Catastrophe and Regeneration in Indonesia's Peatlands. Ecology, Economy and Society.
Kosuke Mizuno, Motoko S. Fujita and Shuichi Kawai (eds
Kyoto-CSEAS Series on Asian Studies 15. 2016. Kyoto University. National University Press, Singapore, ISBN 978981-4722-09-4 (pb) in assoc. with Kyoto University Press, ISBN 978-4-87698-877-8. 466pp.
Background Scenario and Story, by reviewer Illegal forest growing stock use and land grabbing have been habitual practices in Southeast Asia, as elsewhere, as long as adat (customary law) and statute laws exist. Usufruct under adat permitted selective creaming of the common asset forest for special timber or non-timber-products and growing of food crops on land agreed by the community. Usufruct turned into overuse of forests and lands as population densities and market opportunities increased. Conflicts within and between communities and tribes arose but could be solved. This changed dramatically when intruding corporations introduced wholesale timber mining combined with land grabbing for plantations. Since the 1970s, Borneo and Sumatra became a Golcanda mine of wealth for a few. Slash-and-bum clearing before planting acacia and oilpalm and in peatlands associated chronic deep-peat burning caused haze and toxic smog which are hazardous to health, life and traffic in Southeast Asia and contribute to Global Climate Change (GCC). Early in the new millennium, a group of 13 scientists around Professor Mizuno responded by planning a multi-disciplinary case-study project to investigate the situation and problems in the peatlands of Sumatra as a contribution to the programme "In Search of Sustainable Humanosphere in Asia and Africa (2007-2012)" of the Global Center of Excellence at Kyoto University. This programme ventured to create a new academic paradigm for the 21st century by integrating humanities and natural sciences, fieldwork and theoretical studies. The project was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in Japan and in Indonesia by the government, universities, NGOs and apparently in some way by Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper. This corporation ranks with Asia Pulp and Paper among the globally largest logging, pulping and plantation companies. Both corporations operate in Sumatra and Borneo. A subsidiary of Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper, Sinar Mas Forestry, administers the Unesco-MAB Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve (GSK-BB BR) in the coastal plain of Riau, opposite Malacca and Singapore across the Strait of Malacca, an area with a turbulent natural and cultural history and many current forest and land use problems.
The Riau Province stretches from the foothills of the Sumatran north-south mountain range in the west to the coast of the Strait of Malacca in the east, an area of strong tectonic and volcanic activities associated with the subduction of the Indian under the Eurasian Plate and the Sagaing fault. The heavy Equatorial rainfall intensities caused and causes heavy erosion in the western hills and mountains even under pristine tropical rainforest. Sedimentation throughout the Quarternary (Pleistocene 1.6-0.1 mill. years B.C., Holocene 0.1 mill. yrs to the present) formed the large eastern costal plain and terrace landscape in which oligotrophic peatswamps have been formed in an environment of often violent and extreme (tornadoes, microbursts, cyclonic storms, flooding, drought, natural air-pollution, landslides) geomorphic, tectonic and climatic events and oscillations. The flora, fauna and the rainforest ecosystem adapted to sites and turbulence, risks and uncertainties by means of a species richness, dynamic physiognomic diversity, genetic heterogeneity and plasticity, dynamically fluctuating a, p and y species diversities as basis for adequate ecosystem elasticity, resilience, resistance, anti-fragility and repair capacity. As a consequence, today's natural forests here, as everywhere in the tropical rainforest zone, are site-adapted robust ecosystems managing to survive on vulnerable, easily eroded and degraded soils, but easy to conserve and manage if one understands them, but also easy to destroy by careless exploitation. Humans appeared in the Malesian Archipelago about 400,000 ago. The species migrated south collecting and hunting, inventing risk-containing spiritual and pragmatic rules of forest resource use, maintenance and modification Most are still observed by forest living people to survive and by foresters for sustainability. When expertise of fire control and the quality of tool making permitted, village-based slash-and-burn rotational agriculture, agroforestry and agriculture developed. New risks were encountered: site and soil degradation, loss of production and productivity, increase of pests and diseases. Risk evasion meant to migrate to new territories but encounter the risk of war or to remain and supplement livelihood by riveraine and maritime trade and encounter the risks of piracy, competition and feudal domination. The "native immigrants", having settled in Riau chose to stay and trade. Their land, edging one of the great global trade highways, became a hotspot of quests for domination and trade monopolies This stimulated riveraine and maritime legal and illegal trades, including smuggling illegally logged ramin (Gonystylus bancanus Sym.) and belian (Eusideroxylon zwageri Teism.& Bin.) to Malacca or Singapore, but hardly changed the customary lifestyle. After the collapse of European imperialism (1505-1950 A.D.), the failure of Japanese (1894-1945) and US-American (1898-1973) attempts at domination, and the denouncement of World Revolution by China and Soviet Union, nothing seemed be in the way of sustainable development in peace, freedom and justice.
