| Calliandra : A Versatile Small Tree for the Humid Tropics |
Java's enormous population density (among the highest in the world) puts great pressures on its forest lands. About 80 percent of its people live in rural areas, and, as in many developing countries, most of them depend entirely on the land for their daily existence.
With little space of their own available, many villagers enter the forest to graze livestock, cut firewood and timber, and sometimes even to grow crops. As a result, in the early l970s the State Forest Corporation, Perum Perhutani, found itself spending millions of rupiah to keep people out of its commercial stands of teak, pine, and acacia.
Perum Perhutani is a government corporation, and in the 1970s its director at that time,
Sukiman Atmosudaryo, sought ways to make forestry fulfill the needs of the local population.
Among other things, he wanted a vigorous, fast-growing tree that would survive on poor land that was subject to erosion. A tree legume seemed to be the answer, and researchers at the corporation quickly found that calliandra was one of the fastest growing woody legumes on Java.
To learn more about this obscure species and where it would grow best, Perum Perhutani used its 1,700 forest guards, who are scattered through rural Java. In 1974 each was given a few seeds of calliandra and other fast-growing trees to plant. The resulting trial plots demonstrated that calliandra would be the most suitable for village fuelwood production in humid areas and at medium elevations (250-800 m).
The forest guards then distributed seed and gave planting advice to local village chiefs in appropriate regions. This program is known as the MA-LU (MAntri kehutanan is Indonesian for forest guards and LUrah for village leaders). The MA-LU program also oversees the distribution of tree species other than calliandra and is involved in additional forestry extension. (See papers by Sukiman Atmosudaryo in Selected Readings.)
Under the MA-LU program, regional demonstrations were organized and groups of 50 to 100 village chiefs were brought in to visit the test plots. Here, local village leaders told their visiting counterparts about calliandra and its value to their people. Unless questioned, the foresters remained silent.
With these activities, calliandra began to attract increasing recognition, and, as more village chiefs asked for help, a series of quarter-hectare, temporary nurseries were set up for the production of calliandra seedlings. Once trees were established, the seedling nurseries were moved to a new area. Perum Perhutani staff refer to this plan as a "creeping nursery."
In the late 1970s these efforts gave rise to a spontaneous distribution of calliandra seed among the network of village chiefs-a true sel[-perpetuating "greening" movement began.
Today people plant calliandra for themselves, and the plant can be seen in villages throughout Java. It is popular because it grows well in many types of soil, destroys the tangle of weeds, and improves soil fertility. It also increases the income of the village by providing firewood, honey, and feed for sheep, water buffalo, goats, and chickens.
Perum Perhutani now uses calliandra to foster a cooperative relationship between villagers and the surrounding forest. For example, it will plant stands of calliandra close to villages to provide forage and firewood. However, the village chief must pledge that, in exchange, the nearby forest plantings and native forests will be left untouched.
In a separate program on some sites, Perum Perhutani also lets villagers earn firewood. If they collect three stacked-meters of calliandra wood for the corporation, they receive a fourth stacked-meter of wood for themselves. The corporation also pays villagers to collect calliandra seed, which is then used for planting elsewhere in and outside Java. In this way calliandra is of daily benefit to the nearby villages.
This is a sensitive approach. Its success depends on motivating people to grow wood on fringe areas, including their yards, dry fields, and rice-field dikes, while protecting the forest plantation itself. It has not been successful everywhere-forest guards and forest administrators often have trouble seeing themselves as part of village development. But in many areas there is now cooperation between the forest guards and the villagers, and today calliandra is the source of the products that used to be stolen from the forests.
This enlightened program of forest management has helped Perum Perhutani engender the rural populace's enthusiastic support for its projects and for calliandra. In building village prosperity the corporation foregoes considerable profit, but in return its own plantations are protected and even improved by the nearby inhabitants. The idea, according to Sukiman Atmosudaryo, is to develop forests for the people and people for the forests.
Foresters have to live with the environment, he says, and people are part of it.