Paninggahan, West Sumatra

The site

Lake Singkarak, approximately 21 km long and 7 km wide, is located between the cities of Padang Panjang and Solok in West Sumatra province.  The water in Lake Singkarak comes mostly from five main rivers. Total catchment area is about 58 460 hectare.

About 32% of the area surrounding the lake (18 664 hectare) is critical land (mostly covered by imperata grassland), while rice paddy (21%), upland crops (17%) and other uses (30%) make up the rest.

About 400 000 people (approximately 205 people per km2) live in the surrounding area in 13 ‘nagari’. The main sources of income are agriculture and fisheries (76.5%), indicating that local people depend on the natural ecosystem for their livelihoods.

The system of governance in West Sumatra has been changed from ‘village’ into ‘nagari’ as part of the decentralization process. The nagari system recognizes the traditional effectiveness of local communities in managing natural resources.

In 2002, the National Strategy Studies on Clean Development Mechanism conducted by the Ministry of Environment identified the Singkarak watershed as a potential site for implementing a national reforestation carbon project.

The issues

Logging activity in the past created thousands of hectare of bare land, most of which has not recovered. Agricultural activities in the uplands also helped create ‘alang-alang’ (Imperata cylindrica) land in some parts.

Previously, some scientists pointed to erosion around Lake Singkarak as the major problem and grassland reforestation as the main way to enhance environmental services, particularly to increase water supply. However, a RUPES study revealed that reforestation might not be the only solution. We found that the change of inflow to Lake Singkarak was also caused by the rainfall pattern and a hydropower plant.

Environmental services and the people involved

Environmental services

Watershed services through reforestation program

People who provide the services

Five farmers’ groups with a total membership of 80

People who benefit from the services

CO2 Operate BV, PLTA Singkarak

People who act as intermediaries between the providers and the beneficiaries

Yayasan Danau Singkarak

During the first phase, RUPES was more focused on building the capacity of local communities, institutions and government agencies in Singkarak watershed. 

In the second phase, RUPES worked to engage stakeholders in pro-poor environmental services’ schemes, including buyers, investors and intermediary agencies, such as CO2Operate BV, Andalas University, the government’s Forestry Service and Pembangkit Listrik Tenaga Air (PLTA/hydropower company).

A voluntary carbon market was established, where Paninggahan communities as service providers, rehabilitated degraded land to generating carbon credits. CO2Operate BV was the buyer of the service. Yayasan Danau Singkarak (YADAS) and Nagari Paninggahan played the role of intermediaries, not only to assist farmers but also to be actively involved in administration and to monitor the rehabilitation process. The contract period is about 10 years with monitoring and evaluation each year. The community receive USD 1000 per hectare per year to provide sequestration of 4050 ton of carbon-dioxide equivalent, produced from seven types of trees that have been planted on 25 hectare in the upper Singkarak watershed.

The rewards

Flowing money to upland communities

Together with PLTA and local communities, RUPES established a scheme to distribute royalties. This not only benefited the communities through improvement of their economic condition but also had advantages for electricity production. In 2005, Nagari Paninggahan received almost USD 40 000 from the hydropower company, or USD 1 per person per year.

This system offers an example for application elsewhere since it included compensation for damage caused to livelihoods (in the nagaris bordering the lake) and also for relatively poor nagaris. The funds were intended to provide an incentive to maintain environmental conditions. The amount of payment depended on the amount of electricity produced, thus, the stakeholders in return had a strong interest in supporting the better performance of the hydropower company.

Rehabilitation of grassland into agroforests through a voluntary carbon market

The voluntary carbon market project was located on grassed and cleared upland areas in the foothills surrounding Paninggahan. The aim was to involve farmers in a tree-planting scheme on grassland around Lake Singkarak in order to offset carbon emissions by the investor, as well as ensure that the farmers and the local communities benefited from the scheme through RUPES’ rewards.

The main stakeholders were described as ‘buyers’ and ‘sellers’, that is, the buyer was the carbon trader and the sellers the farmers. A contract was negotiated between the service buyer, which was a company domiciled in the Netherlands (CO2Operate BV), with the service seller, which was the community of Paninggahan, represented by the ‘wali nagari’ (village leader). The leaders of the nagarisigned the agreement and the farmers then implemented it, utilizing 28 hectare of communal land, with the aim of creating 4090 ton of carbon over a period of 10 years. There were 43 farmers involved as sellers, mostly male but some female, all from the village or the surrounding area of Paninggahan. The carbon dioxide absorption and/or storage contract took effect from 1 September 2009. There were four organizations represented in the contract, namely, CO2Operate BV (buyer), World Agroforestry Centre (facilitator), the nagari of Paninggahan (seller), and YADAS (verifier).

The most important point in the contract was regarding payments that would be made to farmers, along with the terms (the ‘conditionality’). Payment stages were divided into four: 1) 60% of the total payment upon contract signing; 2) 15% three months after the first payment; 3) 20% at the end of the fifth year (contract mid-period); and 4) 5% at the end of the contract period (in the tenth year). The contract value amounted to IDR 10 000 000 (±USD 1090) per hectare for each farmer, the total varying depending on the amount of land owned. The management board from the nagari of the villages (voluntary carbon market management board) received a fee of 12.5% of the total contract for services such as administration, supervision and program management in their nagari for a work period of 10 years. 

