Advocacy to Preserve a Peat Swamp Forest in Indonesia Using a Community-Based Management Approach: A Case Study of the Wahana Bumi Hijau Foundation
This paper is a case study of the advocacy and related efforts of a local Indonesian NGO seeking to preserve the last peat swamp forest in South Sumatra that is still of good quality. The paper follows the case study guidelines and research methodology for SIT’s Policy Advocacy Course-linked Capstone Papers.
The NGO is the Wahana Bumi Hijau Foundation (WBH), founded in 2001. The forest, located in the Muara Merang village, is important for many reasons, including the livelihoods of the local communities and its role as a buffer zone for the Sembilang National Forest. Yet it is under threats from forest fires, illegal canals, legal logging concessions, illegal logging, government policy, and an international port.
In order to address those threats, WBH has carried out a project with four main approaches: building up the local community economy, developing awareness of the importance of the peat swamp forest for the community, finding best practice of the forest, and securing government budgets. In other words, they have used both rights and needs-based approaches to collaboratively implement the project.
Using secondary and extensive primary data collected in the field, the paper discusses the context in which WBH works, the policy issues related to the forest and local communities, WBH’s advocacy targets and development targets, and the actions it took from 2002-2008. The paper concludes with answers to its primary inquiry questions: How effective was the advocacy effort? And, what were lessons learned that we may gain from the advocacy?