However, in the 1960s, history made a U-turn. Uninhibited and ruthless neo-liberal forces in the world of politics, finance and economics (motto: the neo-liberal free markets of trade and politics are for profit and power, not morals and ethics) made uninhibited exploitation and profit maximising acceptable business practices. This created eco-(ecology, environment, economics)-system imbalances by excess of positive feed-back loops (the more you deceive, exploit resources and evade responsibilities, taxes and duties, the more and faster you profit and become rich). One result in Southeast Asia is the castrophe which Bambang Hero Saharjo describes for Sumatra in the CFA Newsletter No. 72, March 2016, p. 12-13, under the title "Indonesian free smoke/haze from forest and land fires". The Riau Provice of Sumatra has been the leading hot-spot of the Sumatra-Borneo slash-and-burn catastrophe. In 2015, the emission of CO2 and CH3 with the haze exceeded the total emissions for the same year in the whole European Union.
The review of the book The book's fourteen authors say in the Acknowlegements that the planning of the case-study project of surveying tree and oilpalm plantations and their ecological, economic and social effects hit many problems. The project proposal needed acceptance by the local people, local to central governments, and private logging and plantation companies in the area and the participation of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and the Universities Bogor Agricultural, Gajah Mada and Riau. In the Preface, K. Sugihara and K. Mizuno mention the concepts of "humanosphere, biosphere and geosphere", their sustainability in the tropics and the conceptual bias introduced by developed countries (the "West" and Japan). Three fundamental shifts of paradigm are proposed for the Tropical Rainforest (TRF) zone: first, from the exclusive focus on production and productivity to a more general "humanosphere" perspective; second, from temperate zone perspective to that of the biomass- and energy-rich tropics; third, from sectoral tunnel views to the comprehensive perspective of a sustainable humanosphere, consisting of geophere, biosphere and human society. Regeneration of tropical biomass societies concerns the contemporary and excludes fossil biomass. Biomass societies are those which sustain themselves on the rich biological resources of their habitat or region. Riau on Sumatra has been chosen as the study site because of the accelerating deforestation to supply mass consumption elsewhere, but also because "the peat swamps, once a treasure trove of biodiversity, have suffered tremendous damage". The preface ends with 24 frontipieces in the form of several hand-drawn maps and photographs of selected aspects of the catastrophe caused by destructive and exploitative new forms of land use and of regeneration of peatlands, forests and biomass societies.
The Introduction: Perspectives on Tropical Biomass Societies by K. Misuno, M.S. Fujita, K. Watanabe & S. Kawai broadly reviews the history of peatlands and peatswamp forests in Southeast Asia, forests and land laws in Indonesia and the goal and specific aims of the project. Some goal-relevant terms, such as biomass society, people's forestry, community forestry and social forestry are defined in context of the project. The analysis of biomass society in the project includes (1) environmental characteristics, vegetation productivity, carbon and water cycling, (2) assessment of the ecosystem, biodiversity and ecosystem services and (3) current status and historical development of the local communities at the sites of biomass production. The 14 research scientists of the project, 12 Japanese and 2 Indonesian, all with some prior or existing link to Kyoto University, were divided into three teams for case studies of ecology, economy and society in the field and each to report in one part of the three parts of the book.
The subject of Part 1 of the book is the Scope of Tropical Biomass Societies. An introductory preview by S. Kawai presents a broad picture of the history in the past two centuries and the current situation in land and forest use, the state of biodiversity and biomass production after the late 20th century shift to mass production in plantations. Chapter 1 Land and Forest Policies in Southeast Asia, by K. Mizuno & R. Kusumaningtyas is preceded by an unnumbered introduction contrasting the three worlds of politics, of land and forest policy and of reality in Thailand, Burma/Myanmar, and Indonesia. Sect. 1.1, Land Policy and Forestry Policy in Southeast Asia, Subsection (Sst) 1.1.1 State Declarations of Domain, Rights of Ownership describes the main features of the State Declaration on Domain (Agrarian Law of 1870) which defines the customary and legal rights of forest land ownership, the need for application to have these rights registered and the leasing of forest land to private companies. Ssn. 1. 1-2 Establishment of Scientific Forestry gives an overview of the history under the Sultanates followed by the attempts of the government since the early 19th century and the Forest Service (est. 1866) to establish a science-based sustainable forest management, but the authors stray into forest law and practice in Thailand which are not really relevant. It does not mention the contributions of international and national institutions to the art and practice of forestry in Indonesia.
