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Rich Forests, Poor People Resource Control and Resistance in Java

  • by Nancy Lee Peluso (Author)
  • November 1994
  • First Edition
  • Paperback
    $33.95,  £27.00
  • Title Details

    Rights: Available worldwide
    Pages: 336
    ISBN: 9780520089310
    Trim Size: 6 x 9
    Illustrations: 19 b/w illustrations, 6 figures, 13 tables, 2 maps

Read Chapter 3
Chapter 3: The Emergence of "Scientific" Forestry in Colonial Java

Historians have paid too much attention to revolutions and too little to the creation of political stability. . . . Stability, no less than revolution, may have its own kind of Terror.

E. P. Thompson, Whigs and Hunters

Of all these changes, the restriction of forest use was one of the most galling to the peasants; resources that had always been as free as the air they breathed and that remained close at hand were suddenly being denied to them. Forestry officials might be well-intentioned—though they seemed to be as concerned with forest revenue as with conservation—but their actions deprived peasants of what seemed natural rights. . . . Such restrictions constituted . . . a leading grievance in more than one Southeast Asian peasant movement.

James C. Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant

The nineteenth century was a turning point in forest management and the forms of state control over the teak and nonteak forests of Java. It was then that a bureaucratic, colonial Forest Service drew boundaries between forest and agricultural land—on maps and in the field—and established police to restrict people's access to trees and other forest products. Through a process of trial and error, regulations for profitable tree plantation management were encoded in colonial law, as were the philosophies of forest conservation for hydrological purposes. The ideology of "scientific" forestry was embraced by the colonial state and its foresters, while local institutions of forest access and property were gradually phased out of the legal discourse. 1 The ideas of this period, and the impacts of these policies on the lives of forest-dwelling people, remain significant today; the last forest laws effected by the Dutch government were drawn up in the late 1920s and continue to dictate contemporary Indonesian forestry.

This period was also the beginning of the foresters' great concern with their eminent rights of domain over land, timber, and the demarcation of forest boundaries. Their possessiveness is seen today in the persistent use of the terms of exclusion that criminalize customary rights of access to forest products and land: "forest theft," "encroachment," "squatting," and "illegal grazing." Forest dwellers continued to engage in these activities, despite the pejorative labels, in their practice of everyday life. They had to resist the state's increasing resource control in order to subsist, and thus were making, in effect, a political statement. As the twentieth century wore on, peasants continued to counter-appropriate forest land and species. Their actions, and the formalization of the colonial state's self-declared rights to the forest, set the stage for the complex conflicts that continue between foresters and forest villagers today.


The VOC was bankrupt by the end of the eighteenth century, largely because of the depredations and corruption of its own officials. In 1796 the Company's directors were replaced by a committee appointed by the government of the Netherlands. As of December 31, 1799, when the VOC's charter expired, the Dutch state replaced the Company as proprietor and administrator. The Batavian Republic inherited an extensive and wealthy colony and assumed the VOC's debt of 134 million guilders (Vlekke 1960:239). From 1808 to 1811, when Holland was under Napoleonic rule, Marshal Daendels served as governor-general of Java. Soon after the Napoleonic annexation of Holland, the English invaded Java. Stamford Raffles served as lieutenant-governor in Java from 1811 to 1815. The English placed William of Orange on the Dutch throne, and on August 19, 1816, John Fendall, the English successor to Raffles, formally transferred Java to three Dutch commissioners-general (Irwin 1967:28-35). 2

When Governor-General Daendels arrived in Java in 1808, he organized the exploitation of Java's teak forests, passed edicts on appropriate management, and secured the government's monopoly on teak, forest labor, and shipbuilding. For the first time in the colony's history, a quasimodern government forest service, the Dienst van het Boschwezen, was created, with "rights" to control land, trees, and forest labor (Soepardi 1974a:20). 3 At the time, only teak timber was valued for its profits and shipbuilding; thus the domain of this early forest service was limited to lands where teak grew or could be grown.

Four elements in Daendels's system would retain at least philosophical importance through the ensuing two centuries:

The declaration of all forests as the domain of the state (Landsdomein), to be managed for the benefit of the state.
The assignment of forest management to a branch of the civil service created expressly for that purpose.
The division of the forest into tracts (percelen) to be logged and replanted on a rotating basis.
The restriction of villagers' access to teak for commercial purposes, allowing them only to collect deadwood and nontimber forest products freely. 4
In three years, Daendels was unable to secure the apparatus of the state forest management agency. Though his ideas were written down as regulations and carried out in the field during his rule, he was not in power long enough to ensure their continuity. Key components of Daendels's plans changed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, namely, the structure of the Forest Service, the scale of its power, and the elimination of the blandong labor services (Schuitemaker 1950:39). Nevertheless, his attempt to implement a kind of a state forest management agency was an important step influencing the Forest Service born in the mid-nineteenth century.

Daendels was determined to manage the teak forests so the colonial state could profit from them for decades to come. He required the inspector general to report any incidents of high-level corruption, slackness in duty, or breaking the oath of office, and to swear "he would never scheme with wood traders, award them wood, or steal wood himself" (Soepardi 1974a:54-55). He also established the first regulations punishing misuse of the forest as defined by the state. The testimony of a "well-known person of good name" that a Javanese or Chinese had been caught "red-handed" or "suspiciously wandering without purpose in the forest" was sufficient cause for imprisonment. The maximum penalties for forest criminals were ten years in prison or the payment of a fine of 200 rijks dollars. Two-thirds of this fine went to the state and one-third to the person who reported the crime. Appeals could be made, but punishments would be reduced only to exile or shorter prison terms (van der Chijs 1896, 15:120-21). These regulations represented a harsh change from previous circumstances, but they were difficult to enforce; no forest police were yet patrolling.

Besides passing edicts concerning the technical aspects of forest management (issued August 21, 1808), Daendels appointed bosgangers, or subdistrict forest managers. The bosgangers oversaw logging, replanting, collection of teak seeds, and the girdling of trees the year before they were to be cut (Soepardi 1974a:55-56). Like the forest overseers working for the VOC, Daendels's bosgangers were mostly ex-soldiers (Brascamp 1917:207).

Daendels eliminated all private forest exploitation, and monopolized the trade and transport of teak timber for the state. This meant that all leases of villages and the forests they were to cut for private entrepreneurs were voided as well (Boomgaard 1987:23). In Rembang Residency, forest laborers, their village lands, and the adjacent forest lands were placed under direct administration of a Board of Forests (Furnivall 1944:65). Each woodcutter was given one catty (approximately 1.5 kilogram) of hulled rice a day and a small annual allowance of iron, salt, and gunpowder (Raffles 1817, I:183). The laborers worked eight to fourteen days in the forest at a stretch, during the work season (February to November), and were allowed eight to fourteen days' rest after each period of work (Boomgaard 1987:23).

Daendels's successor during the five-year interlude of English control in Java, Lieutenant-Governor Stamford Raffles, was determined to save money, and dealt a crushing blow to many of Daendels's state forest management measures. He felt that the state was overinvolved in forest management and that the system was expensive and unnecessary. Raffles retracted almost all of the forestry organizational reforms implemented by Daendels. Only in Rembang was a special forest superintendent appointed; in other residencies, the task of forest administration and oversight fell to the residents (Raffles 1817, I:184).

Raffles believed that the Dutch had sponsored the cutting of an excessive quantity of poor teak timber, below the quality required by contemporary shipbuilding standards. Believing that Indian teak was of much higher quality, he reasoned that making Javanese teak competitive within the trading sphere of the British empire would be too costly. Raffles felt the government monopoly on teak sale and shipbuilding created demands on government funds to police its interests. Moreover, he observed, forest laborers were oppressed and lowering wood prices would only cause them greater hardship (Raffles 1817, I:183).

Raffles initiated a policy of reserving the largest and best forests for the state and allowing private entrepreneurs to lease and log the rest (ibid.). Raffles also parceled out forest land as "gifts" to Javanese elites. In 1813, for example, he gave "Raden Adipatty Singasarie Penathan Djoeda ... and his heirs forever ... a tract of forestland situated in the District of Brebes \[in then Residency Tegal\] as a free gift.... This land was then \[to be\] entirely free from cultivation and habitation" (Zwart 1934:547). In his History of Java, Raffles was vague about his own conservation measures, but estimated that 40,000 or 50,000 beams could be extracted each year without damage. He was also more lenient in prosecuting forest "crimes." Not only did he want to save money, but he had also relinquished the government's absolute monopoly on teak. Philosophically, this was a major departure from previous state and VOC forest policies.

Another, perhaps unexpected, result of Raffles's "liberalization" of Daendels's forest management plans was the beginning of a long debate over the meaning of the words used in British treaties with the Javanese sultan and sunan. It remained unclear whether the susuhunan was granting the British rights to timber or to the land on which it grew. The text of the 1811 agreement between the English and the sunan indicates that the sunan's claim to sovereignty over the land was not at that time (and probably not in earlier times) being transferred:

His Highness reserves to the Honerable \[sic\] East Indian Company the exclusive privilege of felling teak and other timber for shipbuilding, in the forests of His dominions, and H H further engages to supply labourers for that purpose and for the transportation of the same to the limits of H H dominions and such labourers shall in every instance be paid by the British government at fair and equitable rates. \['Het gouvernement en de djatibosschen in Soerakarta," 1917:697\]
A treaty signed the next year reestablished British access to timber and labor, while indicating that the sultan retained his rights to the land, or at least his rights to rule a particular territory and its inhabitants. "H H secures to the British Government the sole right and property of the teak timber within the whole of the country subject to His administrations" (ibid., 698, emphasis added). Later, Dutch writers of the first set of scientific forestry laws and other colonial legal documents interpreted the control of the Javanese ruler over land or territory as being equivalent to Western property rights, which connote ownership. This interpretation did not allow for the more complex aspects of access to land and land-based resources operating in Java's forests at the time. Local people, regional rulers, and entrepreneurs were engaged in a "layered" system of rights to control or use the forest and its products. This system was flexible and adapted to different needs and different circumstances.

