Monday, October 03, 2005

CBRM in Kwandang

Involving Community in Mangrove Management
A Lesson from Kwandang Bay, Gorontalo, Indonesia

By: Rahman DAKO

The community plays a pivotal role in a more suitable management of natural resources. That is a reason why bottom-up approach, in which community becomes a key factor of management, has become a new trend recently. Well and Brandon (1993) said that it has become rare to find a forest or park management project proposal that does not talk about local participation in conservation. It means nowadays local peoples are an important factor and their involvement is required in every single activities related to natural resources management project. Campbell & Vainio-Mattila (2003) it will be difficult to find a rural conservation project, which does not define itself as community-based. Some scholars argued that bottom-up approach is better for both social justice and sustainability of natural resources (Alder, 2000; DENR, 2001). On the other hand, top-down approach, which is the domination of government roles in management natural resources, has already been failure in many cases along side the need of more democratic and equal in natural resources management.

This paper will define concept of community-based management (CBM) and answer the question why it is important to implement in natural resources management. The second part will describe a short explanation about Indonesia, mangrove ecosystem, utilization and conversion, and the Indonesian government projects and policy related to the mangrove conservation and management. In the third, I will share our experiences as Non Governmental Organization (NGO) implementing community-based management while give a short explanation of number of activities related to CBM in Kwandang Bay, Indonesia. At the end, I will analyze CBM based on our experiences organizing the fisher-folk organization, which I identified as the best result of CBM in our project, and how the role of the organization in mangrove management in particular and coastal resources management in general.


Community-based Management (CBM) has already been used by many conservationists, donors, governments, NGOs and corporations for a few decades in many developing countries. The CBM is believed as an approach to promote sustainable environment, social justice, and development efficiency. The fundamental assumption is that the domination of state-based management has been a failure in taking charge of natural resources management. The factors which contributed to the failure are the lack of communication between resource administrators and users, and resistance by local stakeholders in implementation of appropriate plans (Glaser, 2003). On the other hand, the peoples who live close to a resource and whose livelihoods directly depend upon it relatively have greater interests in sustainable use and management of natural resources than the governments or corporations. Local communities are more cognizant of the intricacies of local ecological processes and practices, and they are more likely to effectively manage those resources through local or traditional form of access. Combination of conservation objectives and improving the position of impoverished rural communities can be offered by the CBM approach (Li, 2002; Brosius et al, 1998).

CBRM initiative is not new. There are many examples of CBRM practiced by indigenous people all over the world with their own ways. In Para Island, Indonesia, coastal community has practiced the initiative for more than 400 years by involving the community to manage coastal and fishing grounds (Mantjoro, 1996). The identical initiatives can also be found in many ethnic groups in the other islands of Indonesia. Pomeroy (1995) reported that in India, since 1920s, a community development program was introduced throughout the region.

CBM in coastal and marine areas, rural development, and fisheries development were evolved during 1980s (Kay and Alder, 2000). In 1980, the World Conservation Strategy, a commission in the United Nations Environmental Program and World Wildlife Fund, focused their conference on issues related to political, cultural and economic (The WCS, 2004). In 1982, World Congress on National Park in Bali emphasized the linking of protected area management with local area economic activity (Wells and Brandon, 1992). This concept was developed to link conservation with sustainable development, and led the establishment of Integrated Conservation and Development Plan (ICDP) (Kay and Alder, 2000). Later, the concept was applied in a number of National Parks in the whole world funded by World Bank, ADB, UNEP, and the other funding agencies related to the environmental and sustainable natural resources management.

CBM is an integrated environmental and resource management activities into people’s everyday lives, where community makes some resource management decisions (Kay & Alder, 1999 p.137). DENR et al, (2001) added that CBM is a process of involving local resources users and community members in active management and taking full responsibility for the process of coastal resource management planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Both explanations above emphasize that community is an integral part of management and as a key factor from the beginning to the end of managing natural resources process.