Ssn. 1.1-3 Extensive Granting of Logging Concessions, Industrial Tree Plantation Concessions and Promotion of Social Forestry treats the politically sensitive subjects in general without analysing the causes and effects of careless excessive issue and criminal abuse. Social forestry is thought to be traditionally confined to forestry in state forests and "is carried out on state forest land with no land right granted to local people and with detailed regulation over what can and cannot be planted. People's Forestry is thought to be a new concept. Both thoughts are of course wrong. In the 19th century, the second Rajah of Sarawak integrated both in his concept of communal forestry. The third Rajah made them the all-inclusive principle and leading priority of the government's declared forest policy which is still valid. The authors also do not supply rigorously systemic regeneration and system reform strategies, but prefer to suggest specific damage repair tactics, such as restoring groundwater tables or planting of trees. Sect. 1.2 Forest Policy in Indonesia during the Colonial Period, Ssn. 1.2-1 Forest Policy on the Island of Java and 1.2-2 Forest Management on the Outer Islands are interesting accounts of the historic development since the 17th century with interesting examples demonstrating the interdependence and interactions between forest usufruct harvesting, rive-rain and maritime trade, political structure, effectiveness of governance, foreign influences, forest resource conditions and sustainable forestry development. On p. 38 it is said that "Whereas German forestry since the 19th century was seeking to improve production efficiency through continuous reforestation of a small number of tree species, British colonial forestry was focused on village forestry and the mobilization of local community members using the taungya method." It is not as simple as that. The British botanist Roxburgh proposed in the 18th century to reduce the rate of deforestation and start large-scale afforestation in India to counteract local to regional, possibly global changes of climate towards greater dryness, but the Colonial Office in London did not act. In mid-19th century Burma, the British Colonial Officer, Brandis (a German in the British Colonial Service in India) did not focus on village and taungya, but on ways to control greedy timber merchants who incited villagers to overlog and on the development of silvicultural systems for natural tropical forests, including teak taungya for Burma. In Japan, three German professors introduced the art of sustainable forestry by teaching traditional (German) forestry at university level towards the end of the 19th century. In China, German foresters successfully introduced complex afforestations to control desertification, and uniform plantations to produce pitprops in the 19th century. Sect. 1.3 Land Policy in Indonesia during the Colonial Period concentrates on the Declaration of Domain (state ownership of all unused forest land) in the Agrarian Decree of 1870. Sect. 1.4 Land Policy after Independence contains information on the major changes introduced by the Agrarian Act of 1960 and on the continued legal and practical inequalities in forest land ownership and forest use. Sect. 1.5 Forestry Policy after Independence, Subsn 1.5-1 Forest Policy and Forest Area quotes the Forestry Act of 1967 which established state control over the three recognised ownership categories of forests: 1. private, customary individual and communal rights (adat) forests, 2. the permanent state-owned forest estate and 3. state-owned land-reserve forests. Since the late 1960s, logging and plantation concessions were freely issued without prior resource and ownership-claim surveys to a large number of private companies for large tracts of forested land in the outer islands (outside Java). If the companies later found the forests and lands not suitable or timber stocks insufficient for their purposes, illegal logging and land encroachment into adjoining native adat land was the answer. In Ssn 1.5-2 Large Scale Forest Development: the Case of the Sumatra the situation is narrated, supported by some data, rather than analysed, and not followed by a problem analysis and goal setting discussion. In Sumatra, the 1983 Consensus on Forest Zoning could not prevent legalised and illegal "accelerated forest use" by clear-cut logging and slash-and-burn conversion to acacia and oilpalm plantations. Ssn 1.5-3 Social Forestry gives some information and statistical data, based on the authors' wrong assumption that the principle of Social Forestry should be and is in Indonesia exclusively applied to state-owned forest lands.
