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Resilient Social Forestry in Indonesia: The Impact of KUPS Lestari

Program Year: 2024

The Indonesian village of Malitu is famous for its vast forests of palm trees and palm sugar production. Yet, obtaining a license for the granulated palm sugar product has been no easy task for the Malitu people, who often waited years for approval while a large industrial timber plantation controlled the land. When the plantation’s permit eventually expired, our local partner, Sokola Mombine, aided the village administration in promptly seeking the social forestry permit. After applying for the permit in 2018 and 2022, Malitu was granted a 433-hectare social forestry management permit for a village forest to enhance the community’s well-being through sustainable management and utilization.

Now, only four months into this year, the village has already produced 60 kg of granulated palm sugar. However, despite the long history of palm sugar production, the community has been unable to make a profit. Enter Lestari—a Social Forestry Business Unit (KUPS) established by the village’s forest management group to support increasing the market value of Malitu’s palm sugar. Before the formation of KUPS Lestari, men were responsible for making palm sugar, while the women stayed at home doing household chores. The KUPS allows women to actively participate in economic development within their community, changing the pervasive division between genders in rural villages.

Through PSPGM (Social Forestry for Women and Young Generation) program, and with funding from Google.org’s Impact Challenge for Women and Girls, our Environmental Government program works together with local partner Sokola Mombine to provide training on sales and marketing. The program also assists in obtaining product licensing and halal certifications for the village’s granulated palm sugar. Securing a halal certificate is a monumental achievement for the KUPS Lestari. Given that the majority of the population in Malitu village is Christian, the community has rallied to ensure all of the sugar production houses adhere to appropriate standards and maintain a sterile environment. The halal certification opens up sugar to a larger market and maintains standard product quality, which follows the process conducted by the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises, the Department of Health, and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Social forestry is the sustainable management of forests carried out in state forest areas or customary forests by local communities or customary law communities. They are the key players in enhancing the environmental equilibrium, sociocultural dynamics, and the community’s well-being (LHK Ministerial Regulation Number 9/2021).

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