Published online June 27, 2022
Journal of Ecology and Environment (2022) 46:14
© The Ecological Society of Korea.
1Department of Geography Education, Faculty of Social Science, State University of Malang, Malang 65145, Indonesia
2Social Studies Program, Faculty of Social Science, State University of Malang, Malang 65145, Indonesia
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Background: Bamboo forests provides benefits for nature and the welfare of the people of Turen in Malang Regency and Sumbermujur in Lumajang Regency. They interact with the forest to live through the development of forest potential based on local wisdom. This is believed to prevent various adverse impacts on the forest. Local wisdom is related to beliefs or/and taboos, ethics and rules, techniques and technology, as well as forest/ land management traditions carried out by the community in building, managing forests, and Turen springs in Malang Regency and Sumbermujur in Lumajang Regency. Therefore, it is important to study the potential of bamboo forests in Turen and Sumbermujur for ecotourism, the development of bamboo forest ecotourism in Turen and Sumbermujur based on local wisdom, and the potential of bamboo forests in Turen and Sumbermujur in sustainable spring conservation.
Results: Bamboo forest ecotourism has become an attractive tourist attraction. It is also beneficial for environmental conservation and the welfare of the surrounding community. The potential of bamboo forests in ecotourism development consists of various types of old bamboo that are fertile which offer environmentally friendly tourism activities by prioritizing aspects of nature conservation and socio-cultural empowerment of the local community. This cannot be separated from the belief that bamboo has supernatural powers (as a protector), so they do not dare to take or damage the existing bamboo. This behavior has a positive impact on springs that are still sustainable.
Conclusions: Therefore, the charm of the bamboo forest is a potential that can be developed through ecotourism based on local wisdom. The development of bamboo forest ecotourism based on local wisdom is able to meet the living needs of the surrounding community.
Keywords: bamboo forest, ecotourism, spring, local wisdom
The development of sustainable alternative tourism, especially ecotourism, supports ecological preservation. Ecotourism is natural or ecological tourism involving responsible travel to natural, fragile, and relatively undisturbed places to study, admire and enjoy the natural scenery, flora and fauna, and the existing culture of the community both from the past and the present (Sumarmi 2015). Ecotourism can also be said as a tourist trip to an environment (both natural and artificial) and included in an informative and participatory culture to ensure the preservation of nature and socio-culture (Sumarmi et al. 2020). In addition, tourism development also provides economically feasible and ethically and socially fair benefits to the community. It can happen because eco-tourism focuses on three basic things: 1) the provision of economic benefits, 2) the sustainability of ecology or nature, and 3) psychological acceptance in people’s social lives. In other words, ecotourism activities will directly provide access for all people to enjoy, know, and see the natural, intellectual, and cultural experiences of local people (Manahampi et al. 2019; Rhama 2019).
One of human tendencies is to return to nature because, psychologically, nature provides peace (Yuwanto 2019). Thus, ecotourism development in Indonesia helps to meet the community’s needs and restore and maintain environmental conditions, one of which is the development of ecotourism in Indonesia, especially in watersheds. The ecotourism development in Indonesia, especially in watersheds, is crucial because some of the watersheds in Indonesia are in very critical condition. Therefore, ecotourism becomes very important in land and water conservation. However, Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI) research on Mount Semeru has confirmed that the water discharge ranges from 600–800 liters per second in the dry season and 1,000 liters per second in the rainy season. The increase in water discharge of around 350 liters per second is due to the maintenance of a 14-hectare bamboo forest above Sumber Deling springs (Widjaja 2013). One of the supporting factors for that is the development of ecotourism in Lumajang. In addition, ecotourism development, which has become the interest of many people, answers issues related to global warming and the recent environmental crisis (Burns and Holden 1995).
Ecotourism development with good and sustainable management can create jobs, so as to improve the economy of the surrounding community. However, the development of ecotourism still pays attention to aspects of environmental sustainability. Ecotourism development must maintain environmental sustainability which can increase public participation and awareness about the good use of nature and can improve the economy of the local community (Satria 2009). This is in line with the people in Turen and Sumbermujur who protect nature by preserving the potential of bamboo forests, so that the hydrological aspect shows good conditions, namely the springs are sustainable.