When the Dutch reassumed control of Java in 1816 they adopted some of Raffles's more profitable ideas, but also reestablished the Forest Board of Daendels's time. In 1826 the commissioners-general abolished the Forest Board and transferred control over the forests and forest laborers to individual residents, thus decentralizing control over the forests (Boomgaard 1987:26). Whatever efforts these residents made to regulate forest cutting, however, conflicting objectives from other government sectors accelerated the process. During the Java War (1825-30), for example, the state cut many teak beams and logs in Central Java to build forts and bridges and to block roads (Soepardi 1974a:58-59).

In 1832, under the Cultivation System, 5 the forests were brought under the jurisdiction of the Director of Cultures, though the residents retained effective administrative control over the forests in their own districts (Cordes 1881:212). Teak forests were cut heavily with little regard for logging regulations. The tallest, straightest trees were selected to build sugar factories, coffee warehouses, tobacco-drying sheds, and housing compounds. An extensive road system was built through sections of the teak forest complex to deliver the prized logs to sawmills and woodworking centers (Schuitemaker 1950:40). Luxurious teak homes were constructed for plantation managers and highly placed personnel. In addition, roasting coffee, drying tobacco, and industrial processing of sugar cane from the extensive government plantations required tremendous quantities of fuel. In two regencies of Semarang Residency, 60,000 logs were cut just to build tobacco-drying sheds, while in Pekalongan Residency 24,000 cubic feet of firewood were cut annually for sugar refining. By regulations effective between 1830 and 1836, local people were required to cut and haul wood to the factories. After that year, factories were assigned their own forests from which they were permitted to cut their fuel. Apparently, the factories did very little reforestation. Later, when these enterprises were no longer subsidized by wood deliveries, they split the thick walls of the old sheds to build more sheds or to sell (Cordes 1881:208-10; Departemen Kehutanan 1986, I:67).

Between 1837 and 1840 an average of 16,300 blandongs were employed annually by the state; until 1843 their average annual teak cut was approximately 100,000 logs. Twenty years later this average annual cut had nearly doubled to 175,000 logs (Boomgaard 1987:27), and unauthorized teak cutting, as always, continued. Private shipbuilders, who were legally required to purchase wood from the government, obtained teak from Chinese, Arab, and European middlemen with personal connections in forest villages (Zwart 1930:974).

The other drain on forest resources imposed by the nineteenth-century colonial government was the construction of roads and railroads (Kerbert 1919:626, 627, 647-50; Boomgaard 1987:28). Daendels started the construction of a cross-Java post road in 1808. Railroad construction began in the 1860s, and by 1880 nearly 1,500 kilometers of track had been laid for state railroads and steam trains. West and East Java were connected by continuous rail tracks in 1894, when the line linking Batavia, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surakarta, and Surabaya was completed (Shiraishi 1989:8).

Forests were cut both to construct and to make way for roads and railroads. Teak trees were cut to size for the construction of sleepers, and fuelwood was needed for the steam trains. Railroad sleepers were also exported; some 280,000 sleepers were exported from Java in 1882 alone (Kerbert 1919:625). Eventually, the State Railway (SS) was given its own forest concession to supply itself with teak.

The construction of railways also facilitated the extraction and transport of teak from the forests ever more distant from the coast. The first forest railroad was built in North Kradenan in 1901 and 1902. By the end of 1912 the Forest Service's own railroads had 600 kilometers of track, and by 1916 about 1,000 kilometers of track (Kerbert 1919:627). In 1909 and 1910 construction of monorails was also begun to transport teak from the forest interior (Departemen Kehutanan 1986, I:149).

In sum, though the foundations of state forest management were being established in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the power of other government sectors and the progression of colonial extraction were such that the forests' major enemy was the state itself. Technological developments and applications greatly influenced both the power that the Forest Service was gaining in the early twentieth century and the shape of the forest resource from which it was extracting more and more timber. In other colonial economies, such as India, the pattern was one of a triangular conflict between the state's interests in protecting and producing from the forest, industrial wood demand, and forest users' subsistence and cash needs (Guha 1990). In the case of Java, the points of the triangle were similar but different components of the state often opposed each other. Moreover, many of the wood-consuming industries were state enterprises or directly served the interests of the state or of individual colonial officers.


The 1865 forestry laws 6 are credited with being the first forestry laws for Java. Along with the Domeinverklaring of 1870, which declared all unclaimed and forest lands as the domain of the state, these laws laid the basis for "scientific forestry" as it is practiced today. Although the philosophical principles of state forest management had been nurtured for some hundred years or more in the Indies, and elsewhere for millennia (see, for example, Fernow 1911:13-16), there was a difference between the new scientific regulations and the preceding years of declarations and treaties. Land control superseded species and labor control as the key to the state's forest policy. The state did not give up these old forms of control, but as times and the nature of the colonial state changed, so did the modes of forest control.

To recap the events leading up to the creation of the first scientific forest laws: In the half-century after control of Java was restored to the Dutch in 1816, a flurry of regulations regarding forest management had been made and retracted (Schuitemaker 1950:39-41; Soepardi 1974a:49-61). Individuals' usufruct and ownership rights to teak were defined more clearly under the Dutch colonial state. For example, Daendels issued directives 7 stating that teak trees growing on private property or on the private estates (tanah partikelir) could be cut for the owner's own use without government permission. But if the teak were transported off the property or sold, a 10 percent tax was due the government (Soepardi 1974a:56). This was similar to the 10 percent tax paid the sultans by the VOC and other renters of forests and forest villages. Subsistence and commercial uses of teak were thus differentiated in policy, with the location of the teak (on private or state lands) creating further divisions in the policy. Teak transport was taxed because it was assumed to be for commercial purposes.

The nature of the Javanese kings' claims on the forest, however, had not simultaneously invalidated local systems of forest use. Such a notion of concurrent rights in forest products and land differed greatly from the systems of absolute domain imposed subsequently by the Dutch. To the Javanese rulers, land had been important insofar as it bore profitable or useful fruits (food, wood) and was worked by subject populations. Territorial control depended more on the balance of power between the king and regional rulers (Moertono 1981:111-14). But as the Company annexed territory, territorial control became more important, and state-imposed controls on forest lands left little or no room for layering local, regional, and statewide systems of claims to forest resources.

Two other aspects of the new colonial state's forest regulations concerned forest villagers. One was the nature of changes in labor requirements, and is treated in the following section on labor. The other concerned the government's limiting villagers' access to the forest to cut wood for household or other uses and discouraging cattle grazing in young stands. The policies on villagers' rights to cut wood were particularly ambiguous.

These latter restrictions were irregularly imposed and easily misinterpreted. In all forests from Cirebon Residency eastward that were not designated for large-scale exploitation, forest villagers and woodcutters were allowed to cut some wood for their own use, but were restricted to logs less than twenty feet long and six "thumbs" wide. Cutting wood for rivercraft, carts, and the needs of regional government was allowed. The cutting of wood for charcoal or teak timber that the government might harvest in the future (an unpredictable variable) was also forbidden. Forest villagers could use waste wood, stumps, roots, and underbrush. If they used wood for restricted purposes, it was to be confiscated and the offender punished (Brascamp 1924b:917-18).

The following sample of these paper regulations illustrates the ambiguity of policies governing people's access to wood. In 1822 Staatsblad no. 43 permitted forest villagers to cut fuelwood and timber for house construction or agricultural tools (Cordes 1881:204); this was retracted in 1838 by Staatsblad no. 19. In 1842, however, Staatsblad no. 5 stated that wood could be cut from the state forests for construction of riverboats and carts (ibid., 211-12). This was augmented by Staatsblad no. 26 in 1850, which allowed forest villagers to cut wood from government forests for riverboats, oxcarts, and horsecarts. Staatsblad no. 3 in 1851 required villagers to secure permits from local government to cut wood for subsistence uses (ibid., 212). Finally, in 1865 it was decided that forest villagers could take branches, fallen wood, and the wood from forest thinnings for their own use, but in collecting these they had to be "under close supervision" and were restricted to particular forests (Staatsblad no. 96/1865) (Soepardi 1974a:61).

The German structures and ideology of "scientific" forest management came directly to Java in the mid-nineteenth century. Both colonial and contemporary foresters define scientific management as that which is governed by a systematic adherence to working plans for cutting and replanting the forest (in forest plantations), according to prevailing principles of silviculture developed through experimental trials over time. 8 The laws of 1865 were the first to describe in detail the procedures by which teak was to be logged, thinned, and otherwise managed: in even-aged stands to be cut over long rotations (eighty to one hundred years). In 1849 the Dutch brought two German foresters and a German surveyor to Java and stationed them in Rembang (Koloniaal Verslag 1849:137). 9 Within five years, the German general manager of this valuable teak forest had established a simple, regulated parcel system that fixed areas to be cut and replanted each year (Lugt 1933:33). These first foresters were joined in 1855 by another German expert, who was made the inspector of forests in 1858. In 1857 four aspiring Dutch foresters from Java were sent to Germany to study forestry (Cordes 1881:224). 10

The development of scientific forestry laws was concurrent with other changes in the nature of the colonial state and affected the structure of the Colonial Forest Service (Boschwezen). It was becoming more and more bureaucratic, the precursor to a contemporary state forest service. Based on laws, using professional foresters trained in forest science to make management decisions, drawing maps of the forest and its other holdings, and policing the forest as a means of protecting state "property," forest management in Java followed the more general pattern of bureaucratization emerging in all sectors of colonial management.

The forest laws were written by a committee appointed by the governor-general in 1860. The committee consisted of an inspector of estates (plantations), a forestry inspector, and an official of the justice department (Soepardi 1974a:60; Departemen Kehutanan 1986, I:74). The roles of these participants were, respectively, to develop a plantation-style management system for timber crops, employing wage laborers from neighboring forest villages; to make sure trees were planted at the proper intervals and that the timing of harvesting, planting, and thinning of the timber crops was in accordance with the trees' potential yield and lifecycle; and to identify crimes (e.g., tree theft or unauthorized cutting, illegal grazing, and setting forest fires) against the states' forest-based property and set punishment for them. Thus, the Dutch planned to "order" the forests for "proper" management, to follow the principles of science in carrying out their work, and to prosecute those who thwarted their efforts at orderliness according to a set of laws of their own making.