Some described rural community forestry programmes on state forest land are examples of concretely practised Social Forestry. The examples from Java of privately growing teak and other timber species in tumpang sari (agroforestry) on state-owned forest land also show the major obstacles overregulated procedures of registration and, later, of permit issue to fell trees and sell the timber, and bribes demanded at each stage. These difficulties also stand in the way of projects to legalise, establish and organise hutan adat (forest under native customary right) and are not easy to overcome. Community forestry (1995) and People's Plantation Forest (2007) programmes in degraded forests on state forest land suffer from over-regulation, constant change of the complex legal, technical and financial regulations and lack of transparency, especially with respect to the ambiguous roles of developers, investors and administrators. The overlapping entities of hutan rakyat (forest of the people) and hutan hak (forest privately owned) are mentioned, but problems are insufficiently analysed, clarified and discussed. Similarly, financial aid and afforestation programmes are narrated, but not rigorously analysed. The unnumbered section Conclusions states that native land and usufruct rights (adat) claimed by local individuals and communities were largely ignored when the excessive issue of logging concessions happened after 1967. This and deficient law enforcement initiated semi-legal over-logging by the companies inside their concession and fully illegal logging outside. Locals followed suit and logged illegally inside and outside the concession areas. The, by number and area equally excessive, issue of industrial plantation licences after 1980 was not confined to barren land and degraded forests, but included large tracts of forests with merchantable growing stock for illegal logging, land under Native Customary Rights (adat) claims, and ignored environmental and social feasibility. Resource plundering accelerated when democratisation and decentralisation policies after the fall of the autocratic Suharto regime dissipated power of control and enforcement. All these malpractices are mentioned, but not analysed. The general trend to maximise present net values of returns by speeding and intensifying growing stock liquidation is briefly mentioned. Not mentioned at all are the crucial roles of international financial and economic consultants and of experts from national aid agencies and international institutions to persuade governments by unintentional deception or other ways to agree to a policy of rapid liquidation of growing stock, providing rationalising neo-liberal and neo-capitalistic theorems as excuses for these offences against sustainability. Often the hidden purpose was and still is to enable indebted governments to meet financial obligations arising from loans and balance their budgets. Maximising present cash returns, overlogging and illegal timber mining and trading accelerated. In connection with the conflicts over land in Riau, the authors remain silent on the social, ecological and environmental effects of the largely speculative plantation projects and the side-effects of subsidy programmes such as" REDD+ to fix atmospheric carbon dioxide in biomass and thereby mitigate GCC, and to create a resource for the "future tropical biomass society".
Chapter 2 The Biodiversity of Southeast Asian Tropical Rainforests, by M.S. Fujita & H. Samejima, is again introduced by The History and the Future of Human Relations with the Ecosystem which repeats what had been said before on the content and aim of the chapter. The well-known botanist and conservationist Willy Myers is cited, but not mentioned in the three sections of the chapter. Diversity is not defined and the traditional distinction in the art and practice of forestry of species richness and species diversity as a guide to silviculture is not made. The exclusive focus is on animal species occurrence and richness, which is not diversity. Knowledge and understanding gained recently in six years of multi-disciplinary and comprehensive biodiversity research in virgin, modified, degraded and cleared TRF in the Demarakot Forest Management Unit, Sabah, Malaysia (Kitayama, K., ed., 2013) on the state and dynamics of plant, animal and soil organisms species richness and diversity is not evaluated or mentioned. Therefore, the possible ecological role of species richness and diversity as causal factors in the network of ecosystem processes and functions, and as criteria and indicators in TRF ecosystem conservation and management, remain obscure. Frank H. Wadsworth, former Director of the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service, San Juan, Puerto Rico, experienced practical and scientific TRF forester and member of the ITTO mission to Sarawak in the 1990s, wrote to me on 4th Sept. 2015: "I have been monitoring forestry journal contents more than 30 years. Several trends have appeared. The subject matter has slipped from conventional forestry over into ecological details, only some of which are relevant for foresters. Some ecologists discover and publish what was forestry a century ago. Emphasis on forest fauna is good and very overdue". However, biodiversity research must not exclusively focus on fashionable birds and pet animals, ignoring fauna and ecosystem structure, processes and functioning. The most important drivers of species richness and diversity are the bio-volume and the physiognomic structure of the tree canopy from D to A storey. The proposals for improvement at forest stand and landscape levels are conventional, but practical. The conclusions (p. 81-88) are narrowly focussed on species richness and treat biodiversity as a background phenomenon.
