Author: Nur Faiz Ramdhani (Forestry Engineering 2015)
SITH.ITB.AC.ID, JATINANGOR – Three important aspects that need to be considered in sustainable forest management are environmental, economic and social aspects. Community forests (a forest that officially owned by the community) have different characteristics from state forests in terms of their management, especially their economic and social aspects. The Forestry Engineering study program through Community Forest Management course that was taught by Dr. Tien Lastini S.Hut, M.Sc and Dr. Sopandi SunaryaS.Hut, M.Si, to introduce the students directly to the forest which was managed by the community along with the management system through field lectures.
The field study held on Saturday (24/03) was held in the Gunung Geulis Educational Forest Area (KHDTK) – ITB, precisely in the village of Sawahdadap, Cimanggung district, Sumedang city, West Java. The main activities conducted by students were studying the physical characteristics of community forests, analyzing the financial value of community forests and analyzing the sustainability of forests managed by communities on one of the land owned by the community.
In the community forest of Sawahdadap village, people plant seasonal crops under the shade of forest plants to meet their daily needs. Most of the seasonal plant species in this community forest are coffee, chili, red ginger, and taro (talas). The seasonal plant grows under the shade of white teak, tisuk and sengon. This planting system (called Agroforestry) enables people to obtain daily yields from their land continually without having to wait for logging which taking up to 5-10 years
The interesting thing about community forest management in Sawahdadap is that the community has a high awareness about the importance of planting forest plants (trees)This awareness emerged since the occurrence of landslides at the village of Sawahadadap several years ago. Previously, many people planted cassava on steep terrain, which was the cause of high erosion and an increased risk of landslides. Then, The community began substitute cassava plants with forest plants, realizing that trees are important to reduce the risk of landslides and could maintain water sources for their lives. Moreover, it enable the community to get profits through the harvesting of timber and the results of seasonal crops such as coffee and chili. Besides, the community of forest also said they were glad to hear the news that the Gunung Geulis forest management was managed by ITB with SITH as the coordinator by now. The community really hopes to be able to cooperate in managing the forest in the Gunung Geulis area and integrated with the management of community forests and with their social schemes.
“Fertile forests, prosperous societies, (Hutan Subur, Masyarakat makmur)” said one member of the farmer group in Sawahdadap village, that was the philosophy that would be applied in the management of community forests. Learning forest management directly from the community is important for foresters because foresters have to understand the world view of natural forests and private forests to manage forests sustainably. Forest management will be sustainable if the community has a sense of ownership and get benefits directly from the existence of forests. This field study is necessary for Forest Engineering students so that the engineering solutions that will be applied by foresters can be accepted by the community. So that, there will be a sustainable forest management, especially for private forests or community forests.