there is, sometimes for more than a century, a movement towards restitution of these resources in farming systems. In many areas, forest resources have been appropriated by local communities through special management systems which transfer them to agricultural lands and into agricultural systems but do not look like agricultural management. As pure forest reconstruction enterprises, these remarkable 'agroforest' systems associate the ancient forest management systems with a logic of commercial agriculture. They overall allow farmers to escape the contradiction existing between a national institutional framework which sharply limits access to natural forests and an economic reality which pushes towards intensive utilization of their resources. Through the history of an agroforest in Sumatra, through the analysis of interrelations between natural and social processes which shaped and sustain it, we shall discuss how this 'agroforest' concept can contribute to debates on use and dynamics of common property resources in forest areas, emphasizing biological and human aspects which allowed more than the conservation of one or another forest resource, the restoration of the forest resource itself in all its biological and economic diversity, we shall discuss the validity of this 'agroforest strategy' for re-appropriation of the ancient forest commons in a context particularly unfavorable to their maintenance in present resource management systems. "Accent will be put on the special socio-cultural aspects -perception of forest resources, representation of the agroforest vs. representation of the forest- and local institutional characteristics - modes of access, control and transfer for different types of agroforest resources - which make the originality of the agroforest management mode. Discussion will follow on the perspectives offered by the agroforest model for future negotiations between national government and local communities on the use of forest lands and resources."

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