Graphic credit to Ignatia Dyahapsari


This community resilience study is the crystallization of the experiences of each research team member in conservation, community livelihoods, ecosystems and biodiversity. We started this study in early 2022, as a form of reflection and our own anxiety over the disappearance of ‘community’ (in its deeper definition) from the grand narrative of ecosystem conservation. While social forestry is growing in Indonesia and the government is targeting for millions of hectares of Social Forestry land, problems are also emerging in its implementation at the grassroots level. In Papua, for example, recognition of customary forest areas is far from complete. In Sumatra, where social forestry schemes seem to thrive, economic development is pressing in from all sides and shaking the effectiveness of these forest protection schemes. We took a resilience approach, which has previously been used to examine more complex social systems such as agriculture and food, and adapted into a narrative approach.

Field studies were conducted by a team of field researchers and photographers over approximately one month in three villages in Papua (Aruswar, Sawesuma, and Soaib) and three villages in Jambi (Durian Rambun, Tamiai, and Sungai Keradak). We would like to thank the field facilitators, village and customary leaders, and the entire communities in the six villages. Their support in the data collection process, and their warmth towards us was an unforgettable experience. The active involvement of some community members in the making of photovoices was also encouraging, and strengthened our hypothesis that there are things beyond conservation programs that drive community resilience.

The discussion process to formulate the study problem, explore literature, analyze secondary data, and review field findings was carried out by involving various parties, including NGOs (FFI and WWF-Indonesia) and community groups. In one of the workshops, we, in collaboration with the KEHATI Foundation, invited representatives from the Directorate General of KSDAE and the Directorate General of PSKL at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), as well as Dr. Wiratno (Advisory Board member of SITH ITB), Dr. Mulyaningrum from SITH ITB, and representatives of environmental NGOs (WALHI, FFI, World Resource Institute, Konservasi Indonesia, ICRAF/CIFOR, AKATIGA, Romo Marsel from the Diocese of Rote, and LPPP Solo) to have a discussion together. Again, we agreed that communities need to be at the center of conservation, and therefore, we need to revisit old approaches to assess the success of conservation programs. For all the support and constructive discussions, we thank them very much.

We would also like to thank all the institutions involved and supporting the research to date, including ACES, SITH ITB, Department of Anthropology UI, FMIPA and Museum of Anthropology University of Cenderawasih, the management at Galleri Soemardja FSRD ITB, and ITB Press.

For information, inputs and collaboration, please contact us:

Dr. Angga Dwiartama

The School of Life Sciences and Technology (SITH), Institut Teknologi Bandung

Labtek XI 1st Floor, Jl. Ganesha 10 Bandung 40132


dwiartama [at] itb [dot] ac [dot] id