Empowering Indonesia’s Rich Natural and Cultural Assets

A concept note about empowering Indonesia’s rich natural and cultural assets by fueling creative economy growth in an ecologically and sustainable way.

The Indonesia government has committed to reduce GHG emissions by up to 41 percent while still growing the economy at 7 percent annually by 2020. This means Indonesia must move away from a natural resource extractive approach, to an approach that can put economic value on conservation and the wise use of natural resources. The implementation of the green economy will incubate economic growth and increase poverty-based initiatives by potentially creating a new economic growth, create new jobs, and reduce poverty.

Indonesia is very rich in natural resources, with more than one hundred and thirty million hectares of forest it becomes one of the most forest rich nations in the world. In Indonesia more than 48 million people also depend on forests for their livelihoods – these people are in many cases also the guardians of forest integrity, but they are under pressure to also exploit. Efforts to develop a creative economy based on natural and cultural assets would be beneficial to help these people protect forests and break the chains of poverty. If we want to save the forest, then we must save the people first, and in today’s world one powerful way to make this happen is by giving them access to learn various skills to compete within the modern economy related to both services and manufacturing sectors that do not damage the balance of the forest.

One important economic contributions of forest which is often overlooked are non-timber forest products that have long been utilised by communities surrounding these forests. The Indonesian government through the Ministry of Forestry has specified 565 species of non-forest timber products with six priority products: rattan, bamboo, gaharu or agar wood, natural silk, honey, and nyamplung or Calophyllum inophylum. Besides, Indonesia has a rich culture with hundreds of remarkable ethnic groups. Those two things become extraordinary capitals to develop an economy based on the utilisation of assets and natural resources creatively. The challenge is how to add creative value to the highest natural materials possessed so that economic growth can be established without harvesting the natural resources in an extractive way, and thus ensuring sustainable and stable ecosystems.

A vibrant and strong creative economy can only be concretely realised if the younger generations are capable of creatively innovating designs of various high economic value products without damaging the environment. Moreover, through fostering a caring attitude the young generation can be actually moved, involved in a real action spontaneously and voluntarily into a social environmental entrepreneurship activity. Therefore college students and young generation need to be educate with knowledge and inspiration from those who already practicing the social entrepreneurship business model so that all parts of institution can work together, by linking and inspiring to find the most effective way to save the forests and ecosystems in an integrated and comprehensive manner.

More about Indonesia’s Non-timber forest product can be viewed through this video about forests as complex ecosystems that support a myriad of life forms. Forests play important roles in human life, functioning as a source of food, energy, livelihoods and homes for more than 48 million people all over the Indonesian archipelago. It also inspire the culture of Indonesian people. Over centuries, people evolved their cultural forest ethnicity, into a wealthy living harmony. This video will gives some description about the unique non-timber forest products produced by forest people that can create high economic value in the urban lifestyle while at the same time, forest will also connect us to the age old Indonesian ancient traditional heritage. Narrated by Nora-Jane Noone, this video directed and edited by Nanang Sujana.

Non-Timber Forest Product: Indonesia’s Forests Hidden Economy

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