A new research has shown that the annual harvesting of wild honey may be one of the most sustainable and effective governance measures now protecting the Mount Mutis Nature Reserve in West Timor, Indonesia.
The Kanoppi research project, a combined effort between the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), has found that the customary laws surrounding the harvesting of wild honey by the local Mutis-Timau community are having a strong impact on forest protection, at least as much as national and provincial laws.
“It’s a success story for community-based landscape management and how it can contribute to forest conservation in harmony with national policy,” says Ani Adiwinata Nawir, Kanoppi’s Coordinator for Policy Research.
Local customs dictate that honey can be harvested once or twice a year, according to the seasons, and must be harvested in a way that does not disturb the ecosystem that sustains its production. The harvest is shared equally among the community, bringing additional benefits for livelihoods.
In addition, the practice inadvertently contributes to national and provincial laws on forest protection – laws which members of the Mutis-Timau community are generally unaware of, according to the research. This suggests an untapped potential for both the inclusion of elements of customary law in sustainable resource management policies, and better participation by local people in creating formal laws, Ani says.
The Kanoppi project’s recommendation to protect the tradition of the honey harvest has already been adopted in the Timor Tengah Selatan district government’s strategy on landscape-level integrated management of non-timber forest products, as a reference for government agencies.
Kanoppi forms part of the CGIAR Research Programme of Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, is supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and is implemented in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund in Indonesia (WWF Indonesia) and a locally established policy working group.