Indonesian president hands over management of forests to Indigenous Peoples


Andi Buyung Saputra, Kajang leader, left, with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, right. In a fresh start in customary forest recognition by the State, President Joko Widodo bestows the right to manage customary forests on nine indigenous communities. Photo credit: ICRAF

Indonesia – Indonesia has had a long history of conflict over control of its massive areas of tropical forests that are spread across the many thousands of islands that make up the archipelagic nation. Declaration under former Dutch colonial rule of state ownership of all forests was rarely accepted by the millions of people who lived in them and who had managed them sustainably for centuries.

Widodo’s recent formal handover of titles is a highly symbolic step in the long fight for recognition by indigenous communities, whose customary rights remained contested by the new nationalist government after independence in 1945 despite being enshrined in the founding constitution. The islands now known as Indonesia have long been home to thousands of distinct ethnic groups with their own languages, customs and identity.

“The recognition of customary management of forests is not restricted to the acknowledgment of communities’ rights as stated in the 1945 Constitution. Recognition also means an appreciation of Indonesia’s original values and its identity as a nation,” said Widodo in his opening speech at the Declaration of Recognition of Indigenous Forests event held at the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 30 December 2016. – Forest News | For full article, click here