I believe that the local people should have the right to benefit socially and economically from their natural resources as long as it doesn't put a burden on future generations (ecologically sound). This for me is the true essence of sustainability.
Village Teak is grown on small plots of land owned by the local farmers in the Wonosari regency South East of Yogyakarta. This area has the most unforgiving farmland in all Java. The heavy clay soil is lying on a bed of porous lime stone rock. In the dry season this clay soil becomes hard as rock and dry as a desert. Besides cassava, corn, acasia and teak nothing really grows there.
Agro forestry is the most suitable use of this land. The top canopy of teak and acasia trees gives some protection from the unforgiving sun light to the cassava growing below. The roots of the cassava are the staple food for the locals, replacing rice.
To give space to the neighboring trees every five years the farmers do a thinning cut, replacing some old mature trees with young trees. This is an ongoing process, keeping the vulnerable soil always protected from the elements.
The proceeds from the sales of those trees give a welcome additional income to these local farmers.
Did you know that most of the village teak comes on the market in the months of June and July? This is the time of the year when parents have to pay tuition fees for the school of their children and this for generations to come. This for me is the core essence of sustainability!
Steven Van der Veken
Master in Science, Major in Forestry and Management of Natural Resources at K.U Leuven university, Belgium.
Owner of PT (MA) KINI.