Tourism has become the highlight of many countries to attract many local and international visitors to experience the wonder and uniqueness of that they bring about, while ultimately harnessing the economic benefits that they bring altogether. This requires careful utilization of the object of tourism, especially ones that are culturally and traditionally cared such as customary forests.
Doctorate Candidate at Leiden University Yance Arizona, SH, MH, MA who is also a lecturer of Law Study Program at President University held a guest lecture about the potential of customary forest utilization as a tourist attraction. He did so in front of a number of law students on 3 December 2019 during his visiting research to Osaka University of Tourism funded by SYLFF Fellowship Fund and the Tokyo Foundation. He specifically discussed the comparison of the potential of customary forest’s utilization towards tourism development between Indonesia and Japan.
Yance observed that based on several interviews and literature in Japan, customary forests in Japan, referred to as Iriai-ken or common forests are facing underuse due to minimum utilization. He cited three contributing factors leading to this condition, namely depopulation, industrialization and the lack of dependency towards the products of the forest, as well as anti-commons policies that support privatization and modernization of the forest.
His findings presented that the problem faced by Iriai-ken roots from the tradition that revolves around the decision-making process upon the maintenance of the forest that had traditionally been based on consensus. Should there be a person who rejects the proposed idea, consensus won’t be achieved. Currently, the ownerships of Iriai-ken have been acquired by many and they don’t necessarily reside within the area, making it difficult to reach consensus during the decision-making process.
While there are some communities who would like to keep the forest maintenance traditionally and communally, some others proposed for a more modernized maintenance model including one that based on their traditional practice known as Satoyama, a form of agricultural landscape maintenance that covers broader aspects than that of forest maintenance.
This visiting research and the guest lecture were part of partnerships implementation between President University and Osaka University of Tourism. Afterward, Yance had the chance to meet with the Rector of Osaka University of Tourism to send his gratitude for the warm welcome he received during his stay in Japan and his hope to look forward to better partnerships between Indonesia and Japan, especially the two higher education institutions.