Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New studies suggest lack of meaningful land rights threaten Indonesian forests

EurekAlert: New research released today at a high-level forestry conference in Indonesia—opened by Vice President Boediono—suggests that Asia’s largest forest nation is paying a high price for failing to give local communities enforceable rights to contested forests, causing significant economic losses owing to its highly undervalued forestland, and leading it to lose out to regional competitors.

“There is ample evidence that communities are reliable managers of natural resources and forests, yet for some reason Indonesia has yet to embrace the concept of local tenure rights with any seriousness,” said Dominic Elson, an independent consultant for Trevaylor Consulting. “Until addressed, it will be hard to make more than token progress on the pressing issues facing the land use sector, such as deforestation, conflict and misguided investments that undermine development. This will not only have poor outcomes for the forests, biodiversity and climate change – it will also have profound implications for the economy and long-term social development.”

Elson’s paper is one of several presented this week in Lombok by the Rights and Resources Initiative, at a major international forestry conference co-organized by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and RRI

….Previous research by RRI and others has shown that where Indigenous Peoples and forest communities are given control of forestlands, they are better stewards than governments. A study released on Wednesday by RRI confirms this finding, suggesting that granting greater control to local forest communities has been a vital element in the turn-around accomplished by China, South Korea, Vietnam and India, which in the last 20 years have had significant success with restoring vast areas of forest….

Kubu people in a cabin in the woods in the Upper Tebo, April 1921 photo by Tassilo Adam

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