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Indigenous fire management and government fire policy in savannas of eastern Indonesia Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples: Practices, Lessons Learned and Prospects

Myers, Bronwyn, Karwur, Ferry F., Palekahelu, Dharma Putra, Fisher, Rohan, Meyer, CP (Mick) and Radjapono, Simon (2012). Indigenous fire management and government fire policy in savannas of eastern Indonesia Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples: Practices, Lessons Learned and Prospects<br /><br />. In: Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples: Practices Lessons Learned and Prospects, Cairns, QLD, 26-28 March 2012.

Document type: Conference Paper

IRMA ID 82057923xPUB405
Author Myers, Bronwyn
Karwur, Ferry F.
Palekahelu, Dharma Putra
Fisher, Rohan
Meyer, CP (Mick)
Radjapono, Simon
Title Indigenous fire management and government fire policy in savannas of eastern Indonesia Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples: Practices, Lessons Learned and Prospects

Conference Name Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples: Practices Lessons Learned and Prospects
Conference Location Cairns, QLD
Conference Dates 26-28 March 2012
Conference Publication Title Proceedings of the Expert Workshop on Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples
Publisher UNU - Institute of Advanced Studies Traditional Knowledge Initiative
Publication Year 2012
Start Page 26
End Page 28
Total Pages 3
HERDC Category E1 - Conference Publication (DIISR)
Abstract Landscapes of eastern Indonesia are dominated by fire‐prone savannas. Savannas cover about a third of the land area of the eastern Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara (Nusa Tenggara Timur, NTT). Burning is an integral part of traditional land management in eastern Indonesia: preparation of land for cultivation is by slash‐and‐burn, savanna is burnt to flush out game while hunting, and savanna is also burnt to stimulate new growth (green pick) for grazing. Traditionally, the timing of agricultural practices is linked to cosmology and preceded by rituals held at the clan house. The traditional burning practices are described for the Meto peoples of South Central Timor on Timor island and the Wunga peoples of East Sumba on Sumba island. These traditional practices are linked to ecological constraints, ecological opportunities and social‐cultural forces, and so fire management is integral to traditional subsistence livelihoods.

Western colonization followed by Indonesian national government have created regulations prohibiting burning and altering the governance and management of forest and land resources. Despite these official changes to governance, aspects of traditional
land and forest management persist in many rural villages. In recent decades, large uncontrolled fires have become common in the savannas of eastern Indonesia. Observations suggest that savanna burning is less extensive in some areas associated
with population increases and the establishment of permanent plantations of economically significant trees. Ironically, burning of plantations also occurs in retaliation to disputed ownership of land and resources. A study (conducted from 2002 to 2005 and
funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, ACIAR) of recent fire history in the savannas of East Sumba and central Flores in NTT showed that extensive wildfires occurred frequently and most commonly in the late dry season, and
caused damage to crops, houses and natural gallery forests. Local communities generally felt powerless to manage or control fire in order to mitigate against the damaging consequences of wildfires. During the ACIAR‐funded project a participatory action research approach was taken: causes and impacts of savanna fires were investigated by participatory rural appraisal, land use maps and fire histories were created from participatory mapping and from satellite imagery with validation from aerial photos and
ground observations, and communities established agroforestry demonstration plots and implemented prescribed burning to protect agroforestry enterprises from wildfire. Although there were national regulations prohibiting burning, the district governments
participating in this study had not passed regulations to implement this legislation.

District governments and community leaders supported the strategic use of fire introduced in this project. The extent to which project impacts were maintained in the longer term was assessed by investigations carried out three to five years after the
conclusion of the funded project. These investigations showed that community prescribed burning continued where ownership of assets was clear and equitable, and where community leadership and support was strong and continuing. Conversely, community prescribed burning had ceased where there were disputes over ownership and where a change of community leadership had resulted in no further support for community agroforestry and community strategic burning. National regulations prohibiting burning (UU 4/2001) were modified in 2009 (UU 32/2009) with a subsection allowing consideration of local wisdom.

The impact of the implementation of community controlled burning in East Sumba and central Flores has been a reduction in the area of savanna burnt each year. The potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing extensive wildfires in the savannas of eastern Indonesia is explored. It is important for those who are in a position to introduce changes to burning practices, to consider the cultural restriction on resource use within local communities, demonstrating benefits to farmers from these practices, and engaging local governance systems and their links with district and provincial government and NGO agencies to support wise fire management.
Keyword Eastern Indonesia
Indigenous fire management
Biomass burning
Government policy
Governance
Indigenous peoples
Traditional knowlege
Indigenous Australians
 
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Created: Fri, 17 Jan 2014, 00:19:39 CST