Juni 03, 2014

Traditional Forests and Agroforests in the Jangkat Community, Jambi, Indonesia

Bambang Hariyadi, “Traditional Forests and Agroforests in the Jangkat Community, Jambi, Indonesia”, research under UNESCO/Keizo Obuchi Fellowship, 2005-2006.


JANGKAT REFERS to a group of indigenous people who inhabit the area of Jangkat, a region on the border of the Kerinci Seblat National Park in western Sumatra in Indonesia. Some of them occupy pristine forest enclaves within the Park. The Jangkat lived in the area for a long time before the park was established. The group consists of two main sub-clans: Sungai Tenang and Serampas. They did not remain at particular sites but instead kept moving from one site to another. A number of plants such as aur duri (Bambusa blumea), durian (Durio zibethinus), petai (Parkia speciosa) confirm their earlier sites. The old Serampas were grouped in three small hamlets with a few households; today that has increased to five villages comprised of about 80 households each and scattered throughout the area. To some extent, they still live in a traditional manner by practicing their inherited traditional living system, which is being institutionalized into local custom.

The local worldview includes a perception of the presence of their ancestors and the orang gunung (mountain people) inhabiting the local landscape. In the eyes of the Serampas, the orang gunung live in an unseen kingdom in the surrounding mountains and may appear in human form but mainly just in spirit. The orang gunung can interfere with farming and inhabit a person’s body. The Serampas practise a number of traditional rituals including kenduri psko, an annual traditional ceremony, to address the presence of their ancestors and the orang gunung.

The Jangkat, mainly Serampas, practise shifting cultivation and are nearly subsistent. A few of them grow local rice varieties organically on irrigated wetlands. In recent decades, they have begun to incorporate some cash crops, especially cinnamon and coffee, into their shifting cultivation. The economic incentive of growing cinnamon has increased cinnamon acreage throughout the region. Unavoidably, the practice has ultimately changed the entire local farming system.

Local natural resources provide copious materials to meet the villagers’ basic needs. They hunt wild game including deer, antelope, fish, and birds, which significantly contributes to their protein intake. Moreover, Serampas have a long list of useful plants from the secondary and primary forests that they use for various purposes including food, medicine, tool and construction materials, and cultural associated supplies. They combine their knowledge about local plants with their worldview and traditional values to develop local techniques of hunting, fishing, farming, and other livelihood activities.

Their traditional system significantly influences the way they shape and utilize existing natural resources. The synergic interaction between Serampas and their environment had secured both the people and the landscape over generations. However, despite the fact that the local traditional system is quite resilient in tackling external pressures, it has gradually become powerless because it has had to struggle alone and fight more and stronger opponents, especially external stakeholders. This research attempts to document some of the local ecological knowledge of a community which is undergoing rapid and widespread changes.[]

Source: Unesdoc.unesco.org.

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