Perspectives

Marsiti: The Trailblazer for Nature and the Community

Marsiti
Marsiti A Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung woman who actively protects Wungun Forest through a forest patrol team. © YKAN

Wungun Forest is our beloved; Wungun is our life.

Just like how the Kelay River flows life to the Dayak Mapnan community at Long Duhung Village, Berau Regency, East Kalimantan, Marsiti also moves the life of her community as one of the innovations trailblazers within her people. A woman of few words, Marsiti inspired others to be involved in innovations to protect and conserve nature. Her tenacity fueled the spirit in people’s hearts, and she became a part of the innovator pioneers in the Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung indigenous community.

A Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung woman who actively protects Wungun Forest through a forest patrol team.
Marsiti A Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung woman who actively protects Wungun Forest through a forest patrol team. © Mustofa Ali

As the Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community still holds to their tradition as hunters and gatherers, Wungun Forest is the heart of the community’s life. Aside from providing the community with natural resources for their daily lives, this 1,400 ha protected forest is also the root of Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung culture. Wungun Forest is a part of the Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community’s journey and history. It is a sacred place and the resting location of the community’s ancestors.

Wungun Forest fulfills the physical and spiritual needs of the Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community. Its rich natural resources provide them with livelihood sources and natural apothecary.
Medicine from Nature Wungun Forest fulfills the physical and spiritual needs of the Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community. Its rich natural resources provide them with livelihood sources and natural apothecary. © Maya Patriani

On those accounts, protecting and conserving Wungun Forest is essential for the Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community. To support those commitments, Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN) provided facilitation for forest protection and natural resource management efforts such as forest patrol, agroforestry (rubber and vegetables), and farming. These supports were hoped to be able to increase the community’s economy and protect the forest from illegal hunting, encroachment, and land openings.

Marsiti and Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community was learning a simple administration practice with YKAN.
Actively Improving Capacities Marsiti and Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community was learning a simple administration practice with YKAN. © Maya Patriani

Like other Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community members, Marsiti is constantly active in various conservation efforts of Wungun Forest. Her quiet demeanor does not dampen her spirit to innovate in protecting nature and increasing the community's living standards like agroforestry. Sustainable agroforestry is one of the innovations in sustainable forest management. For a hunter and gatherer community, agroforestry is not a common practice in the Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community. Hence, people usually choose to observe the progress and results of agroforestry before trying it. However, Marsiti decided to try and get involved in agroforestry immediately.

Kegiatan wanatani masyarakat berpotensi menjaga lingkungan sekaligus menaikkan ekonomi komunitas.
Wanatani Berkah Bersama Kegiatan wanatani masyarakat berpotensi menjaga lingkungan sekaligus menaikkan ekonomi komunitas. © Maya Patriani

As a single mother of two, Marsiti is determined to ensure the continuation of her children and the community’s young generation’s education. Thus, she is very eager to develop the farm to increase the community’s economy. When the community farm, including her private farm, was plagued by mites and slowly withered, Marsiti suggested that the village government use the village budget to take care of the farms and hold training for rubber tapping. According to Marsiti, if they managed the rubber farm successfully, then Wungun Forest would be protected, and the young generation of Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung would be able to continue their education.

Marsiti and Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community collectively opened a cornfield for feeding corn, sweet corn, and local corn.
Sustainable Agroforestry Marsiti and Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community collectively opened a cornfield for feeding corn, sweet corn, and local corn. © Maya Patriani

Marsiti is also always full of spirit in joining the forest patrol. In 2014, Long Duhung Village formed a forest patrol team or environment monitoring team. Also known as tingetgan skin gu blom in the local language, this team is responsible for monitoring the community's internal commitment to rotational farming and looking out for illegal hunting and forest encroachment. They patrol six times a year. In each patrol session, six patrol team members would fill out a monitoring report form. This environment monitoring team would also follow up on the community members' reports when they discovered violations, such as forest encroachment. 

While the men of Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung were patrolling the forest, the women of Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung were capturing fishes in Blu’ Enyiu River, one of the rivers in Wungun Forest, for their lunch.
Collectively Protecting Forest While the men of Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung were patrolling the forest, the women of Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung were capturing fishes in Blu’ Enyiu River, one of the rivers in Wungun Forest, for their lunch. © Maya Patriani

Marsiti hoped that her efforts with the Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community in protecting nature could conserve their culture and bring prosperity to Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung. “Wungun is a place where we do community activities, hunting, gathering food, and other irreplaceable activities since ancient times. We want to always be with Wungun, live along and within it all the time, just like our ancestor,” explained Marsiti.

Marsiti and Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community will faithfully protect nature that has safeguarded and raised their community.
Nature Champion Marsiti and Dayak Mapnan Long Duhung community will faithfully protect nature that has safeguarded and raised their community. © Chris Djoka

Marsiti’s grit in protecting nature and her community would never fade. Marsiti believed that her faithful service to nature, which has protected her community since ancient times, would bring prosperity to them and their future generations.