CBM becomes more suitable in natural resources management because of some reasons. Involving community in management resources provide a sense of ownership, responsibility, acceptability and stronger commitment on the part of resource users. Community will become more responsible if they feel that particular natural resources are owned by them. The most importantly, they will be more respect and will do everything if they know the particular natural resources can provide ‘benefits’ for them.

CBM is also more effective, equitable than centralized management. In terms of administration, monitoring and enforcement, it is more profitable from economic and social perspectives compared with classical management proposed by the government. People tend to be voluntarily protecting their own resources if we trust them. CBM is also flexible and adaptive to the specific and changing conditions because community has better understandings what they should do to solve a particular problem in a specific situation. In top down approach, for examples, usually decision making processes determined by the top level of bureaucracy which need more time and long process.

At last, the development of CBM meets with particular needs and conditions, and has a larger role for local indigenous knowledge and expertise. As we know, local peoples who have already live within their natural resources know better than the outsiders. They can determine what particular resources they need are and what are not. In many cases in Indonesia, government makes a wrong decision in determining the needs of particular village because they do not know well the village situation and what local people needs. For example, Indonesian government from top level in Jakarta determines that all of communities in the small islands are fishermen who suppose to be supported with the fishing tool or boat. In contras, some of indigenous people in many islands of Indonesia are farmers.

Kay and Alder (2000) identify some factors related to the characteristic of CBM. CBM is mostly initiated by local people, which have an informal organization such as family clan, tribe or any kind of relationships which are not include in ‘formal’ government management guidelines. Their type of leadership is usually mutual adjustment in which policy and decision making process are de-central and autonomy.

Even though many scholars argued that CBM is the best way to involve community in management, there are some critiques on CBM application. Many experiences found that CBM is not really a panacea for resources management (Kay and Alder, 2000). For the wider area, where multi-culture communities inhabited and more complex of natural resources, we cannot adjust by using a single management in this situation. It means we should combine CBM with the other approaches because not every community is suitable for CBM and not all elements of management authority can be allocated to the community. Russel and Harshbarger (2003) added that many donor institutions usually support a CBM initiatives financially, which is part of complex political process involving multiple constituencies, but sometimes they do not really understand for what they are donating towards. Mostly, the implementers’ understanding are based on natural resources systems, as opposed to an understanding of existing relationships between users and their resource, and on the assumption that since no ‘modern’ system has existed, no system exists at all. Some NGOs also have traditionally been rooted in the natural sciences, bring with them associated professional norms, prioritize conservation, lack of social sciences, and attempt to implement community-based initiatives.

In reality, the ‘marginalized’ communities/indigenous people sometimes are not similar to the CBM’s expectations. In my opinion, global market and interaction with outsiders have caused all of indigenous people change a little bit from their previous culture to follow ‘the modern’ one. They are also not always natural resources dependent communities. Lynch and Tallbott, (1995) said that they are strategic and rational actors rather than ecologically noble savage. They are also often heterogeneous and unequal. Sometimes they are mobile as they seek a better opportunities outside their place (Li, 2002).


Indonesia has 5 major islands, Sumatera, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Papua (Irian Jaya), with the majority of the total population, & approximately 17,500 medium and small-size islands. It becomes place of more than 217,825,400 people (DKP, 2004), which consists of more than 400 hundred ethnic groups. Most of the ethnic group has their own language, so that at least 383 languages still exist in Indonesia today. Every ethnic group has their own culture, customs, language, and identity.

Indonesia is a country with the second longest coastline in the world behind Brazil. It has 81,000 kilometers coastline and 80% of population live within 100 kilometers of the coastal area. 75% of Indonesian territory is coastal and marine and fish consumption is 66% (DKP, 2004). As a tropical country and the largest archipelagic country, Indonesia identified as one of the biodiversity hotspot among 17 places in the world (Cox & More, 2000; DKP, 2004).

