Managing Forests and Creating Opportunities for Papuan People

Appropriate management of natural resources and ecosystem services can provide an increase in the economy of local communities, especially indigenous Papuans (OAP), and encourage increased human resource capacity in sustainable development.

The results of the Food and Land Use (FOLU) research conducted by the University of Papua team, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the West Papua regional government and supported by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the EcoNusa Foundation recommended a number of the potential and challenges for creating employment opportunities for OAP in managing ecotourism, aquaculture, and sustainable food.

The topic was discussed in a special session of the Indonesia Development Forum 2019 titled Food and Land Use in West Papua for Job Creation for Papuan Natives, in Jakarta, Monday (7/22). Present as speakers were Charlie Dany Heatubun, Head of the West Papua Province Research and Development Agency, Keliopas Krey, Member of the West Papua Province FOLU Team), and Kristian Sauyai from the Association of Business Activists and Livelihoods of the Indigenous People of Raja Ampat.

Papua’s land contributes 50% of biodiversity in Indonesia, so maintaining the existence of Papua’s forests means preserving biodiversity and the population of all OAPs that depend on natural resources and forest ecosystem services. Food and land use studies conducted at the beginning of 2019 focus on the linkages between food, land use and management of forest and marine-based ecosystem services to ensure sustainability and sustainable development in West Papua province.

“Food studies and land use are in line with the vision of the sustainable development of West Papua province that supports improved community welfare through biodiversity conservation, utilization of environmental services, creative economy, and increased community participation,” Charlie said.

Furthermore, food and land use are joint, sustainable and integrated initiations. “The results of this study can be used as a policy basis to accelerate development in West Papua, which is right on target and provides great benefits for the welfare of the community, especially OAP,” Keliopas said.

Good management of forests and biological resources can guarantee food independence, improve nutrition and build high-quality and highly competitive human resources. This is important to enhance inclusive and sustainable economic growth. At present food availability in West Papua comes from local production and supplies from outside West Papua. The amount of food supplied from outside West Papua (East Java, South Sulawesi and North Sulawesi) amounts to> 80% compared to local food. This fact illustrates that West Papua has not established food.

The West Papua Provincial Government in 2019 will continue the development of five strategic commodities that are the regional superior. The five commodities include cocoa, coffee, nutmeg, sago, and coconut. In addition to food security, this study also examines aspects of aquaculture and ecotourism as an important part of land use. Aquaculture planning is needed given the mountainous contours in West Papua which are difficult to obtain sources of animal protein. While ecotourism development involving the role of OAP needs more attention.

The tourism sector is one of the priorities of the development of West Papua province as stated in the fifth mission of the Regional Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMD) for 2017-2022. Ecotourism development gets more attention after West Papua declares itself a Conservation Province.

According to Kristian, the local community managing the homestay in Raja Ampat sees the importance of protecting biodiversity and cultural diversity in managing ecotourism. “The environment is the identity of us as the people of Raja Ampat and we are proud to be a part of Raja Ampat. Therefore we will continue to protect our nature so that our next generation can enjoy the same nature that we enjoy today,” he said.

The results of the Food and Land Use Study are expected to provide input on policy planning that encourages collaboration of various parties in supporting West Papua province in developing an inclusive and sustainable economic model by utilizing wealth in its forests.


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