Good management of bamboo forests can regulate the flow of water. Related to the preservation of bamboo forests and springs, Yeny et al. (2016), in her study on local wisdom and forest bamboo management in Bali, revealed that 1) the existence of local wisdom of
Bamboo forests are able to preserve water due to a fibrous root system with very strong rhizome roots. Bamboo roots can absorb large amounts of rainwater, thus preventing erosion on the soil surface (Sulistianto 2017). Bamboo can absorb up to 90% rainwater while trees absorb around 35%–40% (Sujarwo 2018). In addition, the stems are also able to hold water for a long time, and maintain the flow of underground water. Based on this description, the focus of the research is bamboo forest conservation, ecotourism and water conservation. The details of the research objectives are as follows: 1) studying the potential of bamboo forests in Turen and Sumbermujur for the development of ecotourism based on local wisdom, and 2) exploring the potentials of bamboo forests in Turen and Sumbermujur in sustainable spring conservation.
This descriptive qualitative research was conducted in Sanansekerto Village, Turen District, Malang Regency, Indonesia and Sumbermujur Village, Candipuro District, Lumajang Regency, Indonesia. The locations of the research can be seen more clearly on the following Figures 1 and 2.
The data in this study are primary data obtained from observations, interviews, and focus group discussion (FGD) with informants. Informants were selected purposively using the snowball technique where the selected informants were appointed by other colleagues who were expected to provide more detailed information (Sugiyono 2016). The ten informants selected at each research location were members of tourism awareness group (Pokdarwis), local communities, especially people who do business in bamboo forest ecotourism sites, and tourists. In addition to primary data, we also collect secondary data from documents, literature, and publications.
Data collection was carried out by observation, interviews, and FGD with the Pokdarwis managing ecotourism sites, tourist village officials, tourists and people who are active in tourist attractions. The observations made were passive participation observations by making direct observations at the research location. In-depth interviews were used to collect data related to the potential of bamboo forests for ecotourism and their development based on local wisdom in sustainable spring conservation. Then the FGD was carried out by exploring a phenomenon from the research location to produce a mutual agreement regarding the development of ecotourism based on local wisdom.
Data analysis in this study consisted of data reduction, data presentation and conclusion drawing. Data reduction includes the process of selecting, centralizing and transforming data from the field. In this activity there are stages of coding, summarizing and creating partitions (parts). So that in this data reduction, researchers sharpen, classify, direct, discard unnecessary and organize data to draw conclusions. Next is the presentation of the data. This step by explaining the summary, connecting several categorizations from the results of the reduction can finally draw conclusions. Data analysis activities can be seen in the Figure 3 below.
Bamboo forest ecotourism uses bamboo forests as its main attraction. However, aside from being a tourist attraction, bamboo forests are also used as a place for environmental conservation, supporting the natural environment and meeting the needs of the surrounding community. This concept has been widely practiced globally, such as in Xianning City in China, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, and many others (Bamboo Ecotours 2020; Lei and Chengyu 2019), including Indonesia.
In Indonesia, the concept of bamboo forest ecotourism has also largely begun to emerge, such as in Sembalun (East Nusa Tenggara), in Ubud (Bali), and in Tentena (Poso) (Rosida 2020; Sofian et al. 2017). In addition, there are two bamboo forest ecotourism objects in East Java, namely Boon Pring Andeman Bamboo Forest in Malang Regency and Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest in Lumajang Regency. Both places have their beauty explained as follows:
Boon Pring Andeman bamboo forest is located on Jalan Kampung Anyar, Sanankerto Village, Turen District, Malang Regency, East Java Province. This bamboo village is located in the southern region, about 40 kilometers from the center of Malang City (taking ±1 hour to reach there). The beauty provided by this tourist attraction includes 1) an artificial lake combined with 2) various species of towering bamboo plants and animals living in it, and 3) additional facilities to increase tourist attraction. The leader of Pokdarwis of Boon Pring Andeman recognized the site is always full of visitors on holidays, such as during Idul Fitri, Christmas, and New Year. Domestic and foreign tourists come to Boon Pring Andeman to enjoy the fresh and natural atmosphere. A detailed explanation regarding the beauty of Boon Pring Andeman is presented below.