Chapter 3, authored by S. Kawai and K.Watanabe, concerns Biomass Assessment of Afforested Regions in Tropical Southeast Asia. Assessment means evaluation and afforested includes reforested areas after clear-cut logging natural forest. In Sect.1, Introduction. The authors highlight the theme of C.3: the change from natural forest production of high-quality timber in natural forest for a quality demanding society to mass production for a visualised biomass society of mass consumers. Problems are the consequences of socially undesirable changes of landscape aesthetics and of ecological, environmental and socio-economic functions which high-yield plantations of fast-growing tree species, such as Acacia spp., Eucalyptus spp. and Paraserianthus falcataria Backer cause. Sect. 2 State of the Forests in Southeast Asia gives an overview and global comparison, using the FAO global forest resources assessment for 2005. On p. 95 it is said that the natural tropical forests are an extremely important component of the global forest area but are often cited as vulnerable due to their structural and functional features and site conditions. This emphasis on fragility and vulnerability of TRF is politically correct and helps to procure subsidies and research funds, but does not answer these puzzling questions: How did this fragile and vulnerable TRF survive the turbulent climate and geomorphology of the Pleistocene? Why are there so many species? Why is there so much species diversity and why are these not static, but dynamic? Are these perhaps the very reasons for the TRF's apparently intrinsic anti-fragility? Examples of biomass increment and yield, the efficiency of TRF as local carbon sink, an acacia plantation stock and flow patterns and sustainability in an acacia plantation are given in support of the theorem of paradigm shift to mass production and cultural change towards the future biomass society.
The subject of Part 2. of the book is Peat swamps as Sustainable Humanosphere: Their History and Ecology. A preface by M.S. Fujita abstracts the ecological and social contexts of the formation and utilisation of the peatswamps in Indonesia. Rapid exhaustion of the forests growing stocks and lands in the uplands has made the largely untapped peatswamp resource attractive to companies as an alternative source of timber and land. Rapid timber exploitation and conversion of large tracts of land to fast-growing tree plantations promised large short-term profits but have created the serious conflicts between local governments, local people and the exploitative companies, and threatened environmental, economic and social sustainability. In Chapter 4, Overview of Tropical Peatswamps, T. Shimamura highlights the ecology of peatswamp landscapes and peat swamp formation in tidal plains and on foothill terraces. Its conclusion prepares the reader's mind for the subjects of carbon fixing and biodiversity. Chapter 5, Socioeconomic History of the Peatland Region: from Trade to Land Development, and Then to Conservation by K. Masuda, K. Mizuno and K. Sugihara gives interesting detailed accounts of the history of the rise and fall of riveraine trade in biomass products, such as jelutong, natural rubbers, resins and planted pararubber, and the rise of maritime trade and smuggling in forest products. The treatment of the complex phenomena of multiple-cause deforestation and conflicts between the three principles: survival, sustainable development, profit maximising is too superficial and simplistic to satisfy the concerned reader. In Chapter 6, Local Communities in the Peatland Region: Demographic Composition and Land Use, K. Masuda, R. Kusumaningtyas & K. Mizuno introduce the local processes, the demographic and political impulses and the economic opportunities which drive the change from the uniform, static and small, river-side and estuarine trading or coastal fishing communities of the past to multi-ethnic, multi-connected, adaptive, dynamic, but also tension-riddled, large communities of the present. Inter-island migration programmes, such as transmigrasi (resettlement by migration to outer islands), introduced changes of land use technology and policy, including large-scale commercial and small-holder farm development of oilpalm and pararubber plantations, and more recently of tree plantations for mass production of pulpwood and industrial timber. Speculative plantation investments encouraged the change from customary, casual native illegal logging to large-scale illegal timber mining to obtain funds during the maturing phase of the plantation investments. Chapter 7, Tropical Peat Swamp Forest Ecosystems and REDD+ by S. Kobajashi sets the scene by stating that "One of the primary functions of forest ecosystems is carbon sequestration" and restoration of degraded peat and peatswamp forest "contribute to controlling global warming" (p.112). This is in principle correct, but unfortunately the contribution of forests is very limited and in the order of their share in the global surface area multiplied by the intensity of the exchange processes between canopy and atmosphere. The author states that peat is formed by mangrove. Soil organic matter is, but peat definitely not. Descriptions of conventional methods of biomass assessment, features of biomass restoration after clearfelling by succession or silviculture in various tropical forest types, and the effects of exposing peats and the various ways of utilising peat biomass are supported by tables and diagrams which are not easy to read, comprehend or to relate to the text. REDD+ is described as a safeguard at country and local project level. The author's statement: "Given that natural regeneration is extremely difficult once a peatswamp forest has been logged" (p. 216) is an unacceptable and potentially dangerous generalisation. But the author hits the point by emphasising the importance of efficient fire management and prevention, of peat restoration by groundwater regulation and "conversion to agricultural fields is not a suitable land use change". He should have added: as is the establishment of tree or oilpalm plantations on peat >1 m deep and on any land suitable for sustainable agriculture.
