The Asian Regional Learning Exchange on Social Inclusion and Youth was jointly organized by the Coalition for Tenure Justice in Indonesia (KT), International Land Coalition (ILC), Samdhana Institute, and Tenure Facility (TF). This event brings together selected partners, members, and organizations working to advance community tenure security. The learning exchange began with a three-day field visit to four locations, one of which was the Dalem Tamblingan Traditional Area (ADT) in Catur Desa. There were 24 people from Nepal, India, the Philippines, Cambodia, Papua, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi) visited ADT.
Sunday, May 28th 2023
The group arrived at Wantilan (community hall) Gobleg around 11.30, greeted with kelepon (ball cake with brown sugar), boiled peanuts and coffee. The activity was opened by the Dalem Tamblingan Customary Dane Pengerajeg and the Chairperson of the Wisnu Foundation. Dane Pengerajeg said that there were at least three investors who had tried to invest in Alas Mertajati, and the last one was that the Indonesian government asked the ADT community to support the project plan. The request for Alas Mertajati to become a customary forest by the ADT community is intended to restore the sanctity of Alas Mertajati, leaving it as it is. Meanwhile, Chairman Wisnu said that the Wisnu Foundation was born in the ADT area, precisely in Munduk Village, 30 years ago.
After lunch, the activity continued with presentations from Mr. Putu Ardana (BRASTI Tamblingan) and Kasmita Widodo (BRWA), facilitated by Mr. Made Suarnatha (Wisnu). Pak Putu explained the history of the ADT community which was written in the Ugrasena inscription in the 9th century with the name Karaman I Tamblingan. At that time, they lived in the forest, Alas Mertajati. Then, with the awareness that the forest is a source of life and its purity must be maintained, Karaman I Tamblingan decided to move to the area under him which is currently known as Catur Desa (Gobleg, Munduk, Gesing, Umejero).
However, in the 20th century, during the Dutch administration, Alas Mertajati was designated as a Nature Reserve. In the 21st century, during the Indonesian government, some of them were designated as protected forests, and some as Nature Tourism Parks, which meant opportunities were opened for outsiders to invest in forest areas. This condition causes Alas Mertajati to experience degradation. So, at the same time as applying for Alas Mertajati to become a customary forest, the ADT community also formed Baga Raksa Alas Mertajati (BRASTI) to create a society that is prosperous, cultured, advanced, and whose landscape is maintained.
Meanwhile, Pak Dodo said that participatory mapping activities had been carried out since 1996 and that mapping of customary territories was not an easy activity, especially the time required for mapping implementation and agreement at the community level. So, policies/regulations, leadership, and institutions at the district level are important in supporting the successful mapping of customary territories. Other important factors are community commitment and solidity, as well as politics and the existence of a budget.
Furthermore, Margaretha Nilson from the Tenure Facility said that inclusion, connection, and unity are important. This already exists in the ADT community which consists of four villages. There is a very strong relationship between the ancestors, the current generation, and future generations, through the inheritance and the duties assigned to maintain the heritage. Rituals and ceremonies are ways to maintain identity. Humans are part of nature, as a unity of the universe.
Monday, May 29th 2023
The day’s activities began with a reflection on the previous day. Most of the participants stated that there were many lessons learned, among which the ritual and its ingredients were basically the way for the ADT community to do conservation because the various types of plants needed must still be available. Another interesting thing is the transfer of knowledge from the older generation to the younger generation through the Brasti institution.
The group then drove to Bencingah, and from there walked to Dalem Tamblingan Temple which is located by the lake. The trip takes about two hours, following a path in the middle of the forest, passing through various types of vegetation and sacred places for the ADT community. Upon arrival at Dalem Tamblingan Temple, the group continued their journey to Gubug Temple across the lake by pedau. This traditional boat is the only means of transportation that can and may be used on Lake Tamblingan, as an effort to maintain the quality of lake water.
