Protection forests are public goods with the function as protection for system that supports the life to manage the water, prevent flood, control erosion, prevent the intrusion of sea water, and keep the land fertilized. Protection forests clearly have important role in keeping the balance of water debit from the rain as the buffering area so the water cycle that fall to the land does not go directly to the sea. This prevents the flood in the downstream river.

Too many functions of protection forests that are known commonly by people in Indonesia. Many people do not know that protection forests with dense forest stands, keep water reserves that become the origin of water springs and produce water stream that can be energy resources, especially electrical energy. Many people know that the source of electrical energy mostly produces by some big electrical power plants that need energy from mineral resources, such as geothermal, coals, crude oil, and natural gas. The existence of those mineral resources is not eternal, especially in Indonesia. Other than that, non-mineral resources to be utilized, such as dam, need high cost of development and maintenance, so state enterprise in the electrical sector, State Electricity Company (PLN) is more focused on power plants with geothermal or coals.

Protection forests with steep contours generally have rivers that flow very year because protection forests have the function as the retainer for rain water and could be strategic place to start small scale power plants, that is also well known as Micro Hydro Electric Power Plants (PLTMH). PLTMH is a power plant with small capacity that can be developed by the people because the equipment used is simpler than those used in Hydroelectric Power Plant. In this case, PLTMH can be the early stage of eco-friendly electric power plant innovation in Indonesia and can give positive impact for local economy progress in the villages that haven’t been provided by electricity by the government yet.

People around the protection forests are the pioneers of PLTMH. People around the forests have taken many roles in keeping the forests condition from interference outside. In fact, many individual inside the group or outsiders that arbitrarily destroyed forests with illegal logging and land fire for individual need, but some of the people that care about the environment will always keep and use the resources balanced and sustainably. The conflict makes the people around the forest need an indicator for them to be forced to keep the forests stands to sustain and also give them direct advantages. Keeping the protection forests is not only the task of people around the forests, but also the need that will directly be preserved. One of PLTMH developments is implemented in Cipeteuy Village, District Sukabumi.

Cipeteuy Village is one of secluded areas in District Sukabumi, West Java. It has more than 150 groups of family, they are mostly working as vegetables farmer. Cipeteuy village is one of villages on the valley of Halimun Salak Mount, so people in Cipeteuy village really keep the preservation of the forests around that area. People that go to the forests only look for woods for cooking. The village is still very far from the city living, but they have a strong sense of belonging towards the forests. People in Cipeteuy Village believe that the protection forests were inheritance from their ancestor that need to be kept well. When the need of woods increased and the area was under the management of Stated Owned Enterprise Perhutani, deforestation increased as well. People who benefits from the woods trade were not from Cipeteuy Village. Because of too much deforestation, Cipeteuy Village was included in the governance of Mount Halimun Salak National Park under the management of BKSDHA.

PLTMH Cisalimar, in Cipeteuy Village was built since 2004, assisted by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) and facilitated by IBEKA (Institut Bisnis dan Ekonomi Kerakyatan or Democratic Economy and Business Institute) under the lead of Ibu Tri Mumpuni. External stakeholders facilitated with fund, materials, and machine needed to build a PLTMH. People around the area worked together in building the PLTMH so it went smoothly. At the condition when it was newly built, relevant stakeholders gave the advice and training for Cipeteuy Villagers in operating PLTMH machine. PLTMH gave a good start in increasing the standard of living and it also make the village institutional living re-live. As the time goes by, in 2005, an organization responsible for the sustainable of PLTMH was established, and it became the origin of Koperasi Masyarakat Desa Cipeteuy with non-governmental based. People’s institution grew since the cooperative were established.

The cooperative was functioned as the village officials that manage the administrative of PLTMH sustainability as well as the electricity need for people. With the electricity of 100-150W/KK, people only pay for 15.000 rupiahs for the maintenance fee of PLTMH. Although the electricity given for each head of family is very small, but people were all helped by the lighting lamp. People do not need to use the candles or oil lamps for lighting, because at that time, electricity was a very priceless and valuable thing. Other than that, the officials were also responsible for keeping and maintaining PLTMH well. The working process done by PLTMH was supported by the water turbine and simple generator with average capacity that can produce about 50 KW energy. Water contained by dam will be redirected to intake canal. Intake is an ornament of civil building structures from PLTMH that redirect the water to the canal that will flow to PLTMH machine supported by water turbine. The canal was made with lower contour so the faster move of water debit will move the turbine that will produce the electricity from generator. The obstacles faced by PLTMH machine maintenance was the leaves trash that were thrown to river during rainy season. People think that this trash is organic waste, but in fact it disturbs the water to get into intake canal. So the PLTMH supervisors need to do survey to clean intake canal for water to flow normally. Other than that, problem faced is the maintenance of turbine machines that need to be lubricated with special lubricants so the machines will not be heated quickly. PLTMH machines are lubricated gradually once a month.

In 2014, PLTMH Cisalimar was still operated. The development of the Village, people get the electricity supply by PLN. The condition happened because of the infrastructures that had been built to the nature of Cipeteuy Village. One factor that made it happen was the existence of PLTMH Cisalimar as the origin of independent village electricity. The villagers are more developed in managing their area, starting from agriculture, entrepreneurship, and village transportation services. The existence of PLTMH Cisalimar was very helpful in collaborating with electricity facilitated by PLN. If PLN electricity was off, electricity from PLTMH will be really helpful as the alternative to provide lighting for the village. People think that PLTMH need to be preserved sustainably because by preserving PLTMH, they will also keep the forests. If there is no PLTMH, people will not feel the advantage of preserving the forests directly. Although it look like getting profit on purpose, it could decrease the way of people’s around the village life that destroy the protection forests so people will always be aware of their needs of electricity by preserving the protection forests.

PLTMH Cisalimar is one example of system indicator in developing integrated institutional village. If researched well, there are many advantages that can be taken if stakeholders can give those facilities for the villagers, especially people who lived near protection forests. The advantages were not only material benefit for private project implementer that build PLTMH to achieve profit share and administrative benefit for government project implementer that covered social programs, but more to immeasurable social benefit. Those social benefits gave moral support so the people around the forests can feel the benefit from watershed area that flowed because of the protection forests. PLTMH helped the revolution of way of life and village people’s institutional that couldn’t be developed and became the pioneer of independent village. PLTMH can be one of independent electricity development program solutions that support the creation of electric energy equality in the whole country and became the solution for limited non-renewable energy resources, so human will always live in harmony with the nature.

Third Winner of SDA Essay Competition 2015
Source: Forest Watch Indonesia