Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Expanding land rights to boost growth, cut emissions

Amantha Perera in IPS: Indonesia has assumed a target to cut greenhouse gas emission rates by half and achieve an economic growth rate of seven percent by changing the way it manages its vast forest land, and giving greater control over land to local communities.

"We may at this juncture start hearing the term Community Managed Forest which is a more comprehensive concept," Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, from Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s special delivery unit, told a high-level international conference on forestry held in Lombok, 1060 km south of Jakarta.

At the conference the Indonesian government announced the new allocation of 89,000 hectares for community-managed forest areas. "Some say that we need more land allocated for this purpose, I see that as a step in the right direction," Mangkusubroto said.

The policy change towards community control of land is a major shift for a government that is still the largest owner of land. Of the 190 million hectares of land in the country, the Indonesian government controls 133 million hectares, or 70 percent.

Experts say that the government control of land is a colonial legacy, when the centre began to exert control over indigenous populations. "This is our chance to untangle our convoluted past and make a lasting difference," Mangkusubroto said.

"The state remains the predominant actor in the region’s forests, but the trend toward local control now emerging is incredibly important," said Andy White, coordinator for Rights and Resources Initiative, a U.S.-based land tenure advocacy body....

Between 1890 and 1905, a chopped forest and drainage canal under construction at a tobacco plantation in what is now Indonesia, from the Tropenmuseum Collection

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