Selecting villages of study and planning for upscaling at Bengkalis, Riau

In the reflection phase, the CIFOR PAR CBFPR Team selected Dompas as the main village of study, and Sejangat, Sungai Pakning, Buruk Bakul, Sukajadi and Tanjung Belit as satellite villages. These villages were selected because they have active farmer groups and Fire Care Community members, show a willingness to share their knowledge and collaborate with the implementing team, and have an interest in action research. In addition, the villages were selected due to the presence of forest, fire risk and history of fire incidents.

To explore the possibility of scaling up and documenting the baseline data on community-based organizations in different villages, we partnered with the University of Riau to conduct an institutional survey. The institutional survey was conducted during the planning phase. The preliminary findings show there have been various community-based organizations across different villages of study. We found Fire Care Community, a farmers’ group and a women’s group in nearly all the villages. We captured each institution in six villages for their profiles; their knowledge, attitude, intention, expectation, and perception towards different restoration activities; as well as the state of their restoration efforts. [Profiles of other satellite villages are available in project reports]

In Dompas, there were at least four community-based groups consisting of a Fire Care Community and the remaining were farmers’ groups, i.e. Delima Cemerlang, Farmer Group 2 and Usaha Bersama; and the government of Dompas. Two farmers’ groups were dominated and led by women. The Fire Care Community was established in 2014 following frequent and severe forest and land fires. Three other farmers’ groups were recently established in 2018 with facilitation from CIFOR and the University of Riau.

The community-based groups in Dompas were open and allowed for larger community participation. The membership was voluntary and unbounded by recruitment regulations, meaning that the members may request termination or resignation of membership as well as ask to join the group. The participatory processes were evident by the high involvement of many members in the decision-making process.

In terms of fire prevention efforts, all community-based groups and local government at Dompas stated that the current efforts have been very good and that no fires have occurred. They further stated that they avoided land clearing using fire, performed routine patrols and planted idle land. Planting was becoming highly important because, according to the community, fire previously occurred due to lack of monitoring of idle and unproductive land.

In terms of knowledge of, and attitudes and perceptions about any restoration activity, the community-based groups and local government stated their awareness and expressed their agreement with different restoration activities, including CIFOR’s restoration activity. They even directly participated in the PAR CBFPR project. They expected future restoration activities to include cultivating fruits and tubers, and planting idle land, the majority of which have been covered in CIFOR PAR CBFPR.

The community-based groups and local government partnered with other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Yet, there has not been intensive facilitation towards the community members of Dompas to change their behavior. With an integrated and participatory approach, PAR CBFPR allows for interaction between experts and the community in integrating the fire prevention and restoration efforts with community needs as regards improving their economy. The community-based groups and local government perceived the PAR CBFPR to be extremely useful. They also stated that CIFOR’s action arenas can be used as a model and that the possibility of successful restoration following CIFOR PAR CBFPR is very likely to happen.