Part 3, The Case Study of Riau, begins with a summarising abstract of the book's Preface, its Introduction and Chapters 8-14, by K. Mizuno. The aim of Part 3 is to describe and discuss the peatland societies and "what the development of a humanosphere means" for the village communities in the Giam Siak Kecil-Bukit Batu Biosphere Reserve (GSK-BB BR). Chapter 8, Outline of the Survey Area in Riau Province, Indonesia by H. Susuki, H. Samejima, M.S. Fujita, K. Watanabe, K. Masuda & K. Mizuno repeats much of what has been said earlier in the book on the geography and history, but adds much more detail and data on demographic, ethnic, socioeconomic and infrastructural (roads, bridges, settlements) features and developments of Riau. Of the 51 villages in the GSK-BB BR, two in Bukit Batu District were subjectively chosen for the case study, one (Temiang) on peatland and one (Tanjung Leban) on alluvial soil. The zeal of the 51 village communities and the NGOs, the main stakeholders, to participate in the reserve is almost nil. There are tables with information on the village demography, the infrastructure of the biosphere management and the time schedule of its establishment, and a map with village positions and ethnic compositions. The Conclusion is more a summary than a forward looking scheme proposed as a strategy for regenerating improvements and reforms. Of particular interest to foresters is Chapter 9. Deforestation and the Process of Expansion of Oil Palm and Acacia Plantations by K. Watanabe, K. Masuda & S. Kawai. The changes of land use have "substantially altered not only the ecological environment but also the nature of biomass society. . . a negative feedback loop has been established whereby the production activities of business and small holders cause problems such as peat swamp deforestation and peatland fires that, in turn, hinder the production and social/economic activities of the same businesses and smallholders." That is true, the loop is negative: the more deforestation and fire, the less production and activities which cause deforestation and fire. Not mentioned, however, is that there are many other positive and negative feedback loops interacting in the natural and cultural ecosystems. If they are balanced, the ecosystem is balanced. If not, the ecosystem will change. If positive feedback loops prevail, catastrophes, such as the "haze", may occur. The role of this particularly quoted negative feedback can therefore only be appreciated if it is demonstrated as interacting in a wider, complex and dynamic system context. But this is not done. Instead, the current land and forest use and the history of logging and planting acacia and oilpalm in Sumatra and Kalimantan is described in form of narratives. "Sparse" (means open and degraded) forest as a result of carelessness and excessive logging intensity is rated as "secondary", which in fact it is not. The drivers behind the recent expansion of acacia and oilpalm plantation are Sinar Mas Forestry of the Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper Corporation, and Asia Pulp and Paper Corporation. Since 1998, forest small holders were financially supported by Malaysian merchants to log timber for the already thriving (smuggled and unrecorded) export market. The merchants supplied excavators to the smallholders for clearing rivers and creating canals to facilitate extraction. This in turn caused decline in groundwater levels, adding to the on-going peat degradation, emission of CO2 and CH3 and peat and peatswamp forest fires. The chapter ends with a summary, a proposal for regeneration and definition of the principles of the Biomass Society, which are in fact the proven traditional and conventional principles of sustainable village life and smallholder and communal forestry.
In Chapter 10. Rainfall and Groundwater Level Fluctuations in the Peatswamps, O Kozan gives a useful account based on observation of the rainfall patterns in Riau province, the effects of the southern oscillation (ENSO or El Nino) and Indian Ocean Dipole modes. Medium- and short-term rainfall fluctuation and rainfall distribution pattern were recorded in a peatland plantation and in a met station in an agricultural landscape. The hourly fluctuation of the groundwater level was recorded in a natural peatswamp forest and in an acacia plantation. The observed and obviously disruptive environmental and ecological effects, especially the weakening of the daily and seasonal hydrological cycle caused by large-scale plantations, need further clarification. In Chapter 11. Combined Biomass Production, the Local Economy, and Societies. K. Mizuno & K. Masuda present in great detail their views of the biomass society and its resources for the time beyond the current catastrophe. Statistics and data-based quantitative assessments would help to convince the reader. The method of their case study is described as a questionnaire based survey of 65 households selected from several parts of the hamlet Bakti and adjoining hamlets of a larger village community within the GSK-BB BR. The results are interesting demographic and ethnographic information. Variation in educational standards are more influenced by class than gender. Ethnic differences seem not to be an obstacle to peaceful coexistence and positive cooperation. This is not surprising in this area remote from deceptive metropolitan politics and brainwashing. Smallholders work on their (av. 6.9 ha) property and on adjoining land in semi-agroforest oilpalm plantations mixed with trees producing timber, resin, latex, pararubber and fruit. The texts on production, growth, yield of the various crops and activities, and the effects of the "Lehmann Shock" on the smallholders' income are supported by tables and figures. The data on the investments, especially for agrochemicals, and returns are given in Indonesian Rupiah. Using an international standard currency