One of the coastal ecosystems which become characteristic of tropical region is mangrove. Mangrove, coral reef, estuarine wetlands, and sea grass bed plays an important role in global primary productivity (Vannuci, 2004). Mangrove ecosystem in Indonesia covered an area of 4,250,000 hectares in 1982. Unfortunately, due to various human-induced pressures, it decreased became 3,700,000 hectares in 1992 and in 2003 only 2,500,000 hectares remained (Soegiarto, 2004).

Mangrove ecosystem has highly diversity of species, which Indonesian mangrove is the highest degree of it (Soegiarto, 2004). Indonesia have recorded 189 species of plant, including 80 species of trees, 24 species of lianas, 41 species of ground-covering plants, 41 species of epiphytes, and 3 species of parasites (Kartawinata et al and Giesen in Soegiarto, 2004). Mangrove also becomes habitat for birds, insects, reptiles, crustaceans, and mammals. A number of endangered and endemic species of mammals in Indonesia reported remain in mangrove area such as Tarsius spectrum, Sulawesi monkey Macaca nigra, and endemic Sulawesi wild pigs Babirousa babirousa. Many others important and economic species of fish and mollusks are spawned in mangrove area. Mangrove also has many physical functions, such as prevention of erosion, coastal stabilization, and serve pollution trap.

Mangrove are used and conversed in many ways. For centuries, Indonesian people have utilized mangrove for fire wood, charcoal, tanning dyes, timber, and boat construction. Nypa, one of mangrove species, is used for roofs, baskets, cigarette papers, sugar, and palm wine (local: arak). Mangrove ecosystem is also conversed to become agriculture field such as rice field and coconut plantations. Housing complexes, industrial sites, recreational areas, harbor developments, warehouse compounds are also the other examples of conversion of mangrove ecosystem which are found in many parts of Indonesia.

One of the most destructive ways of mangrove conversion is fish and shrimp aquaculture. In Indonesia, aquaculture increase during 1970s along with the ‘blue revolution’ in many part of the world (Stonic, 2000), and it is identified as a main problem of lost of a half of Indonesian mangrove areas for two decades. Even though there are some problems related to management of shrimp aquaculture in Indonesia, it seems that this activity still increase recently.

Government of Indonesia has many programs related to mangrove conservation and management. They consist of replanting and restoration projects, policy making processes, establishing green belts, proposed and establish marine nature reserves and protected areas, built a mangrove center in Bali, and number of projects related to community development. However, Indonesia, which has a huge number of populations and a multi-culture country, needs a ‘specific’ cultural-based management approach to be applied in every ethnic group. Failure of Indonesian government’s management during Soeharto era was generalizing management of natural resources from the top of government in Jakarta and applied it similarly in the whole archipelago in provincial, district thorough village level. CBM is one of alternative approaches in Indonesian context with high degree of coastal biodiversity and high divers of social and culture.


Kwandang bay is located in Gorontalo Province, in the northern part of Sulawesi Island. Sulawesi is the main island of the bio-region known as ‘walacea’ and has high levels of endemism. Sir Alfred Russel Walace (1823-1913), the British explorer from whom the region takes its name, wrote in 1860 of Sulawesi: ‘it is yet extraordinarily rich in peculiar forms, many of them unique upon the globe’ (The Wallacea, 2004). Sulawesi is home to many others of these forms, including the endemic Sulawesi anoa (a rare horned buffalo), more than one hundred species of birds, a locally endemic species of Macaque and a tiny species of nocturnal primate called the spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrum). Frequently, both Macaque and Tarsius are found in mangrove forest in Kwandang Bay.

There are 2 sub-districts in Kwandang Bay: Kwandang and Anggrek. Kwandang sub-district divided into 10 villages and Anggrek 12 villages. Total areas of the 22 villages are 56,774 hectares, including 2,700 hectares mangrove forest. The bay also has 6 small white-sandy beach islands. Population of the bay is 43,693 in 1995 with the population growth 2.39%. Most of them are fishermen and farmers. The predominant religion is Islam (95%) and Christianity and the others are about 5%.

