Preserving Forests While Boosting the Economic Aspect Through a Conservation Partnership

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By Nurhadi 

(LATIN Jember Field facilitator)

Meru Betiri National Park area has an important role in maintaining life support systems. Therefore, its existence must be maintained and preserved thus the rate of deforestation, degradation, and loss of biodiversity can be reduced in optimum way.

If you look at the data on the opened area, in Meru Betiri National Park there is an area that is deforested about 6.5 percent or an area of ​​3,382 hectares of the total 52,626.04 hectare conservation area. This is due to the strong community pressure on the area due to the high dependence on the community on the forest as a source of livelihood.

Therefore, restoring a forest that has been damaged must involve the participation of the community. In the current context, community participation in the management and preservation of the Meru Betiri National Park area can be developed through a conservation partnership scheme.

Through conservation partnerships, synergy, collaboration, and acceleration can be made in restoring ecosystems in the rehabilitation zone. At the same time, community empowerment can be carried out through strengthening the economy with a conservation dimension that can increase the income and welfare of the community. The importance of this conservation partnership scheme was revealed in the signing ceremony of the Conservation Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PKS) between the Head of the Meru Betiri National Park and the Chairperson of Block Number 9 A in the Curahnongko Village Hall, 09/03/2021. The event was supported by LATIN Bogor and USAID-BIJAK Jakarta.

On this occasion, Mr. Maman Surahman, S.Hut, MSi, Head of the Meru Betiri National Park said that the signing of the Conservation Partnership PKS was great momentum for the community and the ranks of the Meru Betiri National Park to work together for forest conservation and at the same time. increase in the community’s economy. Since this second, we both stand side by side and take shelter in the extended family. Communities and regions are not only neighbors but grow and merge into one vision and mission. We must ensure that the commitments that have been stated in the partnership PKS can be realized with full sincerity and a high sense of responsibility.

It was further emphasized that the presence of women representatives in this event reflected a gender perspective. Therefore, women are a potential resource that can be optimized to contribute significantly to accelerating ecosystem restoration. Consistency and seriousness of women together with men in maintaining the staple plants that have been planted in community-managed areas is the key to their growth and development. Indeed, the road that must be traversed to restore the area is not always easy and beautiful. But full of challenges and obstacles. We must be battered to ensure that the land managed by the community can recover. The 7-hectare agroforestry demonstration plot is a clear example, that serious efforts to restore damaged forests can be realized. This should be an inspiration for Block Group Number 9 A and the rest of society as a whole.

On the same occasion, Arif Aliadi, LATIN’s Program Associate emphasized that the conservation partnership agreement (PKS) can be a strong legal basis for the community to gain rights and access to community-managed areas in the rehabilitation zone and get long-term benefits as a source. sustainable livelihoods. LATIN has been working with the community in Meru Betiri National Park since 1993. And only today was the signing of a Conservation Partnership PKS between the community and the Meru Betiri National Park. With the signing of the PKS, the Conservation Partnership can become a legal umbrella for the community to manage the rehabilitation zone in a sustainable manner; the forest is sustainable, the people are prosperous. In addition, the existence of a conservation partnership can also be a strategic entry point for the Jember Regency Government and Meru Betiri National Park Managers to integrate policies, programs, and activities so that schemes can be designed to accelerate the restoration of the area’s ecosystem and at the same time be a leverage for the economic movement of the community around the forest collaboratively and acceleratively.

Further delivered by Bambang Bukadi, PJ. Head of Curahnongko Village, that the Meru Betiri National Park area is a life support system. Therefore, its existence as a source of hydrology can be properly maintained. So that the events of floods and landslides that had occurred in the past, do not happen again and do not become an annual cycle. Starting from this historic moment, we must together ensure that our cultivated land can be planted that combines conservation value and high economic value crops. So that it can have a multiplier effect, on the forest recovery, and the community will also get productive economic benefits. Furthermore, the benefit can leverage the progress of economic development of the village community as a whole,  He concluded.