First, Boon Pring Andeman offers the beauty of the artificial lake or pond. Formerly, this area only had a few scattered springs. However, after the government’s conservation program in 1978, the surrounding community worked together to build a pond with a depth of two to three meters, called Andeman lake. The water source of this pond comes from six springs, namely Sumber Adem, Sumber Towo, Sumber Gatel, Sumber Maron, Sumber Krecek, and Sumber Seger. These six springs are maintained along with the preservation of bamboo, reflecting the beauty and serenity of this place. The two beauties are part of
Second, located in a hilly area, Boon Pring Andeman has various species of bamboo, which become one of its attractions, including
Furthermore, the Boon Pring Andeman lake is home to various kinds of fish such as Koi, Nile tilapia, and goldfish, certainly adding to the attraction of the site. This concurs with the results of research by Sukmono et al. (2013) showing the diversity of fish in Hutan Harapan Jambi, Indonesia consisting of 123 fish species, 25 families, and 52 genera.
Third, one of the most popular and favorite tourist activities offered in Boon Pring Andeman is riding a gethek (bamboo raft). Mbah Gimbal, the Pokdarwis leader, stated that Chinese tourists liked to ride in gethek. This tourist activity automatically increases the attractiveness of this ecotourism place—it creates such unforgettable memories. The memories are related to a sense of pleasure, creating good reminiscence for tourists (Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy 2012; Rahmawati et al. 2017). Due to the growing interest towards the tourist activity model, the managers of this tourist attraction provide various facilities for activities such as boating, playing water ball, flying fox, horse riding, mini trail, all terrain vehicle (ATV), archery, balloon palace, trampoline, camping (ground), and swimming (pool). Moreover, there is also an island planted with beautiful plants in the middle of the lake with a large pavilion for visitors to rest—many birdhouses are also found everywhere. These splendors are hoped to leave good experiences for visitors, ultimately attracting many new tourists to visit and creating sustainable tourism. An overview of tourist activities in Boon Pring Andeman can be seen in Figure 5.
Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest is located in Sumbermujur Village, Candipuro Subdistrict, Lumajang Regency, on the slopes of Mount Semeru with an area of 14 hectares and at an altitude of 700 masl. Therefore, the site is cold and has such a relaxed atmosphere. Visitors are also spoiled with views of lush and towering bamboo trees. Based on the research results of Yuanita (2019) stated that the condition of bamboo in the Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest with a relative abundance index (IKR) showed that only one type of bamboo had a high IKR, namely
Sumbermujur Village is the villages that has arranged the related village spatial plan based as a tourist village. The bamboo forest in Sumbermujur always adheres to its local wisdom, so that it is still sustainable. This is also in accordance with the form of bamboo forest conservation in Panglipuran Through the local wisdom of diversity the sustainability of bamboo species is maintained (Yuliani et al. 2017). Sumbermujur Village has also preserved bamboo forest as one of the forest that is useful in meeting the needs of water resources for the population. One of them Sumber Deling has a discharge of 700 liters/second so that the total water flowed in one day is 60,480,000 liters/day. This amount of water is able to meet the clean water needs of the residents in Sumbermujur Village which is used by the surrounding community for irrigating rice fields in the area. Bamboo forest tourism is also a habitat for animals such as bats (big bats), monkeys, Javanese eagles, and other types of birds. Bamboo forest ecotourism has natural potential to be developed.
