UGM students research indigenous ecotourism in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. They highlighted the importance of considering the perspectives and interests of indigenous people in development projects.
The development of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park (TNBTS) has become a national priority agenda in the 10 Priority National Tourism Strategic Areas (KSPN).
“Unfortunately, the development of the national park has overlooked the perspectives and interests of indigenous people, namely the Tengger tribe or Wong Tengger,” said Danu Saifulloh Rahmadhani on Wednesday (October 4).
Danu Rahmadhani, a student at the UGM Faculty of Philosophy, explained that the concrete form of neglect experienced by Wong Tengger in Ranu Pani Village, Lumajang, East Java, can be seen from the lack of involvement of Wong Tengger as development subjects in the planning and management of the national park area.
This lack of involvement has led to conflicts of interest between Wong Tengger and TNBTS authorities, who formally determine resource utilization limits. Wong Tengger, as the affected party, is not accommodated or given alternatives.
The limited participation of Wong Tengger in the conservation and tourism development of TNBTS is ironic because it does not align with the ideals of sustainable development.
Conservation and tourism, in the context of sustainable development, should consider the perspectives of indigenous people and not solely rely on the views of other parties, as it can lead to a conflict of interest.
“The Tengger community in Ranu Pani Village, which is directly adjacent to the KSPN project, feels less actively involved in the decision-making process regarding the development of TNBTS,” he explained.
These conditions have prompted Rahmadhani and his team, consisting of Wahida Okta Khoirunnisa (Philosophy), Iswan Bahri (Tourism), Berlin Situmorang (Sociology), and Maria Evivani Yonanda (Forestry), to conduct in-depth research on Wong Tengger who have been affected by the KSPN project.
They conducted a four-month research titled “Wong Tengger Worldview of the Ranu Pani Community as a Paradigm for the Development of Indigenous Ecotourism in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.”
The research used a phenomenological approach with the theory of worldview. Phenomenology was used to reveal the meaning or essence of a phenomenon in society and then identified using the worldview theory to obtain basic knowledge experienced by the Ranu Pani Village community.
“We attempted to describe the socioeconomic dynamics of Wong Tengger in Ranu Pani Village and then analyze the worldview system experienced by them. The result is a strategy for developing indigenous ecotourism in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park,” said Maria Yonanda.
Wahida Okta Khoirunnisa added that interviews conducted with Wong Tengger revealed disparities in knowledge and power, resulting in powerlessness in the use of traditional ancestral land that they have historically owned.
Wong Tengger also feels “small” and believes they don’t have the power to contribute to development.
“The issues between Wong Tengger and TNBTS authorities can generally be grouped into three categories: power imbalances, ineffective knowledge transfer, and a lack of trust built among themselves,” Khoirunnisa explained.
Iswan Bahri explained that the friction between the two parties was evident in the Gunung Gendhing project, which was controversial among Wong Tengger. The project was said not to involve the approval of the indigenous community and was built on land considered sacred by the Tengger community.
Berlin Situmorang added that Wong Tengger, who already has traditional local knowledge, should be considered in decision-making. This local knowledge is embodied in the worldview system passed down through generations. The Tengger worldview is essential to address the existing problems.
This research was funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology’s Student Creativity Program for Social Sciences and Humanities Research in 2023.
Photo: The Wong Tengger Worldview team