The Spatial Environmental Organization and the life of the Dawan People in Timor, Indonesia


  • Eko Baroto Walujo Laboratory of Ethnobotany, Research Center for Biology. Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI), Bogor, Indonesia


Spatial environmental organization, plant diversity, Dawan people, Timor, Indonesia


The Dawan people residing in Insana district of Timor Island (Indonesia) recognise 8 types of natural, succession as well as man-made ecosystems based on the physiognomy or the vegetation cover of the habitat. This knowledge is derived from their long interactions with their environment, especially because their way of live is wholly dependent on their surrounding natural resources. Consequently there ts nasi (natural stand looked upon as traditional forest), kick iokok (natural area served as sacred sites), lele (communal agricultural pa an (private agricultural land), lein (abandoned arable land due to the cycle of the shifting agriculture), kintal (clearly marked private kitchen garden), kuan (communal hamlet garden) and hie. sona (savanna used for communal ranching and hunting). Each type has its own characteristic plant species composition related to their uses by the people. In recent years these long traditions have been under going changes (the conversion of nasi and kzuk tokok into arable land, the over exploitations of sandal wood Sansalum album and timber trees such as Sehleichera edema, Parinari rogmhosurn and Ptertwarpus indices, as well as the shortening of the shifting cycle due to population pressure). In view of the scarcity of the resources, a number of traditional practices (such as hunting by burning shifting agriculture) can not be maintained. Family planning, and other intensified agricultural techniques will have to be introduced together with the encouragement of motivation for the people to observe sound natural resources management as inherited from their ancestors.