The development of bamboo forest ecotourism cannot be separated from a good management system. The development process is to stick to the ecotourism concept in the bamboo forest. The existence of an ecotourism concept should be in the bamboo forest to strengthen the potential for natural tourism that can attract visitors or tourists from various regions. The existence of this ecotourism development directs bamboo forest ecotourism towards the ecotourism concept that is there, so that its development is in line with environmental conservation and has a good impact on the local economy.
The educational tours in the Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest give visitors unforgettable memories (Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy 2012). Hence, tourists are stimulated to still experience and enjoy this tourism in the future (Bantul Regency Tourism Office 2010; Putri and Ariana 2011). Meanwhile, the numerous bamboo species, supported by the cold relaxed atmosphere of the mountain, is such a great attraction for tourists in the Sumbermujur ecotourism area. The description of Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest tourism can be seen in Figure 6.
Besides bamboo, many other endemic plants can be used as an educational tourist attraction, such as those offered by Purwodadi Botanical Gardens (Sotyati 2009). This kind of tourism is highly potential because Indonesia is a country rich in endemic plant species compared to other countries, as shown in Table 1 below (Goodwin et al. 1997).
Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest is also a habitat for giant bats, monkeys, Javanese eagle, many kinds of, and other species. Thousands of giant bats and monkeys live in this bamboo forest. Therefore, this bamboo conservation area is a comfortable place for humans and animals. The animals living in the area increase the natural beauty of this tourism object, providing the tourists with more beautiful memories. The manager of Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest also added types of tourist attractions in the area by building swimming pools with water from Mount Semeru.
Before becoming a tourist attraction, Boon Pring Andeman Bamboo Forest was an ordinary forest to meet household wood needs, such as firewood and house construction material. This bamboo forest area has approximately six springs. A lake was built in 1978 to meet the needs for agricultural irrigation around this area. Five years later, after the issuance of the government’s policy on land and water conservation, the land around the lake finally began to be planted with other bamboo species. Now, approximately 70 bamboo species live here. The site was formerly called Sumber Andeman (Andeman Spring). Seeing this potential, Mohamad Subur, the Head of Sanankerto Village in 2015, began to develop ecotourism in this area.
The management of this tourist attraction was initially (from 2015 to 2017) handled by the youth organization, and it was still not intensively developed. In 2017, the management was entrusted to Badan Usaha Milik Desa (BUMDes) or the Village-Owned Enterprises—BUMDes initiated Boon Pring Andeman. The name of Boon Pring Andeman itself is a combination of two syllables in English and Javanese, namely boon (gift) and pring (bamboo). The word ‘boon’ is also similar to the pronunciation of the word ‘bun’ from ‘kebun’ (garden). The combination is unique. As a result, Sanankerto Village, which used to be a poor village in East Java, has now changed and is visited by domestic and foreign tourists. Abdullah et al. (2019) state that bamboo can support village independence. The management of this tourist attraction is done by Sanankerto villagers, including the committee, employees of Boon Pring Andeman, investors, and sellers on the site. Sellers have to pay rent to the managers.
In addition to being used as a tourist attraction, the lake in Boon Pring Andeman is also a source of water and energy for the community. The water from the lake has been used for 1) micro hydropower plants, 2) rice field irrigation, and 3) drinking water. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain the water environment resilience of this lake.
The community believes that springs from the lake in Boon Pring Andeman are beneficial for water resilience. As one of the springs in Boon Pring Andeman, people believe that Sumber Adem helps them feel people. Meanwhile, the water from Sumber Gatel will cause itching to people, and to heal it, people have to use water from Sumber Towo. Therefore, if Sumber Towo is not preserved, the lake water will itch the users. However, if Sumber Gatel is not preserved, the water source will decrease as well.
Many other management models in utilizing the potential of Boon Pring Andeman are available, starting from educational tours, fishing spots to kiosk rentals, as shown in Figure 7.
Tourism management in the Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest has been carried out since the Dutch colonial era. In the 1930s, the Dutch ordered the residents to plant bamboo in the Sumber Deling area. The bamboo forest was managed by Kelompok Pelestarian Sumberdaya Alam or the Natural Resources Conservation Group of the surrounding community. Although this bamboo forest was damaged during the Japanese era, it was reorganized in 1972. Now, various bamboo species have grown in clumps (Fig. 8).
