Traditional People and Conservation

All human beings have traditions, so what do we mean by "traditional people" and what is their special role, if any, in nature conservation in Indonesia?

Many of Indonesia's rural inhabitants live in communities with well established cultural identities and spiritual ties to the land, forest, and sea. Customary or adat law still governs social relations within these communities, including the regulation of how natural resources may be used and must be protected. It is the people of such communities, together with their customary beliefs, knowledge, and resource management practices that form the focus of this issue of conservation Indonesia.
Conservation is the wise and sustainable use of all natural resources, including the protection of species and natural areas deemed by society to be of special value. Conservation is inseparable from issues of economic development, especially in a rapidly industrializing country such as Indonesia, but it also has cultural and spiritual aspects.
People in traditional rural communities need to be involved in conservation for two reasons. First, many of Indonesia's national parks and nature reserves are homelands to traditional communities with historical going back many generations. Considerations of social justice (and law) dictate that the rightful inhabitants of these areas should participate in, and share, the benefits of benefits of development there, including the establishment and management of protected natural areas.
Second, rural people throughout Indonesia are already locally managing forest and sea resources. Any attempt to further develop or regulate those resources should start with an appreciation of the traditional knowledge and practical experience held by local residents, who should be treated not as passive recipients of development benefits but rather as true "local experts" on environmental problems and economic opportunities.
Since traditional communities have deep economic, cultural, and spiritual ties to the land and sea, their residents have a long-term interest in maintaining a sustainable flow of resources and a healthy and esthetically pleasant environment. Thus, traditional people are appropriate and necessary partners in conservation and in its integration with sustainable economic development.