The wild honey is now sold as “Mt. Mutis” honey, exported mainly to Java, Sulawesi and Bali in Indonesia. The commercial success story is good news for Kanoppi’s research into non-timber forest products and the multiple benefits they can bring poor communities.
The sale of honey brings additional income for the whole community. Since it doesn’t involve cutting down trees, the harvest has a low impact on the protected Mount Mutis Nature Reserve. And because the continued production of honey relies on the health of the entire ecosystem, there is an additional incentive for the community to preserve it for generations to come.
Standing by a Eucalyptus alba, or white gum tree. the tree's blossoms are the source of Mount Mutis wild honey. Nanang Sujana/CIFOR
Local law, national law
Overlapping laws and regulations from the central, provincial and district governments determine the types of forest product uses allowed in the area. However, the research has found that local people are generally unaware of these rules and how they apply to the forest products that they depend on for their livelihoods. Nonetheless, customary laws are inadvertently delivering on national laws by regulating access to, and use of, protected forest.
Kanoppi’s research has found that the traditions surrounding the wild honey harvest may be among the most sustainable and effective governance measures now protecting the national nature reserve.
At other times of the year, nearby communities collect honey made from the blossoms of the Eucalyptus urophylla, known locally as the ampupu tree. But the Eucalyptus alba honey harvest is reserved for the Olin-Fobia community. Mutual respect among communities in the Mutis-Timau landscape for traditions regarding forest governance, and shared interest in the continuation of those traditions, are in effect fulfilling national policies on forest protection.
The project’s recommendation to support the honey harvest tradition has already been adopted in the district government’s strategy on landscape-level integrated management of non-timber forest products, as a reference for local government agencies.
Ani says that this success suggests great potential for customary laws in sustainable natural resource management. It also suggests that better participation is needed by local people in creating the laws that affect them and their livelihoods, she says.
Ani works as part of the Kanoppi research project, a combined effort between the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). The Kanoppi project aims to develop the production and marketing of timber and non-timber forest products that can improve smallholder livelihoods across Indonesia.
Additional contributors to this story: Yeni F. Nomeni, Melki Fobia, Novemris Tefa and Oktofianus Tanesi of the Olin-Fobia community.
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This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.