East Kalimantan forest resource use and management in the Upper Bahau : traditional institutions and practices

TitleEast Kalimantan forest resource use and management in the Upper Bahau : traditional institutions and practices
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsDevung SG, Eaton P
Book TitleEnvironment and conservation in Borneo
PublisherBorneo Research Council
CityPhillips, ME
Call NumberM 2001 A 3467
Keywordscustoms and traditions, environment, environmental management, Excerpta Indonesica, forestry, INDONESIA, Kalimantan Timur, natural resources, regulations

This article explores the role of traditional institutions regarding forest resource use and management, emphasizing their role in filling the lacunae left by the absence of relevant national legislation. By looking at a case study of village communities in the Upper Bahau area, the author aims to gain more insight into the mechanisms by which traditional institutions work or do not work. In this, forest resources are used to meet various subsistence needs: rotational cultivation of rice in both primary and secondary forests, hunting,and fishing, harvesting of wild and semi-wild plants, and collecting building materials. The author gives a detailed list of rules and regulations pertaining to each of these activities. While a reasonable degree of conformity between traditional institutions and actual practices was found in resource use related to subsistence needs, this is generally not the case with commercial use. In the extraction of aloe wood, in particular, traditional rules and regulations are no longer in effect. For extraction of rattan, gutta parang and local spice leaves, some traditional rules and regulations are still in effect while others are neglected. The author is inclined to see individual (non)compliance with traditional rules and regulations as an "adjustive process". The decision whether or not to conform to rules seems to depend either on group pressure or on pragmatic considerations of self-interest and expediency, rather than on ethical motivations. Before adjusting, changing, or replacing the existing traditional rules and regulations, however, it is important to trace the factors which determined to what extent institutions functioned well in the past. A practical implication for policy-making is the necessity of pluralism and flexibility in legal rules and regulations in order to accommodate the needs of communities with different environmental, social, and institutional contexts.