Since 2014, the management of Sumbermujur ecotourism has been carried out by the Sabuk Semeru Pokdarwis, considering that the area is a village asset that must be utilized. As stated in Government Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia Number 6 of 2007, the management and utilization of forest areas is the government’s authority, including the regional governments. As for Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest, nine of the total 14 hectares function for conservation, tourism, agricultural irrigation, and drinking water sources.
To improve tourist facilities in Sumbermujur, the Sumbermujur Government disbursed approximately IDR 400,000,000 village funds for constructing swimming pools, prayer rooms (mushola), and toilets. Meanwhile, the arrangement was carried out using the ticketing money received from the tourists. The facilities that tourists can enjoy include toilets, parking lots, prayer rooms, food stalls, swimming pools, pavilions, souvenir shops, selfie spots, ticket windows, first aid kits, trash cans, information centers, and lodging.
In addition to tourism management, the conservation of Sumbermujur Bamboo Forest is also continuously carried out because Sumber Deling springs support the lives of residents and surrounding areas for drinking water and agricultural irrigation. Furthermore, the villagers of Sumbermujur can grow rice throughout the year owing to this source because the water discharge reaches 800 liters/second. Therefore, the community is highly supportive of the conservation of this site. Thus, the preservation of this natural resource that does not leave the community’s socio-economic needs has been fulfilled by the manager as a form of obligation to develop marine ecotourism and water conservation (Basuki 2010).
Conservation areas are generally maintained and supported by a group of people living around them. Therefore, conservation areas raise the local wisdom of the community in particular. From the explanation above, at least several cultural aspects are connected. First, the people usually have a unique understanding of the origin of their place and existence. Second, there is a specific belief system that develops in the community. Lastly, understanding their origin and belief creates certain ethical attitudes towards bamboo forests, leading to natural conservation behavior and understanding the specified environmental ethics in the bamboo forest. Many studies have proven that natural conservation issue has a lot to do with the culture of the surrounding community and, at the same time, shows an understanding of local wisdom itself on the environment (Yeny et al. 2016) like what happens in Sumbermujur ecotourism.
Sumbermujur is one of the areas in Lumajang, East Java, which have a variety of developing myths. For example, the community believes that they are not allowed to cut down the bamboo trees in the area ruthlessly because it will lead to misfortune to them and their family. Due to this belief, the bamboo trees continue to live sustainably and store many groundwater reserves. This belief has been passed down for generations, and the community respects it well. They believe what their elders have believed, seeing it as fact, not ancient fiction. One of the traditional activities carried out annually is Grebeg Suro on every 1 Suro (Javanese’s New Year Celebration).
The core ritual of Grebeg Suro is about burying a cow’s head, which is an ancient custom that people still practice. There is also the Oling dance ritual (Fig. 9), a traditional dance interpreting the emergence of Oling fish, a species of long catfish like an eel. Grebeg Suro or Maheso Suroan tradition is also about sending prayers led by religious leaders asking for safety and protection from God. According to the traditional belief, cows’ heads are chosen in the ritual because cows, and buffaloes, are domestic livestock producing abundant urine. Burying animals producing much urine is believed to enrich water sources. Differently, in Malay society, such rituals aim at warding off misfortune and keeping the village safe (Hasbullah et al. 2017). In addition to cows’ heads, gunungan tumpeng nasi kuning (Indonesian cone-shaped yellow rice with side dishes of vegetables and meat originating from Javanese cuisine) also presents as one of the offerings. Gunungan tumpeng nasi kuning is a golden symbol of bringing people to the golden age. There is also gunungan polo pendem containing agricultural products of underground stems (tubers) and polo gumantung containing agricultural products with fruits hanging on their trees, like papayas, bananas, jackfruit, and others. The ritual represents the community’s gratitude to God Almighty for the abundant harvest and protection from pests and diseases that damage plants. Location of Grebeg Suro ritual in Sumbermujur can be seen in Figure 10.
