ASEAS 5(2) – Environment

Issue 5(2) was published in 2012. Find all article downloads below!


Aktuelle Südostasienforschung / Current Research on South-East Asia

  • Contesting State Forests in Post-Suharto Indonesia: Authority Formation, State Forest Land Dispute, and Power in Upland Central Java, IndonesiaAnu Lounela
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-2
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    This article explores the ongoing conflict over state forestland between the local population and the State Forestry Corporation (SFC) in a village in upland Central Java with regard to authority formation. It looks at how different agents draw on different sources of authority in the course of the conflict and its negotiations. The principal questions are to what kind of sources of authority villagers refer to and how the formation of authority informs the relations between the state and society in the land dispute. The article is based on 11 months of ethnographic fieldwork and focuses on the central figure of Pak Wahid who took a leading position in the forest land dispute and in mobilising peasants in the village. The article argues that in post-Suharto Java, leadership in the struggle for state forest land at the village level is embedded in the interaction of Javanese ideas of power and authority as well as administrative authority. Due to political and institutional reforms, new sources of authority could be invoked while there are no real changes in the power relations within the village or between the SFC and the villagers.

    Keywords: Authority Formation; Land Dispute; Power Relations; State Forest Land; Upland Java
  • Restoring State Control Over Forest Resources Through Administrative Procedures: Evidence From a Community Forestry Programme in Central Java, IndonesiaAhmad Maryudi
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-3
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    In recent years, community forestry has emerged as a means to reform power constellations with regard to forest governance. Through community forestry, the central state promised to devolve several forest rights to local communities and encouraged them to get involved in decision making processes and the implementation of forest activities. However, experience in some countries indicates that the implementation of community forestry programmes is rarely followed by genuine power devolution to local forest users. Instead, these programmes may even serve as a means to retain or restore the central state’s control over forests. Using a case study of a community forestry programme implemented in Java, Indonesia, by a state forest company, this paper argues that the implementation of community forestry is also driven by the state’s interests to regain control over the forests. Research in eight villages in Central Java province reveals that the community forestry programmes are carefully structured according to numerous administrative procedures and establish a mode of control through a bureaucratic design.

    Keywords: Administrative Procedures; Community Forestry; Indonesia; State Control; State Forestland
  • In and Out of the Forest: Decentralisation and Recentralisation of Forest Governance in East Kalimantan, IndonesiaCathrin Bullinger & Michaela Haug
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-4
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    The ‘big bang’ decentralisation reforms Indonesia embarked upon in 2001 went along with a decentralisation of the forestry sector. Hopes were high that this would improve local development and contribute to more sustainable forest management. However, undesired outcomes of decentralisation have been counteracted by an immediate effort to recentralise forest governance. In this paper, we address the question what actual impact both de- and recentralisation of forest governance had on the livelihoods of local communities in East Kalimantan. Our findings are based on field studies conducted in two villages using ethnographic methods. We show that under decentralised forest governance, unclear functional competences and overlapping authorities of the central and local governments triggered a logging boom that increased inter- and intra-village conflicts, exacerbating inequality, and leading to further deforestation. On the other hand, the recentralisation of the forestry sector and the increased central state control of illegal logging deprived villagers of lucrative income sources without offering adequate alternatives, while ending therewith associated conflicts. Our case studies thus show that de- and recentralisation had both positive and negative effects on a local level. However, we argue that continual decentralisation eff orts would be more promising for the improvement of local communities in East Kalimantan.

    Keywords: Decentralisation; East Kalimantan; Forest Governance; Indonesia; Local Livelihoods
  • Community Tenure Rights and REDD+: A Review of the Oddar Meanchey Community Forestry REDD+ Project in Cambodia – Donal Yeang
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-5
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    Tenure rights over land, forest, and carbon have become a contentious issue within REDD+ implementation across the tropics because local communities could be excluded from REDD+ benefits if land tenure or use and access rights are not clear. This study aims to understand and assess tenure arrangements under the first REDD+ demonstration project in Cambodia, the Oddar Meanchey Community Forestry REDD+ Project. In particular, the study explores the following questions: (1) How are tenure rights arranged in the Oddar Meanchey REDD+ Project? (2) Does the tenure regime recognise the rights of local communities to their land and its associated resources? (3) What kind of institutions are put in place to support tenure rights of local communities in the project? The author conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and complemented the analysis by participant observation and a review of policy documents and secondary literature. The major finding of this study is that the local communities in the project are still given rights to use and access forest resources, although carbon rights belong to the government. While the government retains ownership over carbon credits, it agreed that at least 50 percent of the net revenue from the sale of carbon credits will flow to participating communities.

