Supporting integrated forest management in the Getas-Ngandong Teaching Forest, Indonesia, through inclusive land-use planning

In 2016, the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry entrusted Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), a premier research university, to manage the 10,987-hectare Getas-Ngandong forest as a ‘teaching forest’. The forest, situated at the border of the Central and East Java provinces, was previously a teak production forest managed by the state-owned company, Perum Perhutani. More recently, it was classified by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as a Forest for Special Purpose (Image 1). At UGM, we are now considering how to manage the forest to meet the needs and vision of those associated with the university and the surrounding local community.

Image 1: The Getas-Ngandong forest straddles two administrative areas, Central Java and East Java Provinces. Source: Faculty of Forestry, UGM

Tenurial conflict and the management of the Getas-Ngandong forest

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Reformation Era in Indonesia was at its inception and law enforcement in the land sector was generally weak, a significant amount of timber was illegally harvested in the Getas-Ngandong forest and parts of the forest were converted into maize plantations. This led to a prolonged tenurial conflict between Perum Perhutani and the surrounding villagers. Even when Perum Perhutani started to develop community-based forestry management approaches, the conflict persisted.

As the new manager of the Getas-Ngandong forest, UGM, through its Faculty of Forestry, is seeking to help resolve the conflict and develop win-win approaches for forest management in Getas-Ngandong that are acceptable to the many stakeholders involved. While the Faculty plans to use the forest as a teaching, training and research centre for members of the university’s community (Figure 2), villagers who live in and around the forest still want to use the area to plant commodities, such as maize and sugarcane, to support their income. Currently, UGM is developing an agroforestry landscape, with maize and ginger intercropped with teak plantations, in collaboration with local communities.

The lecturers assist UGM students to build a ‘student forest’ in Pitu village, Getas-Ngandong forest. In 2022, they started planting cardamom under the forest stands. Source: Faculty of Forestry, UGM

At the same time, there have been concerns about the degraded state of the forest (Figure 1). We therefore plan to rehabilitate it to enhance the ecosystem services it provides. We are also working with other stakeholders, namely government institutions and private companies, on forest rehabilitation activities. In some areas, we have started to plant diverse tree species, such as avocado, mango, jackfruit and petai.

Figure 1: The forest area (green colour) has decreased over the last 25 years. Source: Faculty of Forestry, UGM.

Exploring future land-use scenarios to inform forest management

To meet these goals, meticulous participatory planning and innovative approaches are needed. We have discussed with the community members the idea of conducting social forestry or agrarian reform programmes in the area. We have also experimented with the European Forest Institute’s Land-use Planner tool to identify potential future land-use scenarios and their associated economic, environmental and social impacts.

Land-use typeArea (ha)
Maize6 487
Teak forest2 000
Teak intercropped with maize1 500
Fallow area500
Total10 987
Table: Current land-use types in the Getas-Ngandong forest

At present, land use in the Getas-Ngandong forest is dominated by maize plantation (approximately 70% of the area, see table above). The rest of the area consists of teak plantations, intercropped teak-maize and sugarcane, as well as fallow area. Using the Land-use Planner, we developed four scenarios to identify the potential impacts of land-use planning decisions within the Getas-Ngandong forest.

1. Default scenario

The default scenario is based on the current situation, where the total local population is around 47 922 people and population growth is 0.41%. Over a 30-year simulation period, as population grows, the Land-use Planner calculates that the teak forest area will decline slowly while the agricultural plantation area increases (Figure 4). One of our goals is to restore the forest area and maintain the current forest area as forests. We therefore need to consider other scenarios that better balance forest and agricultural land uses. These scenarios also have to offer a win-win solution for UGM through collaborative land management with the local community, which is highly dependent on the area.

Figure 2: Land-use changes envisioned in the default scenario, a business-as-usual scenario in which agricultural plantation expands as a function of population increase. Source: UGM Land-use Planner project

2. Maize expansion scenario

The second scenario explores the effects of agricultural land-use expansion, a likely scenario in the absence of land-use planning. This scenario aims to simulate the occurrence of land cover changes by converting the teak forest to maize plantation and increasing sugarcane expansion. This scenario results in a massive increase in the deforestation rate (up to 300 %). It leads to the loss of the teak forest at the end of the simulation period. By looking at the results, our forest managers can see that without land-use planning and a forest management system that addresses the communities’ desire to extend crop production, the forest area is at risk.

Figure 3: Land cover change simulation based on scenario 2. Source: UGM, Land-use Planner project.

3. Teak scenario

In this scenario, we explored the replacement of sugarcane plantation with teak forest, the expansion of teak forest into maize plantation and the expansion of sugarcane plantation on the maize plantation area. In this scenario, the teak forest cover will increase significantly for the next 30 years. However, it is less plausible to occur due to the dependency of the local community on the forest area for crop cultivation. An alternative scenario may be implemented using agroforestry systems (scenario 4).

Figure 4. The land cover change simulation based on scenario 3. Source: UGM, Land-use Planner project.

4. Agroforestry scenario

We also wanted to observe the land cover dynamic if we were to convert the maize and sugarcane plantation areas into teak forests and intercrop teak with maize. This is a strategy we are currently introducing to support local livelihoods. Through this agroforestry scenario, we seek to solve the land tenurial conflict.

Figure 5. The land cover changes simulation based on scenario 4. Source: UGM, Land-use Planner project.

Finding a balanced solution by assessing land-use planning options

Figure 6. Extract of Land-use Planner’s results. Source: UGM, Land-use Planner project.

Besides the land cover change dynamics, we can consider the pros and cons of our four scenarios based on several ecological, economic and social aspects presented in the Land-use Planner’s final results (Figure 6). The results suggest that scenario 4, our agroforestry scenario where teak is intercropped with maize, provides the best balance among ecological, economic and social benefits. Under this scenario, forest cover will increase up to 36% in 30 years. It also offers the best benefit distribution, highest amount of commodity production and a positive impact on employment opportunities. Generally, scenario 4 is in line with the objectives of addressing deforestation in the Getas-Ngandong forest and improving employment and livelihood opportunities of the local community.

With complex problems, measurable planning is critical to assist the decision-making process. Using the Land-use Planner to provide details on ecological, social and economic aspects has been a useful step in understanding potential management options and their consequences for the Getas-Ngandong forest.  

For more information, contact:

Bekti Larasati