Seeing this potential, Pokdarwis has innovated by holding an event during Grebeg Suro. As such, there seems that the myth has its rationale. Many traditional concepts represented in the local wisdom encourage people toward a more harmonious life with nature. In Sumbermujur, environmental wisdom has continuously been manifested as a way of life. When people can elaborate and practice this concept, nature will provide human beings a prosperous living environment.
Regarding the growing myths, the surrounding community and visitors believe that the springwater can cure various diseases, such as rheumatism, skin diseases, and so on. As such, tourists often bathe in the pool.
Findings from the two research locations indicated that bamboo forests managed as ecotourism consisted of various bamboo species living for a very long time. Bamboo trees in Sumbermujur have existed since the Dutch era. The bamboo forests are so beautiful, and added with sustainable bamboo forest management based on the local wisdom, they become such lush for tourists and helps to create sustainable water sources. It is consistent with and supports the findings of many other studies, some of which are explained below.
First, Raka et al. (2011) conducted a field experiment and survey research design on 30 villages having marginal or critical land areas in East Bali. Findings showed that 1) the percentage of community participation in the preservation of bamboo trees to overcome marginal or critical land reached 76% (strong), and 2) through demonstration plots of bamboo trees, the water discharge increased by 10%. It is suggested that the village government take an active role by making
Second, in line with these research findings, Yeny et al. (2016) have found that the bamboo forest has social, economic, and hydrological roles for the people of Kintamani, Bangli. The bamboo forest represents an interaction between the community, the land, and the bamboo trees. Efforts to build a bamboo forest in Kintamani began in 2001. Before that, the community did not rely on bamboo as a source of livelihood. The population in general only relies on crops such as coffee, oranges, jackfruit, and other plantation crops to meet their daily needs.
From the economic aspect, the bamboo forest in Banjar Bumbung Kelambu, Batur Village, Kintamani can increase the community income through bamboo forest management activities. The people who manage the bamboo have been able to harvest seven bamboo sticks per clump per year. In other words, their average income reached IDR 1,191,066 per month (Yeny et al. 2016). The income is used to meet the basic needs of farmer households and school financing. Meanwhile, in China, a bamboo forest covering 4.3 million hectares of area is estimated to produce 14.2 million tons of bamboo per year. Supported by the existing traditional and cultural values, bamboo forests in China have reached 3% of the total forest and contributed about 2.8 million US dollars (25%) of the total exports (Garland 2004). This result came after ten years of well-management of bamboo plants.
In terms of conservation, the Utthan center has planted 106 hectares of bamboo forests as an effort to conserve ex-stone mining land in India. Within four years, the groundwater level has increased by 6.3 cm, and the entire plants look greenish. This conservation also provides jobs for about 80% of the local population by increasing community income through the bamboo handicraft industry Tewari 1980 in (Garland 2004). A comparative study of pine and bamboo forests in the watershed was also carried out to determine their effects on the environmental condition. The study results showed that bamboo forests significantly increase groundwater by 240% compared to pine forests Bareis 1998 in (Garland 2004). Higher-level conservation of bamboo forests increases water conservation and reduces the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere (Terefe et al. 2019). Thus, it is recommended to expand and intensify bamboo planting in the future.
From the findings of the study, it can be concluded that the charm of the bamboo forest is a potential that can be developed through ecotourism based on local wisdom. Local wisdom in communities around the forest directs respectful behavior towards nature. The development of bamboo forest ecotourism based on local wisdom affects the sustainability of springs. Sustainable springs, in turn, helps the surrounding community meet their daily needs.
We are very grateful to all Turen, Malang and Sumbdermujur, Lumajang indigenous people in the study area who generously participated in this research.
S and NW carried out the field study, performed the analysis and wrote the manuscript. AS and TM participated in the field study and edited the manuscript. All Author reviewed and edited the manuscript. The final version was read and approved by the authors.
Financing in support of State University of Malang.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.