would have been more informative for non-Indonesian readers. Statistics are given on employment, loans for purchase of equipment and income. The features and traditions of "people's forestry" are repeated. The risk and uncertainty factors inherent in industrial plantation and smallholders mixed crop systems are brushed over and not discussed. The authors conclude by advocating "rewetting" of the peatswamps and promoting people's forestry. Improving chances of success requires simplification of the excessively complicated administrative procedures and regulations, especially those controlling timber harvesting and sale. The need to reform society, improve governance and restore ethics are not mentioned. Chapter 12. Biodiversity in Peat Swamp Forest and Plantations by H. Samejisma, M.S. Fujita & Ahmad Muhammad is in so far disappointing as the treatment of the subject follows the current fashionable trends to focus on fauna and rare and threatened animal species in ecosystem services context. The authors seem to misconceive biodiversity, which is a holistically integrated ecosystem survival device and, as was done before in Chapter 2, treat biodiversity as if it were a synonym of species richness and the state of the more popular rare and threatened pet animal species. Describing the situation in Sumatra in the introduction, the authors quote the number of species of mammals (201) and birds (580), but do not even mention the faunal species richness or that of soil organisms. The peatswamp forests are said to characterise the vegetation of Sumatra best. I disagree: it is, as any vegetation map (Fig. 12-1, p. 355) will indicate, still the lowland and hill Mixed Dipterocarp forest. Species occurrence data in peatlands are obtained by a well designed and extensive survey with automatic sensor cameras placed in legally over-logged and illegally logged natural forest, plantations and smallholder forest gardens. The data confirm the states of scientific knowledge and practical experience that selective logging does not have much impact, but high-intensity logging and conversion to plantation has. Species richness is high in villages and moderate in smallholder forests and forest gardens. The recommendations are conventional and remain on the level of traditional forest conservation and management, ignoring the fact that the real problems lie outside forestry in the political and economic-financial worlds. Therefore, sustainable solutions demand, first of all, reforms higher up in the social and power hierarchy. The important multidisciplinary and comprehensive Malaysian-Japanese biodiversity research project in Sabah, Malaysia (Kitayama, 2013) is not mentioned. Chapter 13. Biomass Production by Companies and Smallholders by K. Watanabe, S. Kawai, K. Mizuno & K. Masuda concerns some of the major sources, either companies or smallholders and farm-foresters, of biomass produced for consumption by the biomass society as it is visualised by the authors. The views and assumptions of the authors are narrowly exclusive. They do not assess the great importance and monetary and non-monetary values of non-production functions, which differ widely between the various types of biomass producing and site protecting man-made crops and natural forests. Unlike the smallholders, companies and their net-profit-maximising boards and financiers, as a rule, are only sensitive to the ecological, environmental and social effects of their operations if their profits are directly affected. The great variety of products traditionally grown in species-rich high-diversity home gardens is indicated by examples (Fig.13-2 and 13-3). The biomass accumulation rate and the management strategies in commercial tree plantations are compared with those in traditionally managed smallholder's rubber and oilpalm crops. The commercial plantations, as could be expected and is well known, have by far the highest rates (P. 394-6). There is no cost:benefit analysis and no assessment of social benefits and costs. In the last chapter, C. 14, The Rehabilitation of Degraded Swamp Forest Ecosystems, the authors, H. Gunawan & S. Kobayashi, state "Degraded forest refer to the state in which the forest can no longer regenerate itself. . . and enrichment planting is needed "(p. 399). This is wrong. There is no forest, however degraded, which can no longer regenerate itself. Enrichment planting is needed and rational only if a certain, narrowly defined target is to be met in a certain time. Given sufficient time, even the ulat-bulu (a defoliating caterpillar) die-back areas in Alan bunga peatswamp forests in Sarawak will regenerate and forest will develop on the barren slopes of the Krakatao islands by primary succession. But faunal richness, species spectrum and species diversity at a and p levels cannot be predicted. The authors' opinion is that forests regenerating after being degraded by nature or man are secondary forests. They are definitely wrong - these forests are not "secondary". The rehabilitation case study of the project in some of the 300,000ha overlogged, illegally logged and degraded peatswamp forest in the Riau Biosphere Reserve consists of a conventional enrichment planting experiment. Wild seedlings and nursery-rooted cuttings are planted and their growth, biomass production and carbon storage are monitored. The potential role of REDD+ is assessed. The participation of the local people in this project was disappointingly low due to lack of interest. The conclusion is that "there are few examples of real success. Forest rehabilitation is a task that can only be achieved over a long period of time by taking into account the livelihood of the local people and the reality of how people make their living". To this, I add: and how nature as well as the political systems and the networks of interests of conservationists, administrators and exploiters impact with what results.