Territorially consolidated management of state forests, based on scientific principles and dependent on plantation labor, became the accepted and legal means of forest use. Except for granting local people access to wood thinned in the process of management, and to deadwood or fallen branches, the laws criminalized most traditional forest uses by forest villagers. The changes in the definitions of forest crimes are summarized in table 3.1.

TABLE 3.1 Criminal Actions in the Forest,

Under Nineteenth-Century Laws

Under 1860 Plans Under 1875 Regulations
Stealing wood
Forest theft Forest theft
Forest damage Forest damage
Grazing cattle in young stands Grazing cattle in young stands
Setting fires in the forest Setting fires in the forest
Traveling off the roads in the forest
with horsecarts, oxcarts, or cattle
Carrying cutting tools off the roads
in the forest
Transporting wood without a permit Transporting wood without a permit
Damaging border markers
Cutting without a permit Transporting wood without prior payment
Selling wood from private lands
without paying taxes
Encroaching on forest land
SOURCE: Departemen Kehutanan 1986, I:75.
Theft was a particularly nebulous concept and looked different in different settings. For example, the government's wood quotas were cut and shipped to Rembang or Surabaya where officials from other departments clamored for the best cuts. Meanwhile, private firms unable to acquire wood from government sources continued to build ships or handle timber, sometimes selling to government departments, in spite of the state's monopoly. However, bureaucratic procedures were tedious and changed frequently, as did sources of wood, private entrepreneurs' agents in forest settlements, and the means of transporting the trees from the forest. Ship orders had to be filled within nine to twelve months of receipt, barely enough time to acquire timber through legitimate or clandestine sources, to cut and haul the wood, to build the ships, and to send them to the client, with no time to dry the wood sufficiently before construction (Zwart 1930:973). Village contacts, and the networks for illegally cutting and carrying wood to the buyers, were of critićal importance to the private entrepreneur. In many instances, the government turned a blind eye to this sort of theft while arresting and prosecuting villagers taking teak for their houses.

In keeping with the land classification processes being initiated throughout the colony, the 1865 forest laws labeled and began measuring the forests under specific types of cover and under different forms of management. For the first time, nonteak forests (Wildhoutbosschen, literally, "wild woods" or "junglewood forests"), particularly those above certain elevations or topping the island's string of volcanoes, were included in the category of state forest (Lugt 1933:112). Unlike the teak forests, they were placed under state management for protection, not production.

Teak forests were divided into those which were under regulated management and those which were not (Lugt 1933:33). In teak forests under regulated management, private industries bid at public auctions for the rights to cut particular tracts (concessions). Between 1865 and 1874 the number of private concessions increased from seven to seventeen, and private companies were felling some 51 percent of the annual teak cut (Kerbert 1919:629; cf. Boomgaard 1987:31).

Management in these forests was much more intensive than in the others, with the industry being responsible not only for cutting and transporting the timber, but also for replanting. Government foresters handled policing and maintenance of the nonregulated teak forests and the nonteak forests. Government foresters eventually supervised replanting in all forests. By directly involving state foresters in the management of only some of the forests, the state saved money. However, wood theft, fire, and grazing plagued the nonregulated teak forests and nonteak forests, incurring high costs. As a result, in 1874 all teak and nonteak forests except those in the (now greatly reduced) principalities of Surakarta and Yogyakarta were categorized as "regulated" (Cordes 1881:251).

By 1875 another set of forest laws, including regulations on policing and the punishments for various forest crimes, had been put into effect (Lugt 1933:33; Schuitemaker 1950:41; Soepardi 1974a:51, 61). 11 Private industry now bid on parcels in all teak forests, not just the best ones. 12 The pace of the timber industry's involvement was slowed by the international depression of the 1880s, causing a drop in the number of concessions, the amount cut, and an 11 percent drop in the proportion of wood cut by private logging companies by 1885. By 1896, however, there were eleven times as many concessions as there had been in 1865 when the forest laws were first passed and they reportedly accounted for 93 percent of the teak harvest (Kerbert 1919:629; Boomgaard 1987:31). Nearly three-quarters of these contractors used clear-cutting methods (Koloniaal Verslag 1896:222). These methods were sanctioned by the Forest Service.

The second phase of colonial forest control was well established by the end of the nineteenth century. The state was appropriating forest lands and, like the Forest Service monopoly on the species of teak, forest land appropriation by the state was justified by colonial law. The Forest Service's conservation function was used to argue for state acquisition of watershed areas. Both land and species controls were accompanied by a liturgy of colonial production objectives and conservationism. As we will see, the system of labor control also evolved through this period.


The state's direct control of forest production through forced labor, the blandongdiensten, continued through the era of the Cultivation System, ending with the general trend toward "liberal" policies and the "freeing" of labor to work for wages on agricultural and timber crop plantations. New forms of labor tying began, just after the end of the blandongdiensten, with the initiation of the tumpang sari system of reforestation.

The Blandongdiensten and Beyond

When Raffles took over the administration of Java for four short but significant years, he was unsatisfied with the Dutch form of the blandongdiensten, complaining that forest laborers, exempt from head and land taxes, "contributed nothing to government revenue but their labor." He decided that forest workers should be subjected to the same land rents as all other peasants. Rather than paying land rents in cash, however, the forest workers' "wages" were to take the form of tax remissions. The transaction only took place on paper: forest labor was credited in value for taxes due on the agricultural lands worked. At the same time, private timber concerns paid the government a 10 percent tax for any timber they cut and also contracted with local villagers for forest labor—often simply by paying their land taxes (Raffles 1817, I:183; Brascamp 1922b:172).

Under Raffles's version of the blandongdiensten, woodcutters and timber haulers had to work eight out of twelve months a year (April to November), 13 and were under an obligation to guard the forests during the other four months, in exchange for exemption from land rent. Whole villages were responsible for providing labor and buffaloes. According to the policy, half the "working men" of a village were supposed to be left free to work the rice fields at any time during the season.

One advantage to the government of the "new" system was the willingness of the people "in lend their own buffaloes to assist those of the government in dragging heavy timber, which could not be removed otherwise without great expence \[sic\], while their children at other times watch and attend the cattle belonging to the government" (Raffles 1817, I:185). Raffles thus created a system for putting all the resources of the forest settlements at the immediate disposal of the government, at a cost (the value of their land rent) less than one-third the potential cost of wage laborers hired to cut and haul the wood.

When the Dutch returned to Java in 1816, blandongs remained liable for land rents and continued to pay them by laboring in the forest. Villagers were still required to provide the quotas of draft animals. However, buffalo that died "in the line of duty" were supposed to be replaced by the government and loggers were provided with axes and other work tools (Hasanu 1983). All villagers also had to help build logging roads. To work off their land rents, an owner of a team of buffalo had to deliver the equivalent of fifteen giant teak trees or thirty-five smaller ones to the log yards. Small wage payments were given out in some forests. In some districts of Rembang, daily wages were 8.5 cents for blandongs, 16.5 cents for group leaders, and 21 cents for the log haulers with a pair of buffaloes (Cordes 1881:215). 14 In other forests, small salt and rice allotments 15 were paid to the workers in lieu of cash (Brascamp 1922c:1097). What percentage of these wages and rations reached the forest laborers is unknown, for it is likely that they, too, were administered through either regents, village heads, or other intermediaries assigned by the Dutch to be representatives of the forest laborers. In most locales, the state's forest production activities had to be subsidized by forest villagers' own food production.

No small number of blandongs was employed. At each regulated logging site, some 100 to 300 woodcutters and 100 to 400 teams of draft animals were employed (Cordes 1881:216). Cordes lists the number of people required for woodcutting activities in certain districts of Rembang in 1865, the last year of the blandongdiensten (table 3.2), but many more men were involved, as the village division of labor provided for the rotation of those in labor service at any one time. 16

Logging and Hauling Labor in Selected Rembang Districts, 1865

Logging Site District Regency Woodcutters Animal Teams
Sekaran Jatirogo Tuban 150 225
Tambakmerak Tinawun Bojonegoro 250 225
Bayangan Tinawun Bojonegoro 250 225
Ngawen Ngawen Blora 125 100
Blimbing Panolan Blora 200 200
Kedongtuban Panolan Blora 125 150
SOURCE: Adapted from Cordes 1881:216.
In 1865, as part of the new forest laws and in keeping with the general trend toward liberalization (through private industry's involvement in timbering), the blandongdiensten was abolished in favor of a free labor system. The employment of free laborers had been tried as early as 1855 in the Bancar district of Tuban, with the wood being hewn in the forest and hauled through the forest for an average distance of 12 kilometers. The foresters were so pleased with the outcome that they tried the system in three more districts the following year (Cordes 1881:220-21).

As colonial policy and political economy evolved, forest workers were forced to work in the forests in more indirect ways than had been the case when regents or village heads mustered able-bodied men for corvée labor. The abolition of the blandongdiensten created the need for cash to pay the workers' land rents. The land rent owed would no longer be calculated as a shadow price against the value of wages. However, as the state consolidated its forest resources, forest dwellers were increasingly restricted from converting the forest lands to agriculture and from collecting forest products.

Under the new, formalized forest laws, villagers were required to purchase wood for housing—an option that few could afford. The limited quantities of timber available for private purchase were still overpriced for the poor. Nongovernment wood extraction and trade went underground. From the government's perspective, anyone taking wood from the teak forests without permission was a thief. Yet to people who made their living by converting the forest to agriculture, and who needed wood for housing and fuel, "stealing" wood was a totally foreign concept.

