T he ongoing debate over the future of Indonesia’s vast forestlands andforest resources, and in particular the new opportunities that presentthemselves for increased community control and management, is characterized by a complex continuum of contending perspectives. Different actors are seeking to speak for the people through a puzzling plurality of discourses (i.e., legal, social, political, economic, ecological), and the dialogue is striking in the dichotomy between rhetoric and intent. This chapter attempts to illustrate the creative confusion of the debate by painting, in broad strokes, some of the major themes that color this unprecedented opportunity for change. Although few of these themes are new, they have taken on an interesting life within the dynamic context of post-Soeharto Indonesia, and in particular, during the transitional government of President B.J. Habibie and the tenure of his minister of forestry, Muslimin Nasution. This context provides a new arena for public discussion and contestation, opening real possibilities for restructuring fundamental principles of natural resource ownership and distribution and for

realigning power and influence. Finally, this chapter focuses on one of the discrete new policies-the new community forestry program based on Ministerial Decree (Surat Keputusan [SK]) 677/1998-and discusses efforts to build an adaptive learning process into its implementation, which might accommodate the pluralism of local variations.1