Kwandang is an important area for Gorontalo province because it becomes a main source of natural resources including fish, crab, algae, sea weed, timber, agricultural product, and sand mining. Kwandang is also one outlet of Gorontalo to the other province because the biggest harbor in Gorontalo is placed there (Kelola, 2004a; Kelola, 2004b).

Even though Kwandang Bay has huge natural resources, there are some problems related to mangrove conservation in the area. Increasing of shrimp/fish aquaculture is the biggest problem in the bay. As a result, almost a half of mangrove areas were conversed to shrimp or milkfish ponds. Intrusion of sea water face to the rice paddy agriculture and most of wells as main drinking-water sources for community have intruded by salty-water. In addition, most of the people also do not have alternative incomes unless fishing and ‘small’ farming. Few of them become labors in shrimp aquaculture. Meanwhile, in the dry season, people suffer the lack of food especially a need of carbohydrates sources . In this difficult situation, people tend to cut mangrove and sell them as timber or fire-wood or even performed illegal blast and poison fishing. Some of them go out looking for a job in the nearer cities.

During 1995 – 1997, government of Indonesia through Forestry Department implemented a program called Mangrove Rehabilitation and Management Project in the bay. As an Asian Development Bank loaned project, it implemented to reduce the problem of mangrove resources depletion. The project has some activities which related to mangrove conservation such as community development, awareness and restoration. Some models were applied including empang parit (shrimp pond surrounded by mangrove) and replanting mangroves in some villages.

Unfortunately, the mangroves replanting program did not really gain success. In some areas a few of mangrove grew well but most of the plots were unsuccessful. Babo (1998), one of consultant of the project said that the project success as low as 15 - 40% because of less control after replanting, poor quality of seed, site unsuitable for species planted and lack of community involvement. She added that the first three factors are not very serious because technical problems can be solved. However, the last factor is outside control of rehabilitation implementers. In this situation, involving community in the project is needed to gain a better result in replanting and management of mangrove conservation. In replanting project, government paid a group of people to search mangrove seed, planting, and maintenance the mangrove seedling. The community who involved in this project were not really based on their awareness of mangrove conservation but relatively based on how much money they earn in each seed they plant. The conservation are not really based on what the community need.

Failure of government’s replanting project became an important experience in managing mangrove in Kwandang bay. KELOLA Foundation, a Northern Sulawesi-based non governmental organization, proposed a CBM program called Preparedness and Community Awareness for Mangrove Rehabilitation and Management Project in 1997. I involved in this program as a Field Manager who are responsible in managing all of field project activities.


The main activities of CBM which we did in Kwandang Bay can be described bellow:

1. Preparation
We started our preparation with choosing community organizers (COs), who will work and stay within the community. Four COs are selected. Consider to the social and cultural condition in the bay, we chose 2 male and 2 female; 3 Moslems and 1 Christian as COs. We provided some training to them by giving them skills in community organizing, community mapping, participatory rural appraisal (PRA), program evaluation and any other skills related to the program. We also set up branch offices one in the bay and one in capital of district. While doing preparation, we also gathered the secondary data and field observations, met with local governments, informal leaders, religious leaders, and some key actors in the bay, introduced staffs, and explained our plan to gain the project goal.

2. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)
PRA is being used to describe a growing family of approaches and methods to enable local people to share, enhance and analyze their knowledge of life and conditions, to plan and to act (Chambers, 1994). Some scholars used the other term in this activity. DENR et al (2001) used term Participatory Coastal Resource Assessment (PCRA) to the similar activity which they define it as ‘a method of resource assessment wherein local communities actively participate in gathering and analyzing environmental, ecological, social and economic information about an area, using perspective of local resources user’. In this activity, we involved with the community to make some group discussions; gathering historical, social, economic condition of community; collecting information about mangrove condition; and presented it in a number of discussions with people. The outcome of this activity is a community activities plan related to mangrove management.