Although forest villagers may not have realized the vastness of the state forestry organization's control, they were no doubt aware of the limits on their daily use of the once-accessible environment. The demarcation of forest boundaries with stone posts (palen) and the formation of a formal forest police force were yet to come to the whole forest, but the preliminaries—forest mapping and the recruitment of state forest officials (bosbeambten)—had begun. Punishments and fines were imposed for such forest crimes as firewood collection, charcoal manufacture, wood-cutting to build new homes, and grazing cattle in the forest (often the same animals used to haul timber). Under the pretense of liberating the forest people from oppressive systems of labor obligation, the state effectively evicted people from the source of their subsistence. This indirect labor control, enforced by the ever-growing demands of the state on peasant incomes, was at least as oppressive as the blandong system that had bound the peasants for centuries.

Village Rules of Forest Access

A study of native land rights in all the residencies of Java was sponsored by the Dutch colonial state in the mid-nineteenth century and published in three volumes in 1876, 1880, and 1896. The interviews in sample villages were conducted between 1867 and 1869, that is, before the passage of the 1870 Agrarian Law that changed the nature of land ownership and tenure. For our purposes, it is useful to consider the findings of this study in terms of people's access to the forest for clearing, access to forest products, and the ways in which an individual or a household obtained and maintained control over a piece of cleared land. The following discussion on variations in rights of forest access focuses on the residencies of Tegal and Rembang because the villages discussed in chapters 6 and 7 are located in regions that were formerly part of the jurisdiction of these residencies.

Though the dates of village establishment were not reported specifically in these reports, villages where interviews were conducted were reportedly established from "ancient times" to "after the Java War" (1825-1830). In Rembang Residency, villagers reported that their villages had been founded for a variety of reasons: some from overpopulation of parent villages, some established in the wilderness for religious purposes, some established by refugees from upheaval in other provinces. In Tegal, new settlements had been specifically founded by people fleeing heavy labor service in other residencies or regions.

Both in Tegal and Rembang, where land had been cleared for cultivation and abandoned, the clearer retained rights to that land until it had completely reverted to forest. If newcomers wished to work fallow lands not yet under forest cover, they had first to seek permission from the original clearer (Bergsma 1880:74-76, 182). In such cases, powerful local figures, who would today be called "informal leaders," 17 served as witnesses to claims of tenure rights. In some places, Bergsma reports, a village head or other authority had great control over who cleared land. In others, permission to convert forest to agriculture was needed from a local authority only if the clearer had just come from another settlement or resided elsewhere (ibid., 187-89).

In Tegal, the names of the first forest clearers were remembered in many of the villages surveyed, and these individuals were considered the village founders. Here, clearing began by marking a clearance border and dividing the land among the participants according to their individual agreements with those who granted permission to clear. In some villages, the rights to the land became effective as soon as the land was divided among the clearers and each person marked a share with boundary markers. In other villages, rights would be effective after completion of the clearing; elsewhere, no rights were effective until the lands were completely planted. By the time of the survey, clearance-derived rights included the rights to sell, to pawn, and to rent the land. However, villagers in the Brebes Regency said that these capacities were not original rights, but came only as a result of interaction with Chinese, Arabs, and, of course, Europeans. Clearance rights expired after ten years, on average, if the owner left the village without designating someone to be responsible for the labor and planting obligations inherent in land access (Bergsma 1880:69-76).

In Rembang, forest land was sometimes cleared by groups but the rights to that land were defined on an individual basis—that is, for particular parcels—as were the necessary permissions to clear. As long as the clearer tilled that land, he or she maintained hereditary rights to it (Bergsma 1880:189).

In general, by the time of the survey, many villages were consolidated, corporate entities (but not necessarily closed or self-sufficient) as a result of colonial policy, changed from the vertical structures described by Breman, but by no means isolated (Kano 1982:77). Some 365 of the 808 villages surveyed had some wasteland (woestegrond) 18 that was controlled by the village in several ways. First, outsiders, or nonresidents, could not convert wasteland to agricultural land without permission of the village head. In all of Central Java, this permission for an outsider to cultivate village land was not considered a right of permanent access. In other words, outsiders could access that land only as long as they actively cultivated it: if they moved, abandoned the land, or died, they lost the rights to it. Nor did outsiders have rights of transfer. The land reverted to village jurisdiction once an outsider was gone (ibid.). This analysis, however, never clarifies how an outsider could become a permanent insider—through marriage or long-term residence, or other means.

Second, in theory, outsiders had only limited access to the forest products found in the wastelands. Some villages forbade outsiders all access to forest products; others required payment of a tax or a percentage of the collected produce. In practice, however, it was reported that villagers from neighboring villages were often allowed entry and free access to the products they collected. Resident villagers, on the other hand, could collect and use forest products from wastelands as they wished. There were some exceptions, such as aren trees (used for making sugar) found on wastelands, which were often divided among all the village residents who performed labor services (Kano 1982:78). The nature of rights in aren trees may have derived from the fact that they grew wild—as is the case in some villages of Kalimantan today. Moreover, rights to fruit trees planted on converted agricultural land that had reverted to forest or waste could be retained by the heirs of the planter.

Kano (1982:42) argues that the prevailing Javanese concept of land ownership at the time of this survey can be understood by examining the role of the community in overseeing the allocation of land. In other words, though people exercised control over the land they worked, the community exerted specific controls. The four main roles of the community were:

  1. restricting who could be landowners;
  2. setting up land usage rules, including forbidding the sale or other alienation of land;
  3. recognizing owners only in the case of someone actively cultivating the land;
  4. assuring that the owner did labor services or forfeited his rights in the land. Labor services included heerendiensten to the colonial government, cultuurdiensten in the forced labor services [or blandongdiensten in the teak forest villages], pantjendiensten to the Javanese rulers, and desadiensten to the village (Kano 1982:42).
In sum, a usufruct or use value connotation of rights in the land prevailed, such that the products of the land—whether natural forest products, products of planted trees, or products of forest lands converted to agriculture—were the concern of the community allocating and regulating access. Land and its products could be used for direct subsistence or for accumulating surplus; but land was not capital in its uncleared or "waste" state. Rather, it was a form of insurance against the village's future needs. The insurance was as a potential source of food or income—a means of production. A certain balance was sought between the rights and responsibilities inherent in land control and forest access. The concern in allocating rights to forest or wasteland was the immediate benefit to the user and to the allocator in terms of the labor services and tributes received.

That nearly one-half of the villages surveyed in 1867-69 still had wasteland over which they exercised control indicates that local use rights were significant. As shown below, however, the significance of local rights lay ultimately in their relative power vis-à-vis the increasing power of the centralizing state.


By the time of the survey, two general types of land were found in most villages: communal lands and individually "owned" lands. 19 Importantly, communal land was not a "natural" social institution rooted in Javanese tradition; it was a rarity in both Rembang and Tegal through the English interregnum (Bergsma 1880:182). People in these residencies had always preferred to own their own land, or to work continuously the plots allotted them by whatever right of usufruct or other local tenure the land was subject to (Bergsma 1880:194; The 1969:68-69).

In the second decade of the nineteenth century, Rembang Resident Van Lawick van Pabst ordered that all wet-rice fields in the regency of Rembang be divided equally among those who performed the blandong services; in some villages this partitioning, a reallocation in effect, had already taken place under the English interregnum government when the land rent was introduced. Those who refused to take part in the compulsory forest services were to lose all their rights in wet-rice land. Most of the time, only wet-rice fields (sawah) were divided as communal lands; where these were scarce, the dry-fields (tegalan) could also be partitioned annually or every few years (Bergsma 1880:182-83).

Traditionally, land reverted to the administration of the village or settlement area (so-called wastelands) only when people moved or died without heirs. And, during the period in which the VOC was renting out tracts of forest and forest labor for exploitation of teak, migrations were common. Indeed, in Blora, village "possession" of common lands was due primarily to such migrations. With the increasing demands of the blandong system, more individual landowners fled or voluntarily gave part of their land over to the village communal pool. Wet-rice field owners in parts of Rembang and Blora regencies made as much as 25 percent of their fields available to newcomers (Bergsma 1880:184-85).

Although the number of people with rights in land may have increased through the communalization of land, the partitioning was not equal. For other reasons, the "leveling" process suggested by the potential access to communal lands did not eliminate socioeconomic differentiation. Land quality varied. The recipients of poor-quality fields sometimes abandoned them or left them to revert to secondary forest (Bergsma 1880:183). Often the better-off villagers were assigned the "permanent communal" lands, while the rotating shares went to the poorer people or newcomers (The 1969:68-69). In some districts, cattle owners—already better off than nonowners—were given bigger shares when the land was partitioned. This was sometimes because they lost the cattle forced to haul logs as part of the village corvée labor services. In other places, non-cattle-owners were given the most fertile lands to enable them to save enough to buy cattle. This measure was not entirely altruistic; rather, it was sometimes a step toward alleviation of the burdens of the other cattle owners in the village. The fewer cattle in a village or settlement area, the harder each had to work, and the more likely an animal would be crippled or die from exhaustion (Bergsma 1880:182-85).

When the blandong system was abolished in 1865 and replaced by head taxes, the conversion of forest and the commonly held wastelands to agriculture increased rapidly in Rembang Residency, apparently in spite of the forest laws of 1865 and the state's formal claim on all "unowned" forest lands in 1870 by the Domeinverklaring (Bergsma 1880:193). Trends toward privatization of holdings began to accelerate, largely because of the state's claims on unowned land. The corvée labor that once went with rights in land was no longer required. As a result, one means of gaining access to communal land was eliminated. Reportedly, the heirs of some former sikep (people with rights in land) who had fled from the hardships of compulsory forest labor returned to reclaim their rights in village land. In their absence, the land had been divided among the remaining sikep and numpang (people who worked the land or were dependents, but had no permanent rights in it) to be worked as communal land (Bergsma 1880:193; The 1969:69). 20 Bergsma claimed that their return caused great losses among the poorest and least powerful villagers. However, some returning sikep would have experienced great difficulty in reclaiming their forebears' land rights (Onghokham, personal communication, March 1987), and, except for Bergsma's statement, there is little evidence that shows who actually retained control over the privatized lands. 21

In later decades, the Forest Service began to mark more and more permanent boundaries around forest and agricultural lands, and the police began to patrol and keep people out of the forest. With the nature of their access to the forest increasingly restricted, people began to realize that there were few opportunities to escape to less oppressive circumstances. This knowledge may have provided even greater incentive to landholders to remain in one place and control as much private and "permanent" communal land as they could.


