Sasisen, or Sasi, is a local conservation method that regulates the use of a specific natural resource. The practice is rooted in the communities of eastern Indonesia, such as Saba, Auki Island, Mangguandi Island, and the Padaido Islands in East Biak.

Clemens Iraria, Head of the Community Council in Saba Village, 50 kilometers east of Biak, explains, “During closed season, the community is not allowed to harvest the species, but after a certain period, the community may harvest.” However, not all goes to plan. He continues, “In the last 5 years, some people break this tradition. This happens because the local institutions have lost power and authority. Especially since the enforcement of national law on village government, sasisen has increasingly lost its ability to aid conservation. Even when it is practiced, sasi is now mostly regarded as a cultural ceremonial event; few use sasi as a tool for improving ecological conditions and/or increasing the income of the community.”

Semuel Mansmor, head of Saba Village and site coordinator for the LMMA Network in Saba, joined the LMMA meeting held in Fiji in August 2003. There, he learned that conservation projects must encourage local communities to have a sense of ownership over natural resources so that they will be committed to using resources wisely and sustainably. Sasi systems do allow for sustainable use of resources, and the challenge now is to modernize it into a present-day conservation system. Mansmor sees that an LMMA approach equips local communities with skills to select the important species as well as the right habitat and ecosystem that will work best with the sasi method. Using an LMMA approach also enables communities to evaluate whether the protected species and areas directly contribute to the improvement of both economic and ecological conditions.

Now that Clemens Iraria and Semuel Mansmor have introduced and shown the benefits of using LMMAs with the Learning Framework as a guide, other community members in Saba see that this method may not only lead to ecological and economic improvement, but also enhances the community members’ conservation knowledge and skills. This has resulted in a commitment to widen conservation areas.

In May 2004, the Office of the Minister of Environment announced that Semuel Mansmor has been awarded the prestigious Kalpataru (“Hero of the Earth”) environmental award from the Government of Indonesia. He is one of five recipients selected out of 400 candidates. On June 5th, he will receive the award from the President in Jakarta, and on June 15th, he will celebrate with LMMA friends in Saba at the opening of an LMMA workshop.

Location – Indonesia
1° 3′ 16.6608″ S, 114° 57′ 39.3768″ E