Forest degradation, in addition to affecting the decrease of forest production and loss of biodiversity, also increases poverty and conflict in society. Based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2003 there were approximately 48.8 million people or 22 percent of Indonesia’s 219.9 million citizens living in and around forests, of which 10.2 million people are classified as poor citizens. From the data it is acknowledged that about 6 million people have direct livelihood from the forest and about 3.4 million inhabitants worked in the private sector of forestry.
However, the government’s development policy for forestry sector has yet been able to improve the economy and welfare of the communities surrounding the forest area optimally. This is because there is still mutual distrust between the government and society. "The failure of forestry development is more due to the lack of trust. There is still perception that the community is the forest destroyer," said Imam Suramenggala, S. Hut., M.Sc., student in S-3 program of the UGM Faculty of Forestry in a monthly seminar held at the UGM Center for Rural and Regions Studies on Thursday (9 / 6 .)
According to him, with the forest’s ongoing widespread degradation, decline in timber productivity and high levels of poverty of the people living in and around forests as well as the emergence of various conflicts of forest resources exploitation describe the government’s failure in achieving the objectives of forestry development, whereas the existence of forest resources is very important for the people living in and around forest areas. This is indicated by the culture and the implementation of local wisdom values that are the result of community interaction with forest resources. However, in line with the changing conditions of forest and the wide open economy access to forests, a shift of values and culture of the community on forests and ecosystems occurs.
Suramenggala added the success of communities in managing forests independently in some areas shows that the community actually has the opportunity and considerable social capital in forestry development. Local knowledge developed in communities in managing forest resources is the result of a very long interaction with the environment. Community’s management approach is based on ecosystem and social economy. "Thus, we need to take these good values as social capital in achieving the objectives of forestry development," said the staff from Bulungan District Forest Service, East Kalimantan.