Controlling forest labor was more difficult in reforestation than logging. Planting trees had always imparted rights to the planter; but peasant ownership of teak trees on state lands was not part of the Forest Service plan. When the German and German-trained Dutch foresters established the rotating system for teak harvest in tracts, reforestation became the art of persuading people to plant trees on state land, an art in which local foresters had little training. At the organizational level, managing forest laborers to sustain decent working relations was not emphasized in the same way as managing teak stands; profits, wages, commissions, and bribes came from cutting big trees, not replacing them. Replacing them, indeed, required paying day laborers hired for each separate task of clearing brush, planting, and weeding for the first few years (Cordes 1881: 268). Foresters working in their individual districts were so isolated, and communications so poor, that each developed his own strategies for reforestation. By trial and error, and with varied degrees of success, local foresters tried to replant their regions' clearcut areas (Lugt 1933:44).

In 1873 W. Buurman began experiments with the taungya system, called tumpang sari in Javanese and Indonesian—in the forest district Tegal-Pekalongan. It is not clear, but seems likely, that Buurman learned of the taungya system through British colleagues in Burma, where the system is said to have originated (Menzies 1988). Buurman's method (as it was called in the early years) worked as follows: After a forest area was clearcut, local cultivators were sought to clean the rest of the land and plant teak seeds in measured rows of 1 by 3 meters or 1 by 1 meters. Brush clearing and planting teak were usually done between August and September. Between the rows, the planters could grow agricultural crops such as rice, corn, or tobacco for one or two years. Forest personnel had to supervise the planting of seedlings and make sure that the ground stayed clean and the soil loose. The agricultural crops belonged to the planters; they also received a nominal cash fee. Gradually they were allowed to collect fallen or dead wood, but this was not until some time later. Some land did not yield as many or as good crops as other land; higher fees were paid for the lowest quality plots. On the poorest soils or otherwise degraded lands the system failed, unable to attract labor by even high payments, forcing the forester to resort to other means of replanting (Lugt 1933:44-47).

Buurman's system was reportedly equally successful in Semarang, where he was transferred in 1881. Tumpang sari was not widely known or applied to reforestation in Java until 1883, when Buurman wrote a pamphlet called "De Djaticultuur" (The cultivation of teak), describing the method and the local response. The system apparently succeeded best where socioeconomic circumstances were worst; in the districts of Tegal-Pekalongan and Semarang, where he initiated his plan, land was scarce, and the system worked well. For many of the same reasons that laborers flocked to work in remote forest districts, landless peasants sought access to land through Buurman's system. Access to land, even if temporary, was eagerly sought by peasants where land control systems by the state and village elites were particularly harsh. Reforestation laborers who succeeded in replanting a new forest tract were rewarded with access to other, newly opened forest tracts.

By 1912 some 61 percent of reforestation in Java was done by tumpang sari; by 1928 the system's share accounted for more than 94 percent (Lugt 1933:55). Foresters lauded Buurman's method for its economy and efficiency in replanting the forest; only secondarily was it seen as a means of providing land access to poor villagers. Like the other privileges accorded the forest users of Java, access was limited by strict provisions. Forest farmers could plant their crops for no more than two years; most were allowed only one year's use.

The temporary access policy saw the rise of a new kind of forest-dependent rural proletariat. Whole families of landless or nearly landless laborers followed the harvest of teak parcels, building temporary houses of waste wood and teak bark. They were as dependent on forest labor opportunities as on forest land for their subsistence.

The tumpang sari system extended to the forest lands a new form of interdependent farm-forest relationship. By providing the laborers with enough cultivable land for household reproduction, the foresters were able to keep wages for woodcutting low, and planting wages were essentially nonexistent. Like peasant farming on private land, it subsidized low forest wages and kept the costs of plantation teak production low. Tumpang sari had another advantage for the foresters because they controlled access to reforestation plots. Two methods of controlling forest labor were thus established by the turn of the twentieth century: first, by controlling forest villagers' access to forest products for timber-cutting wages or for other uses and second, by controlling access to forest land for agriculture. On state forest lands in general, peasants were forbidden to convert the forest to permanent agriculture; their only chance for farming forest land was on tumpang sari plots.


The Agrarian Law of 1870 (Domeinverklaring) declared that all land that could not be proven to be owned (individually or communally) by villagers (i.e., land that was not currently under tillage or that had lain fallow for more than three years) was the property of the state. This law provided the basis for the 75-year leases of wastelands to private entrepreneurs for estate development (Boomgaard 1987:37); it also became the basis for the Forest Service's claim to all lands except those under small-scale or plantation agriculture.

Many foresters felt the 1875 forest laws were insufficient, and some gathered to form a team of legal planners to improve the laws. Their revisions, enacted as the forest laws of 1897, established regulations for the internal management of the Dienst van het Boschwezen. The first chief inspector of the Forest Service, Buurman van Vreeden, was installed in July 1897 (Schuitemaker 1950:41; Soepardi 1974a:63). Soon afterward, state forest management was intensified, and small forest districts, called houtvesterij, were formed. Each houtvesterij had to have its own tenyear management plan before it was considered officially planned. Districts controlled by private contractors and having only temporary plans were called bosdistricts. The first houtvesterij formed was Noord Kradenan, followed by Noordwest Wirosari in 1901, Tudor in 1902, Balo in 1903, and Margasari in 1904 (Schuitemaker 1950:41; Soepardi 1974a: 63). The Dutch again sought assistance in their reorganization efforts from the German fathers of forestry: Five experts in forest planning were brought from Germany in 1909 and five more arrived in 1910. The last teak houtvesterij, the plan for which was finished in 1932, was Gunung Kidul in the sultanate of Yogyakarta.

Two other administrative changes marked this period; both moves consolidated the roles of the Forest Service as controllers of land and forest resources. First, the Forest Service was moved to the Department of the Interior and then to the Department of Agriculture, Industry and Trade; moves that symbolized, among other things, its ultimate concerns with land and commodities rather than people. Second, the forest police, formed in 1880 and originally under the Department of the Interior (Binnenlands Bestuur), were made a part of the Forest Service. Partly because the forest police had technical responsibilities besides patrolling the forest for illegal woodcutters and sawyers, the Forest Service had lobbied to have them moved (Zwart 1936:275). Nevertheless, the various police forces were expected to cooperate in monitoring rural people's forest activities. The forest police were authorized to catch "forest criminals," but were not authorized to convict and punish them; for this, they needed the assistance of other police and the justice department (Soepardi 1974b:25).

Subsequent forest ordinances were passed in 1913, 1927, 1928, 1931, and 1934, 22 but after 1927 only minor changes were made, and the 1927 laws are still in effect today. The 1927 laws define the state forest lands (kawasan hutan negara) of Java and Madura as follows:

  1. lands which are owned by the state, to which other people or parties have no right or control, and on which grow:
    1. naturally regenerated woody species and bamboo, 23
    2. woody species planted by the Forest Service,
    3. woody species not planted by the Forest Service but planted by the state and turned over to the Forest Service for management,
    4. woody species planted by order of the state/government,
    5. nonwoody species planted by the Forest Service;

  2. all lands surrounding the lands stated in paragraph (a) on which woody plants do not grow; as long as those lands are not used for other purposes outside the jurisdiction of the Forest Service;
  3. all land reserved by the state for maintaining or extending the forest;
  4. all land included in the [state] forest lands when the forest boundaries were established.
These same ordinances define teak forests as land or land parcels:

  1. on all or part of which teak trees grow;
  2. which have been designated by the state for the expansion of the teak forest, whether that land is currently planted in trees or not.
The drive to intensify management continued until the start of World War II. Intensification meant research and application of technical aspects of forestry, particularly for growing teak. In 1913 the first Forest Experiment Station was established; its purpose was to determine how to extract the maximum timber value from the scientific regulation of the forest districts. Not until 1927 were hydrological, climatological, and very broad social welfare aspects of upland or watershed forests written into law. Previously, the formal function of the Forest Service had been simply to produce revenues for the state from teak (Schuitemaker 1950:42-43). While the indirect values of the forest were discussed in the literature, and the "Junglewoods Forest Service" (Dienst der Wildhoutbosschen) 24 was established with these principles in mind, the early framers of forest regulation had not included them in formal forest law.

Members of the Forest Service began in 1925 to seek increased autonomy and authority for the forest district heads (Administrateur). They also pushed for intensive planning in the nonteak forests. This led to an administrative split of the service into two self-supporting units: the entirely commercial "Teak Enterprise" (Djatibedrijf) and the previously mentioned Junglewoods Forest Service. After eight years (1930-1938) and substantial debate in the forestry literature, an advisory commission was formed and a plan constructed for a united service to manage all state forest lands. The primary objection had been to the difficulty of the state's maintaining the low-value protection forests without the revenue from the teak forests. Compounding the problem, the Djatibedrijf's formation coincided with another major world economic depression, and it was unable to sell its teak profitably. The reuniting of the two services as a single Dienst der Bosschen op Java en Madura (Departemen Kehutanan 1986, I:115) marked the end of all forest exploitation by private companies and the vesting of full authority for the production and sale of unprocessed timber products in the state (Schuitemaker 1950:44).


As conservation ideologies were used to justify Forest Service control of the uplands, the same notions cloaked the main impetus behind forest exploitation and the Forest Service—the extraction of surplus for the state. While the hydrological functions of montane forests could be scientifically demonstrated, the evolving policy of planting teak everywhere the environment could sustain it could not be defended on the basis of a conservation ideology alone. Teak was to replace nonteak forest species even on land that was very well-suited to agriculture, where other climatic and soil conditions were conducive to its vigorous growth. 25 This policy was meant explicitly to increase future state revenues. As a result, people lost access to the natural forest products when teak plantations replaced them. Moreover, the introduction of teak sometimes resulted in reduced water supplies on adjacent village lands (Peluso 1985). Nevertheless, to many nineteenth-century Europeans the ideology of forest conservation justified state control of key forest lands and masked the reality of production forestry in Java.