The period of the contract was from 2009 to 2018. Species to be planted at a minimum of 1100 seedlings per hectare included clove (Eugenia aromatica), chocolate (Cocoa), avocado (Persea americana), durian (Durio zibertinus), mahogany (Swietenia mahogany), ‘surian’ (Caeseria grewiaefolia) and nut (Pentace sp). The planting was carried out in December 2009. The agreement with the buyers also included an obligation by the service providers to attend training in land preparation and tree maintenance.

Most of the farmers planted the trees on their land, with some already grown to the treatment stage. Funding for treatment was highly anticipated by the farmers considering the various needs for fertilizers, pest and disease control, and other cash requirements to ensure plants’ growth.

At the time of writing, there have been varying reports of success from the farmers, with only 40% of the target amount of trees successfully planted, thus, already the scheme was behind on the ten-year plan. The buyer withheld payment until further progress was achieved.

Rehabilitation of ‘ulu’ coffee garden

Nagari Paninggahan was revitalizing its old coffee plantation, which took up 100 hectare out of the over 1050 hectare of their customary forest. They used ‘organic’ coffee production rules, benefiting from 50 years of no fertilizer input, to maintain clean water flow into Lake Singkarak. RUPES established a pilot plot that maintained environmental protection and optimized community income. The beginning stages of the project involved comprehensive community consultation with Paninggahan village. 

In 2006, a number of local leaders involved in the RUPES project started to revitalize the kopi ulu area. The revitalization included a needs assessment, mapping land ownership, identifying coffee production techniques, developing a master plan, and searching for funding. In the next year, in collaboration with the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Center, RUPES and the community began the coffee revitalization program through two approaches: increasing the productivity of robusta coffee; and adding value to organic robusta coffee.

However, some problems needed to be solved. One of them was related to the land’s status. The previous status was ‘enclave’, which recently had been changed by the district government into ‘protection forest’.

Providing comprehensive scientific  information about the rehabilitation of the coffee garden, in relation to biodiversity, water quality, and landscape as a whole, was needed to gain acceptance from local government and the communities.

Development of environmental education centre and integrated clean lake program

In order to integrate RUPES’ projects in Singkarak, and to support comprehensive and sustainable action to protect Lake Singkarak, an initiative to establish an environmental education centre emerged. The centre was expected to be a hub of knowledge as well as form part of a strategy to provide better environmental education that is closer to, and integrated with, the communities’ daily lives. RUPES believed that environmental education was required for the younger generation, as they will be the main actors in the future management of their own natural resources. 

In addition, the centre would provide information regarding ecotourism in Singkarak and the cultures of the Minangkabau societies. The World Agroforestry Centre is acting as a facilitator in establishing the centre. At the time of writing, the  project was at model stage and seeking investors. The aims are to educate visitors and the local communities about the impacts of their activities on the environment, and about environmental issues in general.

Another project was integrated lake management. The aims were to bring more tourism, investment and prosperity to the area, all with environmental considerations at heart. To begin work on this, we brought together all stakeholders involved in management of Lake Singkarak to agree on efforts to improve the lake’s condition. Later, four local governments (Solok district, Solok city, Tanah Datar district and Padang Panjang city) committed to cleaning the lake. This opened opportunities to expand the project nationally through the Lake Priority Program conducted by the Ministry of Environment. The communities also established working groups, which had as one of their aims providing extension programs about the importance of a clean lake for their lives and for those of other communities around it.


The completion of the RUPES project in West Sumatra was marked by a one-day seminar. The workshop examined a variety of research studies and results produced by the World Agroforestry Centre and its partners in West Sumatra, including recommendations for further action. The event ended with a handover of the final research reports to provincial forestry services, symbolizing the transfer of responsibility for further implementation of environmental services’ schemes to the Government of West Sumatra. It was agreed that each program would continue, led by stakeholders such as Andalas University, Singkarak Lake Managemen Body, Forestry Services, and the Planning and Development Agency of Solok district. 

Site partners

  • Yayasan Danau Singkarak (YADAS)

YADAS is a local organization formed by members of the Paninggahan community who live in other parts of Indonesia, with the aim of supporting the community in Nagari Paninggahan by providing educational opportunities, village development through raising funds from other ‘expatriate’ village members and creating opportunities for cooperation by linking outsiders (investors, governments, local/international projects etc) with the nagari.

  • Nagari Paninggahan, Solok, West Sumatra

Nagari Paninggahan is one of 12 nagari around Lake Singkarak, in Solok, West Sumatra province. Paninggahan is 400–600 metre above sea level, with a temperature range of 19–28C throughout the year. The average temperature is 22C with average humidity of 83%.

  • CO2Operate BV

CO2Operate is a for-profit company working in the area of pro-poor emission reduction projects. The objectives of CO2Operate are not limited to the reduction of greenhouse gases but also extend to— in cooperation with industryproviding opportunities for local entrepreneurship, productive agriculture instead of degraded agriculture, enhancing biodiversity in the agricultural sector, and also planting trees to increase environmental functions and livelihoods. The company wants to contribute to a sustainable economy by combating climate change, reducing degradation of global biodiversity, and improving the sustainability of production chains and the socio-economic position of producers in Asia through innovative concepts. Customers are mainly from the printing industry but are rapidly expanding to all other sectors, ranging from advertising agencies to textile companies (

  • Andalas University

University Andalas was established in 1956 in Padang. It is the fourth oldest university in Indonesia and the oldest university outside Java. It consists of 11 faculties, most of them located at the main campus building, Limau Manis, 12 km from the centre of Padang, West Sumatra province. Webometrics placed Andalas in the 100 best universities in ASEAN (rank 26) with a ranking of 8 in Indonesia (best outside Java) in January 2011 (

Contacts for more information