FSC International – Forests for All Forever

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Increasing incomes in Indonesia
FSC Communications Manager Lisa Smyth visited a smallholders’ co-op in Jombang in the East Java Province of Indonesia. She came back with this story.

© FSC GD

A schoolbag hangs on the lime-green walls of Sri Wahyuningtyas’s home in the village of Wonosalam, in Indonesia’s Jombang district. The only photograph on display is of Sri W. with her church group members, but it’s her five-year-old son’s school backpack that has pride of place.

That’s because of the great value Sri W. places on education. With her income bolstered by earnings from her job in the Sengon AgungBersama Cooperative, she has been able to buy a second cow. And she knows that she’ll be able to send her son, as well as the child she is carrying, to the best schools.

The co-op, set up in 2010, is supported by a grant from the FSC Smallholder Fund. FSC recognizes that smallholders, family forest owners and forest communities are key stakeholders in responsible forest management. As individuals, and even as ill-equipped groups, they would never be able to obtain FSC certification. 

But through its Smallholder Support Program, FSC can help groups of smallholders to overcome the many challenges they face in meeting the requirements of becoming FSC certified.

Sri W. has been a member of the co-op since the start, but she wanted to be more involved. She joined the staff in the administration section and was trained in financial and computer skills, which she now passes on to members of her church group.

The co-op has 129 members, of which 24 are women. Sri is one of two female staff members; there are five men on the staff. She’s happy because she has more income and new skills now, and she’s also enjoying the gender equality in the co-op. “It doesn’t matter that I am a woman. We are treated and paid the same,” she says.


Room to grow

The co-op’s members come from 11 sub-villages. On their collective 201 ha of FSC-certified forest, they grow teak, mahogany, sengon and gmelina. With FSC smallholder funding, the co-op has built 12 wells, securing a clean, stable water supply for the village. The wells also mean the smallholders have water for their trees and plants, even during the dry season. The co-op used the funding to buy safety helmets and shoes as well. It improved the quality of its management through training, which, in turn, will help improve the quality of the timber. With the FSC funding, all members get free seed and are trained in growing their trees without pesticides.

There has already been substantial growth. In 2013, revenue was 457,000 Indonesian rupiah (around US$40), up from 239,000 rupiah in 2012. It takes five years to get to the harvesting stage for the trees, and the villagers are selling seedlings in the meantime.

The company PT Sejahtera Usaha Bersama (PT SUB) financially supports the co-op by assisting with obtaining seedlings and buying timber from the smallholders. FSC timber here is used mostly for plywood for general housing. For PT SUB, its support of an FSC-certified cooperative is a way to ease entry into the European and US markets.

Benefits for all

Fellow co-op member Supriyo grows trees on 800 square meters (0.08 ha) of forest. He also heads a village-level office, which meets once a month to discuss community issues. He was elected to his position in 2010 and is very proud of being a community leader. Supriyo keeps all the office files in his home, in the sideboard under a heartshaped clock.

Supriyo, along with the other co-op members, is very pleased that the local and national governments have acknowledged their involvement in sustainable forest management. The forest is their world and they are delighted to show it off. But to be sustainable, they realized that they had to learn to do things differently.

There is a productive area and a conservation area to ensure diversity. All the trees are tagged in line with the monitoring and evaluation side of the members’ training, and will be harvested only when they reach the correct height. It is clear that a system is in place and that it’s working.

From his profits from the co-op, Supriyo bought two goats to add to his herd (which now totals six animals). But he’s so busy in the village office that he had to ask his neighbor, Sri Wahyuni, to look after four of them; they then share the profits from the goats’ milk and meat. Arrangements like this, he points out, mean that all the villagers benefit from the co-op – even those who are not members. And the co-op itself would not be successful without FSC support.