The Epilogue Towards the Regeneration of Biomass Societies, written by the three editors and 8 Japanese coauthors, elaborates again on the nature and principles of People's Forestry which had been defined before as private smallholders' forestry on their own land in contrast to Social Forestry by the forest service on the state-owned forest land. A diagram (Fig. E-1, p.431) shows again the three different motives of three different production systems: survival by income from smallholders' rubber, oilpalm, wet rice on their own land versus conservation of biodiversity and biomass in natural peatswamp forest of wildlife reserves versus monetary profit in commercial oilpalm and acacia plantations. Unsustainable, neo-colonial exploitative yield-and-profit maximising principles in new production systems have generally replaced sustainable optimisation principles since the 1970/80s (Fig. E-2, p. 432). Local people can operate Social Forestry in state forest land (70% of the land surface of Indonesia, home to 40 mill. people) under permit. Obstacles are the excessively complex rules and overregulation. The authors suggest that these people should be given land ownership rights instead of permits, hoping that this will increase their security, encourage them to rehabilitate degraded forests and take advantage of REED+. People's forestry is thought to end illegal logging, rehabilitate peatlands and regenerate peatswamp forests and to reduce the present high levels of tension and conflict, encourage cooperation between smallholders and logging and plantation companies. This would be a first step toward a tropical biomass society and general harmony. To my mind, doubts arise that a combination of sustainable People's Forestry and probably financially, socially and ecologically unsustainable logging and plantation ventures would provide a sustained resource of forest biomass for a biomass society.
Conclusion There is no rigorous distinction made between damage-focussed repair tactics and systemic reform strategies applied at natural and cultural ecosystem levels. The shifts of paradigms towards non-productive functions of forests and integration of natural and humanity sciences are not as new as claimed, but traditional forestry of the classic art and practice of forestry in temperate and tropical forests. The authors' focus on biomass and the local people as biomass society accords with the priorities of mediaeval state and people's forestry in Germany at times of acute and survival-threatening timber and fuelwood famine. The authors underestimate the role and power of the driving force of the peatland catastrophe: the complex corporations-investment bankers -government-network of interests and the financial causal factors determining policies and politics, being supported by politically convenient education and information strategies. The nature, background and history of the peatland catastrophe have not been sufficiently investigated to obtain the data and information for designing strategies of regeneration and reform. The proposed schemes of regeneration of forests and sustainable development of forestry are essentially conservative restoration and do not interfere with the corporative logging and plantation strategies. Lack of system thinking underestimates the intrinsic uncertainties of complex dynamic systems. The book closes with a brief Glossary. Foresters and ecologists would object to some definitions. "Virgin/primary forest" is not exclusively "old-growth forest" and certainly is not dependent on that "there is absolutely no trace of human activity". There are short professional CVs of the 14 contributors and an Index.
The value of the book lies in the information on the natural and cultural history and present state in a selected area of the Riau province. The large amount of statistical data and information on all aspects of village life and the activities of villagers to make a living and to survive in a fairly challenging world are interesting. Thus far, the book is unique in the TRF zone. It is a valuable source of detailed data and information on present village life set in the frame of the historical development of the natural, economic, social and political environment at a critical turning point. Outside these subjects, it is very narrowly focussed on biomass and biomass society. It presents the views of specialist scientists who know little about forestry, system science and how complex dynamic systems, indeterminism and uncertainty principles from nuclear level to universe work. The researchers and authors appear reluctant to expose or do not know the system of convoluted financial, economic and political power behind the "haze catastrophe". The book is weak on forestry science, technology and history, on ecological and environmental sciences and on the state of international forestry literature. A weak and inconsistent structural layout causes frequent repetitions with inadequate cross-referencing making reading sometimes tedious. In spite of this, I can recommend the book to students of forestry science and agriculture in the tropics, especially in SEA, professionals and people interested in the infrastructure and functions of villages and the activities of villagers in a tropical rainforest environment which is dramatically changing creating many risks and few certainties now and for an unpredictable future.
University of Hamburg, Germany
KITAYAMA, K. (ed., 2013). Co-benefits of Sustainable Forestry--Ecological Studies of a Certified Bornean Rain Forest. Springer Toky Heidelberg New York Dortrecht London. P.p. x+161
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|Publication:||International Forestry Review|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2016|
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