3. Community Mapping
Community mapping is a mapping technique which enable communities to participate in the map making processes, and to bolster the legitimacy of their customary claims to resources by appropriating the state’s technique and manner of representation (Fox et al, 2004). Peluso (2003) used term ‘counter mapping’ for this activity as ‘alternative’ of government’s domination in the map making process. In this activity we taught the community how using GPS, compass and the other map’s tools and practiced to make map of their land and coastal area. They measured their surrounding lands, coastal area, cultural and historical places such as cemetery, and border between public and private resources. The outcome of this activity was to prepare a ‘language’ of claim and rights of resources and to make sure the boundary of community resources and private resources. Long time colonial and state claims to the natural resources in the area have made community lose their self-confidences in claiming their own resources which relatively affected their participation to protect the nature resources.

4. Community Organization
Processes of preparation, PRA and community mapping provide a good correlation to community organization activity. The community organization is a process of bringing together members of a community and empowering them to address common concerns and problems, and to identify community goals and aspirations (DENR et al, 2001). The aim of this activity was to develop awareness and to organize the communities to participate in the project to reach their goal on natural resources management. A Community Organizer (CO) is an individual who stayed with the community and directly participates in their activities especially those related to fishing or farming. However, the COs role is restricted only for facilitating discussions, opening dialogues and offering perspective, not to instigate change whether the issue is economical, political, social or cultural (Kelola, 2004b). Staying with the community, do what they did, and feel empathy their feelings, would make COs have a better understanding of social problem within community. As a result, COs could have a chance to facilitate the process of implementing the community plans which were resulted in the PRA process. Replanting activities, community awareness, and focus group discussions were the activities which were implemented in this process.

5. Focus Group Discussion (FGD)
FGD is a discussion with four to eight members of community who were chosen for their knowledge and involvement in a specific topic. This activity usually served in the specific situation and issues such as preparing to solve an entangle problem, analyzing government policy, or preparing policy advocacy. The FGD required the ‘specific persons’ who are legible to participate in the discussion and also understand the specific issue. As I have mentioned above, this activity was along with community organization in which we have already known who the person were.

6. Community awareness
This was a process whereby knowledge was imparted to the coastal communities to increase their awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the coastal environment and its importance (DENR, 2001). Usually we applied it to school-aged children as they are more receptive to environmental education and of mangrove conservation. In addition, it gave indirect impacts to their parents’ attitude who engage in mangrove conversion. Both classroom and field learning were part of the curriculum; activities include environmental games, puppet shows, planting mangroves, and many other activities (Kelola, 2004b).

7. Capacity buildings
A long process of community organization has provided information of strengthens and weaknesses of community. We provided some training to improve their abilities in managing natural resources and organization such as sea weed and grouper culture, organization management and administration, fish marketing. We also involved some of their representations to attend workshops and seminars in district, provincial, and national level. The other activities were village exchanges and field trips to the nearest provinces which has a good experience in community-based coastal resources management. The aim of this activity is to empower community and learn from the other places how build a better commitment for mangrove management.

8. Alternative Income
The alternative income was a way for low-profit peoples to increase their income while reducing their dependency on mangrove resources. We facilitated the community with information about sea weed culture, taught them and made a model of a suitable sea weed culture. The most important part of this activity was providing some information about sea weed marketing. Similar to the sea weed culture, we also tried to train them with souvenir production skills especially for women.


One of the most significant results of CBM in Kwandang bay was the establishment of fishers organization, ‘Serikat Nelayan Saronde Kwandang (SNSK)’. Founded in 2001, SNSK was an accumulation of community organization process in Kwandang bay. The organization represented of 22 villages in the bay. The SNSK nowadays has 1,204 members from 22 villages (author field observation, July 2004). Every village has their representation in SNSK Board. Village has its own autonomy to develop program based on its needs. Village representatives have 3 monthly meeting to discuss their programs with the main boards.

