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Random Diss Excerpt #4

READING ADVISORY: Purely descriptive. Not offendingly academic.

According to government estimates, 80% of the total area of the province of Central Kalimantan (153,564km2 or 15,356,400 has.) now lies under forest cover (BAPPEDA Propinsi Kalimantan Tengah 2001). The estimates on the rate of deforestation vary, depending on who is assessing the situation. A conservative estimate, discounting illegal logging and forest fires, pegs the loss of forest cover at 1,000 hectares per day (MacKinnon et al. 1996: 400). The World Bank and the national government predict a loss of lowland forest cover in Kalimantan by the year 2010 (Forest Watch Indonesia 2002). Ecologists and people living in the proximity of the forest have expressed the worry that by the year 2005 the peat swamp forests of Central Kalimantan will be irrepairably damaged (Husson and Morrogh-Bernard 2003)....

To the villagers, the peat swamp forest is valuable as a place that provides work. The forest is always referred to in terms of hasil hutan, literally, results of the forest. People living along the river Katingan enter the identified area of the Sebangau catchment almost on a daily basis, to fish, gather jelutung or gemor, or to kerja batang, ‘work the trees’ – that is, for illegal logging activities. Although the economic gain for local people from the peat swamp forest of Sebangau is clear, the effect of the ongoing extraction activities is ecologically detrimental, as has been shown in studies conducted by the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project and others (Husson and Morrogh-Bernard 2003). Sitting on the banks of a village along a main river such as the Katingan on any given day, one can observe long rafts of several hundred tree stems, guided downstream by small boats. These will be cut at sawmills located further downstream, taken to the coast and loaded onto ships carrying timber to various ports around the world, including nearby Malaysia and Japan, and far-off Europe....

The village of Baun Bango is located on the banks of the river Katingan. It’s boundaries are shared with four other villages that lie alongside it, and across the river. For subsistence, almost every household has a small garden plot in front of or behind the houses. Apart from the gardens, each household – indeed, each villager, has a range of other occupations which bring food and income to the household. These include fishing, rattan, logging, shifting agriculture, raising cattle, and trade....

Logging first began in Baun Bango in 1973, when a logging company opened operations there. The concession was granted by the national government, which means to say the permission came from Jakarta. Prior to the arrival of the logging company, villagers only cut down trees to build houses and boats, or for firewood. They were angered when the company came, as many of them were accused of stealing the company’s resources when they cut down trees for personal use. The prevailing sentiment among villagers was that, in fact, it was the company that was stealing from them. The company hadn’t sought the permission of the villagers, and the villagers said that they had lived and worked in the forest since the time of their forefathers. Who was the company to come and tell them they could no longer do so and worse, to call them thieves? Many villagers ventured into illegal logging themselves, on the grounds that they too should benefit from the resources of their own forest. In their point of view, the logging company could not have absolute rights. However, within the frame of national law, there was no room for indigenous populations in forested areas to claim rights of tenure. Unable to stop the villagers from cutting down trees, the company began to buy logs from the villagers in 1975. When the company left, people continued to cut down trees in order to sell the timber for cash. People from Java began to come to the area to cash in on the timber as well. Adsdfgkeo asdklgot loirgndfl padlfgjr g sl; e!!!

(This excerpt is taken from a paper which will appear in the forthcoming volume, June in the Cordilleras, edited by Dr. Ben Tapang and published by the U.P. Press. Should readers wish to quote or refer to this and other random dissertation excerpts on this blog, please leave me a note in the comments box and I will gladly share the necessary details.)


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