Local Use of Agricultural Lands and Natural Resources as the Commons in Gunung Halimun National Park, West Java, Indonesia

Volume (Issue): Vol.12 (1)
Peer-reviewed Article

The theory of the commons encompasses two interpretations: one based on ‘manifest customs’, whilst the other relates to ‘latent customs’. The former asserts that individuals behave as rational economic units, pursuing their own profit based on economic mechanisms, whilst social restrictions relating to the use of resources within communities act to prevent the total destruction of the natural environment. In contrast, the latter holds that people behave according to the morality or ethics embedded within the society, and that this contributes to sustainable resource management.
A field survey conducted in West Java as part of the present study revealed that a system of communal ownership of lands and resources is widely practiced on land that is strictly private property, including paddy fields, cultivated swiddens, gardens and so forth, facilitated by the distribution of land, lending and borrowing of land and collaborative labour systems. This customary management system is considered a prime example of the commons resource management. Furthermore, communal lands were also seen to play a significant role in the distribution of land and resources amongst community members to supplement daily needs. In addition, these customary land-use systems, as the commons, are considered to contribute towards mitigating the gap between rich and poor.