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The social forestry project, West Kalimantan
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People living in eight villages in the rainforest of Sanggau have long used forest products, including timber, as part of their daily living . However, until recently, they had no legal rights to sell any produce as the Sanggau forest is owned by the Government. Logging concessions were granted to commercial companies. This made it hard for local people to improve their standard of living. After long negotiations with the Government, Sanggau has been made a ‘Forest Area with a Special Purpose’ which gives local people more rights.

A project has been set up which allows people to use and sell forest resources but without destroying the forest. It is funded by the Indonesian Government and a German Government agency. It aims to combine timber extraction, farming and NTFPs. One of the main products is rubber, which is important both locally and nationally. Everything is carefully controlled to preserve the forest environment. Individual trees are felled and then cut up by portable sawmills.The pieces are carried to the nearest road. In this way very little damage is done to the surrounding forest. The local communities elect stewards who monitor what is happening throughout the forest.

The whole project is managed by a private consultancy in partnership with Government departments. It has been a very complex task: gaining the land rights, working with the eight villages to help them form a co-operative, producing a detailed land-use plan and training people to run the operations and market the products. It has also been very expensive.