By 1870, with the Domeinverklaring, the Dutch had completed their shift in status from that of "tenants," with leased rights to forest products and labor, to "landlords" who controlled forest lands and forest access, thus reshaping the entire nature of forest access control. The villagers lost forever their free access to the forest, the potential autonomy of forest settlements, and important subsistence options. For the poorest, the loss of access to the forest was the loss of a last resort. Squeezed onto the lands designated village or agricultural lands, with little opportunity to change one's status—and little inclination on the part of the landowners to do so anymore—the Javanese lost a certain fluidity in their rural social structure. Forest villagers accepted very reluctantly many of the structural constraints imposed upon them, resisting the foresters and the colonial forest policy in a variety of ways.


Resistance to forest policy changes occurred at all the stages in forest history discussed so far: the precolonial, early colonial, and late colonial periods. Onghokham (1975:214-15) identifies three general sorts of Javanese peasant resistance: "long-term expressions of discontent such as migrations, actions against plantations, increases in the crime rate, Ratu Adil or messianic movements; explosions of sudden rebellion; and the existence and rise of special sects with different social and religious views of society." All of these were found in forest contexts.

Movements violent and nonviolent, reactions to specific policies or circumstances, did not always involve the entire society but represented crystallizations of broad-based discontent with the structural changes affecting everyday life. The food shortages and famines of the nineteenth century resulted in migrations, movements, and religious revivals all over the island. New taxes and, in some places, new forms of forced labor also stimulated resistance (Onghokham 1975:224-26). The return of the Just King (Ratu Adil), who would relieve everyone of the unfair impositions of outsiders, featured in many of these resistance movements, just as it had in precolonial times (Sartono 1972:75, 94-98).

During the precolonial period, one form of passive resistance was collusion among rural people to avoid reporting new forest clearances and thus to avoid the taxes or tribute (Adas 1981:225). These strategies were not equally advantageous to all rural classes (ibid., 226). People with rights in the land, the elites in the rural social order, had the most to gain by avoiding the impositions of royal elites or competing authorities. Nonreporting of newly converted land saved them tribute payments and labor services for their patrons.

In the service of the VOC, Kalang woodcutters had resisted the waning of their autonomy and the increase in external controls imposed on them by Javanese kings and their Dutch allies. Work stoppages and periodic flight into the forest had been modes of resistance to external pressures before the state administrative machine grew stronger. As mentioned in chapter 2, some frustrated Kalangs rebelled by storming a Dutch fort and killing several Dutch administrators. Over the long term, however, Kalang efforts to resist the colonial state failed. Because they faded into virtual oblivion (out of the regulatory discourse as a distinct group and eventually out of local recognition in the forest) 26 it is difficult to know whether their roles as forest "thieves" and "bandits" were not more significant than the blurred historical record will permit us to see.

The loss of mobility and relative autonomy, the hardships of household reproduction caused by the bounding of forest lands and the heavy taxation of the peasantry, and the social processes of resource concentration by elites at the village level resulted in a decline of rural welfare. As The (1967:306) pointed out: "Before long, welfare became a far less conspicuous phenomenon than widespread social malaise in the countryside, a malaise heightened by progressive rural indebtedness in a time of adversity. Not unexpectedly, agrarian unrest on Java, quiescent for some time, gained in intensity after the turn of the century (as testified by the Samin movement and other forms of unrest)."

The Samin movement has been subject to numerous analyses and a complete review of these is not necessary here. 27 However, I will discuss briefly how the Samin movement and other forms of resistance were reactions at least in part to the controls on forest access embedded in the institutional structures, ideologies, laws, and actions of the colonial state by the end of the nineteenth century.

The Samin Movement

When Surontiko Samin began talking to people in approximately 1890, his neighbors in Randublatung and other teak forest villages were ready to listen. Life in the teak forests had become rather strange. More and more, the Dutch were changing the structures of everyday life, in the process causing—whether unintentionally or without concern—a great deal of hardship and misery for the peasants, particularly landowners, of the teak forest.

State forest police had been patrolling for ten years, trying to restrict people from using the nature created by God for everyone. These police spoke of laws about rights to forest land and teak trees and punished people for using them without permission. But these laws were the laws of men—not God. Men—foresters—were putting posts in the ground to mark where the people's land ended and forest lands began. Men forbade access to wood.

Also strange were the new ways in which services were to be rendered. Forest laborers for the state were paid in wages. Labor services for the village head were being replaced by cash collected from the villagers. By the beginning of the twentieth century, farmers even had to pay taxes on things besides land, such as owning or slaughtering livestock, the water used to irrigate their crops, and personal matters such as marriage and divorce. Collecting fuelwood in the forest required the purchase of tickets from these forest police or forest mandors (mandor means labor foreman; some doubled as police). In some places even the salaries of the forest police had to be paid by the villagers denied access. Land was set aside for their salaries and the salaries of teachers or other outsiders. In addition, while land was being taken away from the common people, village officials in some parts of the teak forest had very extensive land-holdings, sometimes 13, 20, 25 bau of land—where average holdings amounted to no more than one-half or one-third of a bau.

The Dutch claimed to be trying to help the villagers, but they imposed "welfare" programs without informing them. The will of the people was rarely, if ever, seriously taken into account. For example, one communally oriented program imposed by the government was to stall cattle together in village stalls. People did not want such a program, they felt it was bad for their cattle, and did not want to trust the cattle to keepers. 28 At the same time, a big irrigation project planned for the Solo River Valley to improve agricultural conditions in the teak forest was canceled. Wouldn't this have improved the villagers' situation? 29

As the century turned, many people were ready to hear what Samin had to say. By 1907 some 3,000 families were following Samin's teachings as taught by his sons-in-law. Most of his early followers were land-owning peasants. Many of them were descended from the village founders, the forest clearers. Rather than act violently, they personalized the issue with the official representatives of the Forest Service. They refused to speak to the foresters—or to any officials, for that matter—in krama, the traditional language of deference. When they spoke in ngoko, the familiar form of Javanese, their literal interpretations did not mean the same things that the officials meant when they spoke. Saminists believed that their roles as the transformers of nature into food, the essence of life, gave them equal status to those claiming rights to rule and control forest access. In fact, the state in the name of which these officials acted meant little to the Saminists. The state had not created the wind, water, earth, and wood; long ago the peasant had tapped and transformed them all.

The actions of the Saminists represented a primarily nonviolent reaction to the state's violations of prevailing peasant values; these values centered on access to the forest and agriculture, the preferred livelihood strategy. 30 The movement was born and remained in the heartland of the teak zone of Java, where the Forest Service was also born and where the first boundaries and maps of state forest lands were made. Seeing the forest officials as an obstruction of their inherent right to forest wood and forest land, the Saminists distrusted them. Foresters then and now have believed the movement was directed against them and their control of the forests. No government body controlled wind and water in the way that access to wood and the forest lands were controlled by the Forest Service. Yet the Saminists were not alone in their contempt for external control of their forest; the Saminist movement was rooted in many Javanese peasant traditions.

Samin's followers differed in the types or forms of resistance they practiced. They are most known for speaking in "riddles" or taking a literal interpretation of anything said, but this tactic was neither used everywhere, nor toward everyone. Foresters and other officials were key targets. Some Saminists lay down on their land when the Dutch surveyors came to reclassify communal and salary lands, crying out, "Kanggo" (I own it). Others cut teak despite Dutch efforts to guard the forest. They refused to pay taxes, refused to pay fines, refused to accept wages, refused to leave rented or communal land when their leases expired, refused to participate in the rituals of village reciprocity and the ritual feasts (slametan) that accompanied them. Some piled stones in the roads they had been ordered to build. The variation in forms of resistance nevertheless expressed a common discontent with the changes in society.

The Saminists were the most visible of rural protesters in the teak forest during this period. 31 Not until about 1905, as the movement gathered steam, did the Dutch begin to worry. The state was afraid of the ways Saminists expressed discontent—their threats to Dutch claims on authority. The Saminists' refusal to pay taxes and perform village services threatened the colonial coffers, not to mention the preferred orderliness of colonial society. Wherever the Dutch believed the ideas of the Saminists were spreading, they exiled the "leaders" and confiscated protesters' land and other possessions to sell and pay their debts.

What is not explained sufficiently by the literature on the Saminist movement is the reaction of those who chose not to join the Saminists, adopt their religion, or isolate themselves from the rest of society. Many more people than just the Saminists needed and felt justified in using the wood of the surrounding forests. As Dove (1984) points out, the villagers and foresters had radically different belief systems, and also divergent reasons for valuing the forest.

While the Saminists drew together and restricted their interactions with the broader village community, some non-Saminists, particularly village leaders, depicted this withdrawal from society as a betrayal of other village values and norms. For example, when Saminists refused to perform community duties, the village leaders took away simple community rights such as rights to walk on public roads or to work communal lands (Onghokham 1964:40-44). In the later waves of the movement, after 1915, some villages ostracized members who professed Saminism. Such actions may have been as much self-protective as aggressive. While all villagers may have agreed with the economic complaints of the Saminists and felt the strong psychological pressures of the Dutch-imposed social changes (Anderson 1975), many did not agree with the means employed by the Saminists to resist oppressive colonial policies; or perhaps they were simply afraid. Samin and his followers took one path to resisting the changes in the traditional material values of the peasantry; other peasants sought ways to enrich themselves within the new system; still others simply accepted the new circumstances but were demoralized.

The Saminist slogan "the sikep people 32 know what they own" was gibberish to the Dutch, who had known themselves to be "owners" of the forest lands and its trees for decades. Their deals to take possession or control of these lands and the "mercantile squadrons" populating them had been made with sultans, regents, traders, and other accessible Javanese. The Dutch had not bothered to deal with the actual clearers of the forest or the tillers of the land; they did not consider the users' rights. They had their treaties, their laws, and—when needed—their armies to back up their forest claims.