Some programs proposed by SNSK including sea weed culture, seaweed and fish marketing, and credit union. The organization tried to find a better market of fish and sea weed. They also developed a ‘warung nelayan’, a small store selling fishing equipments including petroleum. Last summer on July 2004, I came to the SNSK office and they have more than 1,000 kg sea weeds which were ready to send to Surabaya . They built a system, which allow the members to save and loan money, of what they called as credit union. Even though there were some problems related to the management and administration of the credit union, it became a starting point for their economical development and a way to take part in solidarity among fishers. In the meeting with them, they asked me some advices to the possibility of providing gasoline to the members of SNSK. Gasoline is a vital component for fishing, which is in Indonesia, it is still monopolized and distributed by the government.

The SNSK also becomes a media of fishers’ movement. Now they have their office located near the fish market. Everyday, while selling fishes, they come to the office discussing their problems and how to solve them. Some related-issues on natural management and political situation also become important topics on the discussions.

In 2002, there were some fishermen from another province came to the bay and did blast and poison fishing. The organization tried to report the ‘spoiler’ to the police and as a result, they were jailed. Still in 2002, there were also some fishermen who used trawls in the bay. They caught fish in similar fishing ground and this situation became a big problem. The disturbed fishers tried to force the ‘outsiders’ out and it was follow by an accident which the local fishers burn the outsiders’ boat. Local fishers and the ‘outsiders’ fought each other and 2 of the outsiders got injuries. The SNSK finally proposed 3 miles for artisanal fishing ground to the local government. Although it was not regulated by the local government formally, but in a meeting with the SNSK, the Head of District and some of DPRD Gorontalo members have already agreed with this idea.

Related to the mangrove conservation, the SNSK also have replanting program. Together with the government, they proposed the rehabilitation program in some places in the bay. The members of SNSK also do not allow their members to cut mangrove for firewood or boat construction. The members, who cut mangrove tree for their basic need such as build their ‘traditional’ houses, are responsible to replant 10 – 100 trees in every piece of mangrove they use. The regulation of mangrove utilization and restoration depends on village’s convention. The SNSK also does not allow their members to do blasted and poisoned fishing, coral reef mining, and/or converse mangrove for fish/shrimp ponds in the green belt.

Event though the SNSK has gain success, I still found some problems in the organization. First, law enforcement in implementing their convention is low because of reluctance to impose restrictions among members. In this case, the roles of government are needed to implement the convention. Second, the organization is sensitive to the political and economic intervention. For example, in our general election last year, some party leaders come to bargain with some SNSK board offering their program and money and it produced a individual conflict interest.
For the future of mangrove management in Indonesia, I recommended some important suggestion related to the CBM. First, the idea of CBM is expected to be spreading through out the archipelago. Second, the more fisherfolk organizations should be found and be supported in the other provinces and later built up the network among them. Finally, we need a better cooperation among the governments, non government organizations and the other institutions such as researchers and universities for spreading to idea of CBM.


Community-based management (CBM) is a more reasonable and democratic approach to involve community in the management of natural resources. Community has their innate capacity to use and conserve their resources because it is part of their everyday life. Failure in top-down approach which is used by the government becomes a reason why CBM is important to implement. Even though there are some critiques to CBM related to the implementation, interpretation, and political economic reasons, CBM is believed as an alternative approach with the holistic concept of sustainability and integration of ecology, economic management and social objectives.

In the context of Indonesia, which has a huge number of natural resources and biodiversity, CBM is an alternative approach to gain a more participation of local people in managing natural resources. CBM is not a difficult concept, but not easy to implement, which need a long process to gain more successful results. Case study from Kwandang bay is an example how CBM have been implemented although there are some weaknesses of this project. Indonesia needs more examples of application of CBM project for the future of the country to conserve natural resources and social justice of people who are mostly depend on the natural resources.


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