Dalem Tamblingan Indigenous Peoples in Alas Mertajati, Buleleng

Learning Points

  • Local wisdom-based forestry management
  • Role of women and young people in participatory mapping processes, knowledge generation and sharing
  • Step-by-step process for the recognition of Customary Forests
  • Approaches to deal with third parties (investors)

Responsible Organisation

Ancestral Domains Registration Agency (BRWA)


Four villages (Catur Desa) and two districts: Banjar District (Gobleg Village, Munduk Village, and Gesing Village) and Busungbiu District (Umejero Village). The visit will be in Alas Mertajati.

81 Km (±2 hours 20 minutes by car) from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (Bali DPS).

Community Visit Profile

The Dalem Tamblingan IPs (DTIP) customary territory covers around 7,000 ha of land, of which 6,000 ha are paddy fields, plantations, and village settlements, while the remaining land is a forest area. This area is located at an altitude between 400 to 2,000 meters above sea level. The territory was very reach in water sources (springs), which have progressively dried due to forest degradation and encroachments by illegal loggers. The main source of water today comes from the Lake Tamblingan and the surrounding forest, called Alas Mertajati, which provides water supply not only to the Indigenous communities, but also to the whole surrounding lower areas. Therefore, the importance of preserving the Alas Mertajati and Tamblingan as customary forest, being not only a primary source of livelihoods for the communities, but also as spiritual and sacred site for Indigenous Peoples.

In 1996, the government designated Tamblingan as a Natural Tourism Park, promoting tourism activities around the lake and in the forest. This has led to increased forest degradation and exploration of natural resources. Forest management, as promoted by the government in the Natural Tourism Park, in fact, has limited restrictions compared to the indigenous customary forest management system. This last, strongly rooted in indigenous spiritual value and local wisdoms, has proven to be more effective to preserve biodiversity and mitigate the effect of climate change. In 2018, a group of young Dalem Tamblingan IPs engaged in a participatory mapping process, collecting accurate data on forest flora and fauna, as well on cultural and spiritual sites. They used those data to submit, in 2022, the request for the registration of the Alas Mertajati as Customary Forest to Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Up to now, however, their request has not been yet processed.

The registration of a Customary Forestry in Indonesia follows specific steps, involving the recognition of Traditional Villages under a customary governance system (Traditional Villages are recognized in Bali but not by the central government); the agreement of territorial boundaries and the delimitation of those boundaries by the District government. In the case of Dalem Tamblingan, the lack of agreement on the boundaries between the 9 villages involved, was an obstacle to proceed with the registration process.

In their struggle to get recognition on the forest area, the IPs communities were able to set up women and youth organizations, that had a prominent role in this process. They also created a Community Learning Centre to facilitate transgenerational learning on sustainable forest management practices based on indigenous ecological knowledge and customary laws and regulations.