For over five years Friends of the Earth Indonesia/WALHI has been developing a community-led model to protect the forests in Indonesia. It is based on recognising the Land Rights of subsistence farmers, collective management of non-timber forest products and traditional knowledge.
Indonesia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. 15.8 million hectares of forest were lost between 2000 and 2012. Deforestation is primarily caused by big businesses, that clear land for palm oil and other plantations, log for timber unsustainably and carry out major mining projects. This destroys the livelihoods of subsistence farmers who are forcibly removed from their lands.
Friends of the Earth Indonesia is currently working with farmers and peasant unions in 13 regions across the country to defend land rights and promote community control of natural resources. In the Province of Riau, smallholder Sagu farmers are fighting to protect their lands and forests from industrial plantations. Friends of the Earth Indonesia supports their struggle by providing free legal services, training on community organising and connects local producers directly to consumers. By developing land rights together with sustainable forest management, Friends of the Earth Indonesia aims to secure people’s livelihoods and the environment at the same time.
Successful community management of forests in Indonesia
Their approach is working. Not only have individual communities won land rights in the courts but families have benefited from improved sales of vegetables. This model is already being massively scaled up due to its success. The government has promised 12.7 million hectares of forest area for Community Based Forestry in Indonesia by 2019. This will secure the livelihoods of more than 10 million people and protect forest from destructive industrial practices.
Policy suggestion regarding forests in Indonesia
Friends of the Earth Indonesia recommends transparent and rigorous oversight of the implementation of Community Based Forestry programmes to ensure good outcomes for people and the environment. They recommend that 40 million hectares of forest should be allocated for Community Based Forest management in Indonesia by 2019.
Image: WALHI, 2015. Sago Festival in Sei Tohor, Riau.