KLHK Accelerate Forest Legalization for Indigenous Peoples

KLHK Accelerate Forest Legalization for Indigenous PeoplesJAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya said it is working to accelerate the legalization process of customary forest for local indigenous people.

The government has established a field companion team of 4700 people. Together with activists and communities, the team is tasked with checking the lands that will be diverted as customary forests.

"Now we are preparing mentoring and counseling, of course there must be verification of the location, coordinates and research in the field.That time consuming, but because there is the initial data so it is easier," said Siti when met at the office of Kemenko Polhukam, Central Jakarta, Thursday (19/1/2017).

Siti explained that based on KLHK data, currently 4 million hectares of the total 8 million hectares provided by the government have been designated as forests of indigenous peoples.

Of the total, the government plans to increase customary forest targets to 12.5 million hectares with a transfer pattern of 2 million hectares annually.

"I think the hope of Mr. President we can do the best," said Siti.

Earlier, President Joko Widodo ordered his staff to reduce social inequality, accelerating the legalization process of customary forests to local indigenous peoples. The promise of acceleration was expressed by President Jokowi while chairing a plenary cabinet meeting at the Bogor Palace on Wednesday (4/1/2017).

Lack of status transfer

So far, the government has been slow in legalizing customary forest for local customary law community. Registration of customary forest areas was submitted by a number of indigenous and tribal peoples and civil society organizations on 5 October 2015 to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (KLHK).

The determination of customary law area was proposed by Marga Serampas customary community in Merangin district, Jambi province, Ammatoa Kajang community in Bulukumba district, South Sulawesi, Lipu Wana Posangke community in Morowali district, Central Sulawesi, and Kasepuhan Karang in Lebak district, Banten.

However, KLHK has just issued the determination of customary forest area on 30 December 2016.According to Director of Rimbawan Muda Indonesi (RMI) Mardha Tillah, this is due to doubts and government skepticism that indigenous peoples will not be able to manage forests. It should be eliminated if the government is serious about reducing social inequalities.

"Many are skeptical, uncomfortable, or fearful of change, as well as changing the status of state forests into customary forests." After the first indigenous forest decree of December 30, 2016, then the subsequent determination is not expected to take a long time, "said Mardha when contacted on Thursday (5/1/2017).

Mardha said that the change of state forest status into forests has been underestimated, let alone the transfer of ownership status to indigenous peoples. The government is considered too cautious because there has never been a precedent before.

"That this (status change) is not in an effort to threaten the existence of forests, but in fact it has contributed to the expansion of the number of forest areas," he said.

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