What, after all, were people fighting to retain? For many people in forest communities, their actual use of the forest changed much less than did their legal access. The poorest lost the mobility that had once been something of a weapon against the rich or powerful among them. Whatever their motives, all rural groups continued to take and use teak and other wood from the forest, as indicated in the statistics on forest theft: in 1905 some 45,000 people were arrested for forest crimes, mostly wood theft (Benda and Castles 1969). Villagers could not live without the forest.

In this respect, the Saminist movement can be used to symbolize a longstanding battle over villagers' rights of forest access and foresters' interpretations of their motives. Dutch actions to exile Samin and some of his key followers as subversive elements failed to destroy the movement: even today a few Saminist communities are found in the heart of the teak forest. The government sent an assistant resident in 1918 to report on the Saminist situation and to make recommendations for ameliorating their relations with the government. Perhaps most interesting about the assistant resident's report are his comments on the poor communication between foresters and Saminist communities. Such communication gaps must have long existed between insiders and outsiders wanting different things from the forest. Some sixty-six years later, researchers for the Indonesian State Forestry Corporation would identify the same persistent problems and make recommendations to improve the relations between foresters and forest villagers (Jasper 1918; SFT 1985).


By 1927 the laws and procedures differentiating wood that might belong to the people and wood that belonged to the state were clearly written. All mature teak trees growing on state lands were the property of the state. The state also had the right to tax any mature teak trees sold or transported from private property. Villagers could purchase thinning wood, but each piece, like other classes of government teak logs and boards, had to be marked with a Forest Service stamp. Wood without this stamp was assumed to be stolen. This was particularly irksome when these laws were first implemented because old wood was not marked; nor would the government stamp remain clear if whole logs were purchased—with the stamp across the round bottom—and then sawn into boards. Not infrequently a house standing two or three years or longer was demolished, the inhabitants punished, and the wood confiscated (Meyier 1903:713).

The forest police began patrolling the teak forests in 1880. With 172 mantri polities and their assistants, boswachters, the police were the most numerous officials in the forestry hierarchy, and the only level in that hierarchy composed of Javanese. 33

Though the most numerous, there still were not many of them; it was important, therefore, that they show off their power and authority. The villagers hated the police and their malicious searching for wood. Forest police entered village houses without notice. They looked for standing wood (wood already used in construction) and concealed pieces such as door frames, roofing ribs, boards, and posts that had been "clandestinely obtained" (Meyier 1903:711). Some villagers said that the possession of a piece of teak was punished almost as severely as possession of illegal opium. 34 Also protecting a state monopoly on the sale of a valuable product, the despised opium police could use as evidence remnants of the smell, taste, color, or ashes of the substance found on anyone but the official opium farmer or his agents. Similarly, a forest guard could use the smell of teakwood—particularly aromatic when freshly cut—as evidence of punishable theft (ibid., 712). Forest guards in teak districts today are still reputed to be able to smell freshly cut teak, and to use this skill to find hidden teak.

Some administrators attributed the high rates of theft to teak's costliness, driving people to steal it for their own use and for illicit sale (Deboschpolitie op Java under het binnenlands bestuur 1923:164). Still, the solution proposed was the increase of policing rather than lowering prices or making teak accessible to the people. Some forest administrators and other observers did not approve of such severe restrictions on local people's access to the forest or of the methods employed by the forest police (see, for example, Meyier 1903, Beck 1923, and Becking 1926). However, these liberal attitudes were little match for the increasingly efficient state machine for controlling access to its most valuable forest products.

The interests of the Forest Service and the people were clearly in direct opposition. The latter's use of forest lands for grazing, wood collecting, and—when possible or necessary—as supplemental agricultural fields, was a constant source of conflict between the two sides (Soepardi 1974b:25). By the twentieth century, shipbuilding had ceased to be the primary state use for Java's teak, but luxury wood exports were playing an increasing role in providing state revenue. In 1877, for example, only 860 cubic meters of teak were exported; this represented 1 percent of the total annual cut. Although fluctuating with world political-economic trends over the next forty years (various recessions, trade slowdowns, and World War I), the highest percentage of the annual cut for this period was exported in 1906: some 30 percent, or 65,000 cubic meters (Kerbert 1919:629, 647).

Some scholars and foresters of the time questioned whether forest products generated actual revenues for the government. One critic of the system researched the net profits from forest exploitation in 1903 and found them of little significance because such high production and transport costs were incurred. Even his figures showing the losses incurred in forest exploitation took no account of the wood lost through theft or damage; nor did they indicate the collective individual losses incurred by the villagers whose own subsistence or small-scale commercial enterprises—such as cattle raising, fish breeding, sawmills, wood trade, and construction—were either restricted or forbidden (Meyier 1903:714-15). Other observers questioned the economic rationality of maintaining good agricultural land under teak—a question that foreshadowed the findings (for social welfare as well as economic reasons) of a policy research group some eighty-five years later (de Graaf 1899:914; GOI/IIED 1985b:36-37).

Other hardwoods and bamboo did not grow as abundantly in teak regions as in the rest of Java; thus other types of building materials were not available to most teak forest villagers (Becking 1926:906). Several failed attempts to ameliorate this problem were made, largely because of the limits the Forest Service placed on its own role in the redistribution. For example, in 1918, a regulation for the supply of wood at cost to the "natives" was passed. One forester, Becking, wrote an article encouraging other forest district officers to sell local people teak cut in the course of forest thinning (he had already begun such a program in his district) for use in door, window, and house frames. He also supported the exploitation of woods other than teak for the people and gave preference to the poorest people. The difficulty came in the actual distribution of the wood, which was to be carried out by the village heads. Not a single log was sold under this system, because of conflicts about recipient eligibility and the excessive administrative procedures involved (Becking 1926:906-8). Subsequently, in the 1920s, government timber yards stocked with thinning wood were set up near the big cities to sell timber to local people (Westra 1933:271). However, the poorest people were still unable to purchase this wood because they lacked access to credit and cash was in short supply (Everts 1933:269). Moreover, other government and private businesses were willing to pay the Forest Service's price. The tobacco industry, in particular, became a major customer, rebuilding all its tobacco sheds out of teakwood (Becking 1926:907).

Part of the problem lay in the state's conflicting goals. The political ideology of the period called for the government to provide for people's welfare while making profits at the same time. Welfare programs were designed so the local people paid for any costs through taxes levied on a variety of previously untaxed activities or possessions. But villagers were economically incapable of financing welfare programs, nor was it clear that they wanted such programs, particularly under the terms set by the Dutch government. For example, the Forest Service wanted not only to sell thinning wood to the villagers, it also required the purchase of forest entry permits to collect firewood. People's firewood collection was sometimes limited to two days a week. In some districts, woodcutters were not paid in cash, but with tickets allowing them to collect a certain quantity of waste products from the cut-over forest. Meanwhile, the service sold teak pieces too small for timber classification, and by 1940 industrial-size firewood was the number two revenue-earner for the Forest Service, far exceeding the profits from nonteak timber sales (Schuitemaker 1950:57). The Forest Service rationalized these practices by claiming that most people sold the firewood rather than using it (van der Laan 1933:301). This indicated that people's subsistence uses of the forest could be condoned but their access for commercial purposes was not. The actual effect of these welfare policies was the creation of a labor reserve with very limited legal means of acquiring the cash they needed to subsist.

Critiques of government policy on forest exploitation and wood distribution were common during the 1930s, when the world depression slashed wood exports, particularly luxury woods such as teak. Despite the economic constraints, forest cutting continued. In 1931, 1932, and 1933 only 15,000, 12,000, and 9,000 cubic meters (respectively) were exported, of the approximate annual timber production of 220,000 cubic meters (De nieuwe houtvervreemdingspolitiek 1935:74). The total cut, though below the estimated potential cut of 400,000 cubic meters, was significant, given the depressed economy and market (ibid., 77). Some foresters were proud of the quantities cut in spite of the depression. They boasted that employment rates in forestry remained up (ignoring the fact that wages dropped with the prices), saving the government from providing welfare work for the unemployed. Official reports claimed that demoralization among laborers was low, even though they were forced to accept sharply deflated wages. In the meantime, other state enterprises actually profited from the circumstances. The railways, for example, had inexpensive fuel to run on (van der Laan 1933:293).

Through the 1920s and 1930s the Forest Service continued buying up what it called "critical" land, that is, land in watersheds, with steep slopes, or highly eroded land. Where local environmental circumstances permitted, nonteak land was replanted in teak. Land exchanges were made to consolidate the forest lands; where private individuals were working land enclosed by forest, efforts were made to exchange suitable plots of government land outside the forest. These complicated exchanges often did not satisfy all involved parties; disputes over the relative fertility, size, and location of exchanged lands were frequent (Benda and Castles 1969:223). 35 By 1940, on the eve of the Japanese occupation, the Dutch Colonial Forest Service had brought some 3,057,200 hectares of Java's land under its control (Dienst van het Boschwezen in Indonesie 1948).


As we have seen, prior to the arrival of the VOC, there was a more tenable balance of access to the forest for local people and outsiders with claims on the forest—if for no other reason than that there was a great deal more forest for everyone to use. Precolonial enforcement of restricted forest access was also more difficult, and not necessarily in the interest of precolonial rulers. After the arrival of the VOC, cutting of teak timber intensified, but villagers' access for subsistence was minimally affected, while nonteak forests were virtually ignored by the teak-logging entrepreneurs.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a scientific concept of sustainable forest management by the state—for its own profit—began to influence the managers of Java's forests at the same time that this concept was taking hold in other countries. The Forest Service, begun as a production enterprise, extended its custodial role by expanding police activities and formalizing an emerging ideology of conservation by the state. The 1927 forestry laws were the culmination of half a century's trial and error. They represent the entrenchment of an ideology of state legitimacy to control one-fourth the land area of Java.

