Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 October 2015
With regional autonomy now established in Indonesia, the implications of decentralisation for conservation of the land and water resources that are essential for human survival are frequently overlooked. This is particularly so in Java, where there is an urgent need to preserve the environment in such a way as to ensure a sustainable habitat for almost 60 per cent of the country's population. With some 130 million people living in Java in 2004 by comparison with 76 million in 1971, the prediction made by prominent economist Sumitro Djojohadikusumo more than a quarter of a century ago that Java would become an ‘island city’ is approaching reality (Djojohadikusumo 1977: 102). As pressure on sources of livelihood in the agricultural sector increases and more land is needed every year for expansion in housing and infrastructure in urban and rural areas alike, the rate of environmental deterioration is accelerating. To these factors can be added the demands of city residents for recreational facilities outside urban areas and the relatively recent efforts by local governments to derive more revenue from sources within their own administrative districts.
As human activities expand and intensify, environmental conservation becomes a question of appropriate decisions in situations where several land use options exist and the interests of quite different groups of people are involved. While environmental problems exist throughout Java (Hardjono 1994), they are particularly evident in the province of West Java, where there are extensive uplands and where plantation agriculture still plays a role in land use systems.