(2008) JLP 57: 141-165
Yonariza and Ganesh P. Shivakoti
This paper argues that decentralization is a precondition for co-management. However, it is not self-sufficient and there should be an incentive mechanism established through a multilevel decentralization in order for local people to participate. When decentralization at multilevel is applied to co-management for protected areas, its success depends on the participation of all parties based on incentive mechanisms specified. Recent government decentralization in Indonesia is a case in point. Central government has made itself ready for partnership with all levels of governments down to communities by adopting a decentralization policy. However, these opportunities are taken with reluctance by local governments considering the cost they would have to bear, and the decentralization process does not extend beyond the district administration level. We analyze these issues by examining the Barisan I Nature Reserve management in West Sumatra, which straddles four autonomous districts. Different initiatives have been taken by district governments and local communities in protecting this area after the implementation of government decentralization. The study findings support the argument that, if decentralized district governance mechanisms support local communities with additional incentives beyond traditional incentives, concerned stakeholders take an active role in managing their protected areas, thus forming a system of co-management. In addition, the paper proposes an alternative model of co-management. This is based on local incentives and emphasizes that environmental and ecological benefits ensue if a protected area adopts multilevel decentralization down to the village level.