The means of labor control evolved from the seventeenth to the twentieth century: from the lease of teak forest harvest rights and the labor of teak forest inhabitants, to forced deliveries, to the exchange of labor for land rent remittances, to increased taxation and wage labor in the forest. By the mid-twentieth century, villagers could no longer flee hardship to remote sections of the forest—what remained that was remote? Villagers resorted to furtive means of acquiring building and cooking materials; some accepted small plots of reforestation land for temporary agriculture. Rural agriculturalists who labored in the forest subsidized the state's investment in forestry by producing their own food either on their own lands or on these temporarily accessible reforestation plots.

Forestry policies took away forest villagers' means of helping themselves; they often made life harder. Both the blandongdiensten and its successor, the "free" labor system, had placed onerous obligations on the people. Reforestation by tumpang sari was developed first for its cost-effectiveness and only incidentally for its minimal, and temporary, welfare-improving potential.

Nevertheless, in the design of reforestation schemes from the turn of the century until the end of the Dutch colonial era, the ideology and rhetoric of "mutual benefit" began to emerge in Dutch forestry literature. By the 1930s, when tumpang sari had become a regular part of reforestation, the Forest Service had begun to speak already of its generosity in "lending" land to forest peasants to grow agricultural crops for a year, or sometimes two. The state assumed the role of landlord and land administrator formerly played only by local patrons and Javanese nobility. While the benefits of land and species monopoly accrued to the state, forest villagers increasingly lost legal access to forest land and species. Nevertheless, the notion that state control of forest land and forest products was for the sake of the greater good would pervade Indonesian forestry policy long after the Dutch had left.

The closing of the peasants' last frontier and the establishment of a powerful structure of control contributed to the contempt in which the peasantry held state officials, particularly foresters. One form of this contempt was manifested in the Samin movement, but the Saminists were not the only ones who stole wood from government teak forests. The Saminists did not put curses on officials or bar forest police from entering their villages or cemeteries. Such things were done by other peasants. To this day, such cursed spots are found throughout the forest villages of Java and forest officials fear to enter them—even though they are of a different race and nationality than those against whom the curses were originally directed. Tragic tales abound of those who ignore the warnings (see chapter 7) and suffer the consequences.

It has been argued that the same process of changing indigenous social structure by national-colonial policy that took place in nineteenth-century Java is being extended to the rest of Indonesia today (Breman 1980:10; Dove 1984, 1985). Indonesians living in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Irian, Sulawesi, and other islands complain about the "Javanization" of their political structures, cultures, and daily lives. This needs to be understood as a complex phenomenon. Besides the Javanese domination of government and Javanese colonization of other ethnic groups' land, what is also happening is the extension of structures and ideologies developed by the Dutch to reorganize rural Javanese life. It is not the precolonial Javanese social structure composed of vertically organized, fluid social relations that is being pushed on the Outer Islands. This Dutch legacy affecting contemporary Javanization is as much a residue of the Dutch colonial project in Java as were "traditional," closed, corporate Javanese villages.

While most peasant resistance to Dutch colonial forest policy took the form of avoidance, the chaos of life during the Japanese occupation spurred violent confrontations within the forest. Forests, forestry, and forest use were affected dramatically in the midst and the wake of the Japanese occupation. Various uprisings in forest areas occurred concurrent with and subsequent to Indonesian independence. Although tinged with a new nationalism, the postwar Indonesian Forest Service was reconstituted in the Dutch-German mold still familiar, normal, and scientific to the forestry establishment.


Note 1: The path the Dutch followed was not much different than that taken by the British in India (Guha 1985, 1990) and others in Southeast Asia who tried various logging methods and the management ideas of European and Chinese entrepreneurs. See Mekvichai 1988 and Hafner 1990 on Thailand; Adas 1981 on Burma.  Back.

Note 2: Although the Dutch lost the Anglo-Dutch War, the English returned their colonies to them in 1816; see Vlekke 1960:270-71.  Back.

Note 3: Some of the ideas implemented by Daendels had been suggested earlier by van Hogendorp, but had not been implmented at the time (Furnivall 1944:65).  Back.

Note 4: This rule was alternately enacted and rejected over the next sixty years; in the forest laws of 1865, villagers' access to sawlogs was eliminated.  Back.

Note 5: The Cultivation System was introduced by Governor-General van den Bosch and in effect in Java from 1830 to 1870. The system—or systems, as they varied greatly by region and by crop, were forms of organizing the production of agricultural crops for the state. While in some locales peasants and factory laborers producing export crops were to be paid, in others it was often a system of compulsory labor for state enterprise. The state profited greatly from the Cultivation System(s) in the early years but its implementation had long and depressing consequences for the people's welfare and development in many regions. In other regions, the peasants actually profited from the system. On the regional aspects of the Cultivation System and its effects, see Vlekke 1960:288-96; Fasseur 1975; Breman 1980; and Elson 1984.  Back.

Note 6: Ordonnantie van 10 September 1865, Staatsblad no. 96: Reglement voor het beheer en de exploitatie der houtbosschen van de Lande op Java en Madura.  Back.

Note 7: Daendels's directives were issued September 4, 1810, and February 5, 1811. To this day, a similar regulation for the taxation of privately grown and marketed teak trees is enforced by the State Forestry Corporation.  Back.

Note 8: Guha (1985) describes the same perspective and the same time frame for the rise of scientific forestry in India.  Back.

Note 9: These Germans came from the hertog of Nassau (Koloniaal Verslag 1849:137).  Back.

Note 10: The Dutch in Java were not the only ones turning to Germany for education in the relatively newly formulated "science" of forestry. Aspiring foresters from the other Dutch and English colonial services, and from free nations such as Sweden, Norway, Russia, and Japan, were sent to German forestry schools. German foresters migrated to other countries to develop principles of forest management and to cement these principles into the legal structures of their adopted states (Fernow 1911:176, 262, 273-74, 295, 310, 316-17, 332, 355, 378, 394, 450, 486).  Back.

Note 11: Besluit 7 July 1875, Indies Staatsblad no. 126.  Back.

Note 12: Besluit 10 September 1874, Staatsblad no. 214.  Back.

Note 13: The work period coincided with the usual months of the dry monsoon, that is, April through September or October.  Back.

Note 14: Staatsblad no. 189, 1864, increased the wages of group leaders to 20 cents and cutters to 12 cents; for other changes in wages, see Cordes 1881:216.  Back.

Note 15: The allotments were 1 1/4 catties of rice and Γ 1/4 catty of salt.  Back.

Note 16: Hence, Boomgaard's estimates of the number of corvée laborers employed under Daendels probably also fall short of the actual number of people involved in the blandong system in the course of a year.  Back.

Note 17: These leaders were likely called jago, literally, "rooster" or "cock," which, loosely translated, means "tough guy."  Back.

Note 18: Woestegrond referred to agricultural land long abandoned to fallow by people who moved or died without heirs.  Back.

Note 19: There were some exceptions, instances in which all land was either privately or communally owned; see Bergsma 1880:186.  Back.

Note 20: In nonforest villages, communal lands were worked only by the landowning families who owed tribute or taxes (sikeps) (Onghokham 1964:5). Because numpangs in forest villages under the blandong system paid taxes with their labor, they were given access to the communal lands.  Back.

Note 21: It is not known whether there were traditional (adat) means by which landowners who had forfeited their private rights to land could reclaim them.  Back.

Note 22: Staatsbladen nos. 495, 221, 65, 168, and 63, respectively (Soepardi 1974a:52).  Back.

Note 23: Bamboo is not considered "woody."  Back.

Note 24: All woods found in Indonesia that were not teak were called "jungle woods." Today the SFC classifies forests as "teak" (jati) or "nonteak" (bukan jati).  Back.

Note 25: One SFC argument for maintaining certain lands under teak is its vigor under environmental conditions that are not particularly good for agriculture.  Back.

Note 26: At least one community of Kalangs remained distinct until recently—a group who lived in Kota Gede, south of the Yogyakarta kraton. These Kalangs, however, had been palace artisans, wood carvers, and urban dwellers, attached to the palace and disengaged from the forest proper for centuries.  Back.

Note 27: See Jasper 1918; Onghokham 1964, 1975; The 1968a, 1968b, 1969; Benda and Castles 1969. King (1973) offers a theoretical framework for the analysis of the Samin movement and other forms of peasant unrest in nineteenth-century Java. The following discussion is drawn from these authors.  Back.

Note 28: This attitude prevails in the teak forest today among non-Saminists and confounds efforts to encourage cattle stalling.  Back.

Note 29: The Dutch said the irrigation project was too expensive at the time, but the minister of colonies later said that the decision to suspend it had made Rembang Residency the most backward region of Java.  Back.

Note 30: Differences in Saminist belief from the generally accepted abangan peasant tradition of Java were clear: Saminists did not believe in the plethora of spirits or perform the rituals of what might be called the abangan mainstream. However, their emphasis on the maintenance of simple life-styles and values, respect of the land and people's role in tilling it, and on the family were reminiscent of abangan peasant values.  Back.

Note 31: Later, in the same region as the Saminist movement, other forms of protest, resistance, or organized opposition arose against the Forest Service's constraints imposed on the heavily burdened peasants—notably the Sarekat Islam (SI) movement and the young Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). On the formation of Sarekat Islam, see Takashi Shiraishi 1989; on the early Communist Party in Java, see McVey 1965.  Back.

Note 32: Wong sikep, meaning "those who embrace" was what the Saminists called themselves. Sikep was also used in reference to a person who had the kind of rights in land accompanied by corvée labor, including the founders of a village who first cleared the forest for agriculture (Onghokham 1975).  Back.

Note 33: All forest district heads (houtvesters), assistant district heads, and forest rangers (opzieners) were Dutch.  Back.

Note 34: Opium was legal in the Dutch East Indies at this time, but the government had a monopoly on it. The sale of opium was restricted to the opium farmers who bought the "farms" for particular regions at government auctions. The government not only punished unauthorized sellers but also sought illegal buyers of the drug. Seeking out these "criminals" was the task of the notorious and intensely hated opium police. It was not uncommon to punish illegal possession by public whipping (Rush 1983:53-64).  Back.

Note 35: Some forest cultivators managed to resist the most persistent of landswapping forest officials and today their heirs are still cultivating these forest enclaves.  Back.