    Keywords: Cambodia; Carbon Rights; Community Forestry; REDD+; Tenure Rights
  • Turning Red Rural Landscapes Yellow? Sufficiency Economy and Royal Projects in the Hills of Nan Province, Northern Thailand – Amalia Rossi
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-6
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    This paper discusses the efforts of the royal family to moralise the environmental behaviour of their subjects in the name of the Sufficiency Economy philosophy solicited by King Bhumibol since the 1990s in Thailand. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Nan province, Northern Thailand, in 2008 and 2009, I focus particularly on Royal Projects recently promoted to correct the rural practices of the ethnic minority groups living in the hills of Nan. In the past, many of these ethnic groups took part in the Maoist insurgency while at present, they represent a key basin of supporters for the reformist Red Shirts movement which is currently threatening the role of the monarchy in Thai politics. The research suggests that the recently increased trend of staging new projects for sustainable agro-forestry management in a ‘red’ area as Nan does not only aim at improving the conditions of mountain peoples and of the environment, but simultaneously increases the political influence of the conservative forces over this ‘ungovernable’ territory in times of political crisis.

    Keywords: Lua People; Northern Thailand; Royal Projects; Sufficiency Economy; Thai Politics
  • Transborder Environmental Justice in Regional Energy Trade in Mainland South-East Asia – Carl Middleton
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-7
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    Thailand is mainland South-East Asia’s largest energy consumer. Since the early 1990s, community and civil society opposition to new domestic large-scale power projects has strengthened within Thailand. Partly in response and facilitated by deepening regional economic integration, Thailand’s electricity utility, private sector energy, and construction companies have increasingly looked towards neighbouring Laos and Myanmar to supply Thailand’s energy markets. This paper assesses the political economy of Thailand’s power sector development through the lens of distributive and procedural environmental justice, including the role of social movements and civil society in Thailand in reforming the country’s power planning process. The environmental and social costs of domestic power projects and power import projects are discussed. The author concludes that Thailand’s existing energy imports from hydropower projects in Laos and a gas project in Myanmar have exported environmental injustice associated with energy production across borders, exploiting the comparatively weak rule of law, judicial systems, and civil and political freedoms in these neighbouring countries.

    Keywords: Energy Trade; Laos; Myanmar; Thailand; Transborder Environmental Justice
  • Flooded: An Auto-Ethnography of the 2011 Bangkok Flood – Erik Cohen
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-8
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    In this personal account I report my perceptions, experiences, and conduct during the 2011 Bangkok flood, in which my home and neighbourhood have been badly inundated and damaged. Therefore, I draw on auto-ethnography as an increasingly popular, though controversial qualitative methodology in social sciences. Though personal, the account has some broader implications, deriving primarily from the examination of the relationship between my perceptions and conduct in the disaster and my life experiences and present social position, as set against the perceptions and conduct of my Thai wife, our neighbours, and the broader community. The contrast throws some light on an aspect of Thai culture rarely discussed in the literature: the Thai response to disaster.

    Keywords: Auto-Ethnography; Bangkok 2011 Flood; Disaster; Floods; Home

 Forum Südostasien / Forum South-East Asia

  • Cultural Impacts of Mining in Indigenous Peoples’ Ancestral Domains in the PhilippinesMarina Wetzlmaier
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-9
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Im Dialog / In Dialogue

  • Carbon Markets and REDD in South-East Asia: An Interview with Chris Lang from REDD-MonitorOliver Pye
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-11
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    Chris Lang is a climate justice activist and currently runs REDD-Monitor, a website that follows projects and developments around REDD ( The acronym REDD refers to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and is a UN programme that aims to offer incentives for countries in the Global South to reduce emissions from deforestation by creating financial values for the forest carbon stocks. In this interview, Lang talks about structural shortcomings of REDD and the danger of carbon cowboys, provides an insight in the 1 billion dollar agreement
    between Norway and Indonesia, and discusses the relation between REDD and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Südostasien sehen / South-East Asia Visually

  • The Conflict-Laden Multi-Functionality of the Kapuas River in Kalimantan, Indonesia – Martin C. Lukas, Julia, Irendra Radjawali, Michael Flitner & Oliver Pye
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-12
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Netzwerk Südostasien / Network South-East Asia

  • Research on South-East Asia in Austria: The Project SEA-EU-NET at the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) – Florian Gruber, Alexander Degelsegger & Cosima Blasy
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-13
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Rezensionen / Book Reviews

  • Rezension: Schneider, H., Jordan, R., & Waibel, M. (Hrsg.) (2012). Umweltkonflikte in Südostasien.Jessica Gärtner
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-14
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  • Book Review: Pye, O. & Bhattacharya, J. (Eds.) (2013). The Palm Oil Controversy in Southeast Asia. A Transnational Perspective. – Melanie Pichler
    DOI 10.4232/10.ASEAS-5.2-15
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