Dampen forest exploitation by changing the forestry education curriculum in Indonesia


Although Indonesia is a country with the 8th largest forest area in the world with a forest area of 120.6 million hectares , or around 63% of the total land area of ​​Indonesia, deforestation is the third highest in the world in the world in 2018.

This is due to forest governance that is dominated by careless exploitation of wood and the conversion of forests into agricultural land .

One of the triggers for these exploitative practices on forests is the Indonesian forestry education curriculum which still regards forests as natural resources for economic commodities.

As a forestry researcher, I see the need for forestry education reform in Indonesia to reduce exploitation of forest resources and protect people from the climate crisis.

Changes to the existing curriculum can be made by incorporating global issues, such as the climate crisis and biodiversity, into the forestry education curriculum.

Limited to economic commodities

Several global reports mention that Forestry Education in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, is still limited to timber harvesting practices and fails to respond to global challenges in the forestry sector.

In Indonesia, we get basic knowledge about the role of forests as the lungs of the world to global warming.

But, this information is implanted with the understanding that forests are renewable natural resources and have the ability to regenerate themselves, like water and air.

This understanding finally explains why forest protection efforts in Indonesian people are still low.

This is also reflected in the forestry education curriculum.

Higher education level curriculum is still oriented towards how to achieve wood production.

This can be seen from the majority of forestry lecture materials that focus on the interests of production, especially wood, rather than studying other aspects such as the role of forests in climate change, biodiversity conservation, community income, food needs, and forestry related science.

Without studying these aspects, forestry education graduates will tend to continue to see this sector from only one perspective, namely wood resources.

Adaptive education with global developments

Exploitative forestry education will not be suitable to face the problems in the forestry sector today, ranging from deforestation (permanent loss of forest cover), forest degradation (declining forest quality), to the climate crisis.

One solution is to apply a multidisciplinary approach to science and incorporate global development issues into the curriculum.

Several studies in other countries, such as Laos and Finland , have shown that the need for higher education in forestry is not only about natural science, but also social science.

In Indonesia, this approach can be started from giving assignments in the form of a capstone project , which is a task with a problem-solving orientation that involves many multidisciplinary sciences.

In my experience, this has not been done much in higher education institutions in Indonesia.

For example, to formulate a strategy for flood mitigation in urban areas, it is necessary to integrate a variety of scientific backgrounds such as regional planning and urban planning and governance, not only the expertise of forestry students in the role of forest vegetation is needed.

A larger example, planning for the construction of a new capital in Kalimantan, which is in a forest area, requires attention not only in terms of infrastructure, but also forestry experts.

This can be an example of a multi-disciplinary capstone project .

To prevent deforestation and forest degradation on a massive scale due to the process of clearing forest areas, it is very important to involve forestry experts who understand the broad context of forest planning related to development and urban planning.

This assignment will require various approaches to social and natural science, forestry and non-forestry.

Author Bio: Andita Aulia Pratama is a Lecturer and Researcher at the Institute of Forestry Faculty at Gadjah Mada University