Another effort in protecting the Tamblingan lake and forest that has been carried out by the ADT community is described by young people from Brasti through two videos that have been made. Both can be seen on the Wisnu Foundation’s YouTube channel (The Guardian’s struggle and Footsteps of the Guardian). The discussion that took place after the video was shown at Bale Melajah Alas Mertajati was exciting because it focused on the role of young people. One of the videos made by Brasti youths is intended as a campaign tool to provide ADT youth with an understanding of the current condition of Alas Mertajati. Through this video, it is also hoped that more ADT young people will want to join Brasti.
There is a lot of support received from Asia Learning Exchange participants, one of which is the number of IG followers @tamblinganku and Brasti Tamblingan’s YouTube subscribers are increasing. Some of the participants stated that they would invite young people in their area of origin to watch the videos, with the hope that the energy of the Tamblingan youth could be transmitted to young people in their area. The challenge is how to build proper communication between the two generations.
Reflection is done again before dinner. Almost all participants felt the enthusiasm and commitment of the Brasti youth. Video campaigns made using limited tools, such as cellphones, are a way to involve young people and provide understanding. The biggest challenge faced in involving more young people in activities is the existence of economic demands and activities carried out outside the village.
Tuesday, May 30th 2023
On day III, the participants were divided into two groups, which are the group that visited Gobleg Village and Umejero Village:
Gobleg Village: see and discuss land conversion that has occurred in Catur Desa. Initially the Alas Mertajati buffer area, including the Asah Gobleg area as the starting point for the visit, was an area with lots of large trees growing, one of which was a coffee tree with large bean sizes. Then the Dutch introduced a new type of coffee, and the Asah Gobleg area became a robusta coffee plantation with its shade trees. In the 80s, the price of coffee beans was very low and yields were also reduced. The community then tried to plant hydrangea flowers (hortensia), various types of vegetables, and oranges. If compared to one hectare of land (current prices), a coffee plantation produces 1 ton of dry coffee (around IDR 80 million per year), while a flower garden produces 3 quintal every week (around IDR 3,000,000, or around 150 million per year), including sales of vegetables and oranges.
Along with the inclusion of flowers and vegetables, cloves were also introduced. Clove trees are planted in lower areas of flower and vegetable plantations. Yields are highly dependent on the weather and prices also fluctuate. On average, one hectare of land can produce 1 ton at a price of around IDR 120 million. Even though it is a tree, cloves are almost the same as flowers and vegetables, that is, they cannot store water and cannot hold soil, and they must be planted in monoculture. This is a concern, even though the economic welfare of the ADT community has increased, it is very dependent on the market, and the balance and quality of the environment has decreased.
Thus, one way to try to reduce dependence on the market is to process “wild” food sources that are no longer considered, one of which is taro. Taro does not need to be cultivated, but it can grow among flowers, vegetables and cloves. The Gobleg women’s group processes them into chips.
Umejero Village: visit Umeduwe. It is said that after the ancestors decided to get out of Alas Mertajati, the first village built was Hunusan (currently called Gobleg). Furthermore, there are those who live in Tengah-mel (Munduk) and Pangi (Gesing). Dane Pengerajeg then ordered Belog Bengkung’s descendants to open settlements and rice fields (uma) outside the village. Then a source of water that could be used for irrigation was found, but it was blocked by a large rock. The Dane Pengerajeg gave him a stick to lift the stone, so that the water could flow. So, 30 acres of paddy fields were dedicated to planting ceremonial rice (red and white rice, white and black sticky rice), hence the name Umaduwe.
Besides rice fields, gardens are also a source of food. There are many types of plants that can be found, including various types of “wild” leaves for vegetables, spices, fruit (especially bananas), vanilla and coffee. Some of the bananas produced are processed into chips by KWT (Women Farmers Group) Sari Mekar. Coffee is also processed by KWT into ground coffee. Another business is making jaja (cakes), and two of them are served to guests who come, like lepet bugis made from sticky rice and purple sweet potato, as well as timus made from cassava. Interestingly, when visiting the garden there were ripe papayas, then they were taken to the rest area to be used as salad.
Visit Asia Learning Exchange closed at Wantilan Gobleg, while having lunch. As thanks and souvenirs, the participants received a goodie bag containing taro chips, banana chips and ground coffee.