Jakarta (Greeners) – After decades of waiting to be acknowledged by the state, indigenous peoples in Indonesia started off 2017 with a new hope as President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo had issued Decision Letter on Customary Forest Declaration, on Friday (30/12), at the Presidential Palace.
The 13,122 hectares of customary forest covered nine indigenous peoples in the country.
“We all know that indigenous peoples have their own capabilities to manage their own customary forest based on local wisdom. Indigenous peoples have long understand and protect the harmony between human and nature. I believe these important values of which we will remember in this modern age and with the Letter, indigenous peoples can settle down and manage [their own customary forests] forever,” said President Jokowi.
Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya said the next step would be to strengthen customary forest status under Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and National Commission on Human Rights.
Furthermore, she said that the process had been dynamic and specific. Constitutional Court had declared that customary forest was under indigenous peoples and no longer considered as state forest. Currently, she said, forest areas managed by concessions holders in North Sumatra have been declining.
The government’s role is to establish interaction between indigenous peoples and following up on the regulations.
The decision should have been the foundation for the government to establish interaction between indigenous peoples and sharing information, following up on the next steps after the declaration so that the essence of the policy is that people have access to customary forest in accordance to local wisdom,” she said.
Secretary General of Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), Abdon Nababan, appreciates the policy as an historic event as indigenous peoples have been waiting for 71 years to get customary forests recognized. Furthermore, he said that the government to ensure indigenous peoples felt and acknowledged in this country, administratively,” said Nababan. “It is a bit slow but this decision should be appreciated.”
“The access to customary forest will bring benefit to indigenous peoples such as strengthening customary forest management based on local wisdom, which has been tested for many years, protect local wisdom to genetic resources, conflict resolution, domestic economic stability based on natural resources and local wisdom,” he said.
Nine customary forests declared for the first time in Indonesia by President Joko Widodo are :
Reports by Danny Kosasih