West Papua gives indigenous communities control over forests
West Papua gives indigenous communities control over forests
By Vaidehi Shah Tuesday 14 March 2017
West Papua’s government has handed over more than 3,000 hectares of forest to indigenous communities, who say they intend to keep big agribusiness out, and instead harvest forest products that help them prosper without clearing forests.
In an unprecedented move for Indonesia’s Papua province, the district government on Thursday gave indigenous communities control of state forests, which grants villagers the right to reject the advances of palm oil, logging and pulpwood companies in favour of pursuing alternative, deforestation-free livelihoods.
In a ceremony performed in West Papua’s capital Teminabuan, representatives from the Province of West Papua handed over a 3,545 hectare area of rainforest to leaders from Manggroholo and Sira villages, in an area known as the Knasaimos indigenous territory.
This is the first time Indonesia’s national ‘Village Forest’ scheme, where governments hand over state forest to the control of indigenous communities, has been implemented in Papua. The programme, which gives communities rights over forest areas, has been implemented in other provinces such as Sulawesi since 2009.
The scheme in Papua will see Manggroholo and Sira villagers managing 1,695 hectares and 1,850 hectares of land respectively, for an initial lease period of 35 years.
The land under the villagers’ control sits in the wider Knasaimos indigenous territory, an 81,646 ha swathe of land in Papua that has historically been exploited by illegal loggers and is now being eyed by oil palm companies.
The move by the West Papua government comes about three years after Indonesian President Joko Widodo in 2014 promised to hand over 12.7 million hectares of forest land for community forestry uses.
Papua’s forests have also made global headlines recently when campaigners exposed the destructive practices of Korean-Indonesian conglomerate Korindo and Korean palm oil firm Posco Daewoo in the region. More recently, the Province of Papua pledged to protect 83 per cent of its land areas as natural habitat.
Manggroholo and Sira community leaders welcomed the handover of control, and said they intended to protect the forest from deforestation by logging, palm oil, and pulpwood activities.
Fredrick Sagisolo, head of the Knasaimos Tribal Council, said in a statement that “this is a victory not just for residents of Sira and Manggroholo villages, but for everyone, especially here in Papua where much forest remains”.
This is a victory not just for residents of Sira and Manggroholo villages, but for everyone, especially here in Papua where much forest remains.
Fredrick Sagisolo, head, Knasaimos Tribal Council
Illegal loggers exploited the Knasaimos landscape in the early 2000s and exported hundreds of thousands of tonnes of Merbau, a valuable timber species, which was made into luxury flooring for overseas markets. The campaign group Environmental Investigation Agency estimates that for every dollar of flooring sold, communities which collaborated with the industry to clear trees received less than half a cent.
More recently, plantation companies have also secured concession rights to clear forest within the Knasaimos landscape.
But rather than allowing their land to be developed by agribusiness, the Sira and Manggroholo villages approached environmental campaigners Greenpeace Indonesia and local NGO Bentara Papua, who have since 2008 advocated for them to have control of the land under a Forest Village scheme.
The NGOs also helped the villagers set up an indigenous association, and worked with them to develop a plan for how to use the land, analyse the forest landscape, and identify deforestation-free but profitable products that the community can harvest.
These include damar resin, which is obtained from trees of the Dipterocarpaceae species, and used to glaze or varnish products; rotan, woody stems of palm trees that are used to make cane furniture and baskets; and gaharu or agarwood, a resin that forms in some evergreen trees when they are infected with mould. It is used to make incense and perfumes.
Kiki Taufik, head of Greenpeace Indonesia’s Forests Campaign, said in a statement that Papuan forests are increasingly succumbing to the palm oil industry’s expansion, and must be protected.
“Greenpeace supports community-based forest management which recognises sovereignty is in the hands of the local people,” said Kiki. “The commitment of the Manggroholo-Sira community is an inspiration to others resisting deforestation in Papua”.
2) In a big step for indigenous rights and the environment, the gov’t has given a rainforest in Papua back to the people
By Coconuts Jakarta Mar. 14, 2017
The government of Indonesia has officially handed over control of a large swath of Papua’s rainforest to the area’s indigenous people, establishing Papua’s first Village Forest and giving the local community the power to stop the threat of deforestation from illegal logging, palm oil and pulpwood plantations.
It’s the kind of action that would’ve seemed unthinkable on the part of the government not so long ago. But in 2014, President Joko Widodo promised to give forest-dwelling communities control over 12.7 million hectares of forest estate through community forestry schemes including Village Forest areas.
The Sira-Manggroholo Village Forest is the first to begin the fulfillment of that promise in Papua.
Representatives of the Province of West Papua officially handed over Village Forest management rights of a 3,545-hectare slice of rainforest to the indigenous people of the Knasaimos landscape in West Papua’s Bird’s Head Peninsula at a ceremony last Friday.
Possession of those rights will allow the communities of Manggroholo and Sira villages, situated in South Sorong district, to protect and manage the rainforest as they see fit.
Those management rights, initially valid for 35 years, were presented to representatives of the two villages at an event in Teminabuan, the district capital. Traditional dances were performed to greet participants in the ceremony, which was attended by around sixty members of the roughly 400-strong forest community.
“This is a victory not just for we residents of Sira and Manggroholo villages, but for everyone, especially here in Papua where much forest remains. Forest protection is vital to secure the future of our communities,” said Fredrick Sagisolo, head of the Knasaimos Tribal Council, as quoted by a release from environmental NGO Greenpeace.
“Our target is to extend the right to Village Forest to every village in the Knasaimos traditional domain.”
During the 2000s, illegal loggers targeted merbau timber species in the Knasaimos area, and elsewhere in coastal Papua. Exported at a rate of 300,000 cubic meters per month from Papua to factories making luxury flooring in China, the trade earned Papuans who collaborated with the industry less than half a cent per dollar’s worth of flooring sold in the west.
Sira and Manggroholo village leaders say they have rejected recent advances from palm oil companies seeking to secure concession rights in their territories. Instead, they have been working with local NGO Bentara Papua and Greenpeace Indonesia to establish their own indigenous association to map the forests, conduct surveys, and find non-destructive ways to create products from the forest, such as resin.
“Greenpeace supports community-based forest management which recognizes sovereignty is in the hands of the local people. Papuan forests, increasingly succumbing to the expansion of oil palm, must be protected. The commitment of the Manggroholo-Sira community is an inspiration to others resisting deforestation in Papua,” said Kiki Taufik, Head of Greenpeace’s Indonesia Forests Campaign.
3) Local miners ready to operate Grasberg mine, says lawmaker
Viriya P. Singgih The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Tue, March 14, 2017 | 05:37 pm
A lawmaker has urged the government to give local mining companies the chance to manage Papua’s Grasberg mine, the world’s biggest gold mine and second-largest copper mine, if it fails to reach a settlement with PT Freeport Indonesia over a contractual dispute.
“The mine could be operated by state-owned mining firms like PT Aneka Tambang [Antam], for instance, which already has a lot of experience in the mining sector,” Mukhtar Tompo, a member of the House of Representatives Commission VII overseeing natural mineral resources and the environment, from the Hanura Party, said on Monday.
Freeport, Indonesia’s oldest foreign investor, is in a deadlock over its future operations in the country, as the government requires the company to convert its contract of work (CoW) signed in 1991 into a special mining license (IUPK) in return for an export permit extension.
(Read also: Indonesia prepares Rp 40t to acquire Freeport shares)
The subsidiary of the United States-based Freeport McMoRan has repeatedly rejected the idea of contract conversion and stated that if the dispute was prolonged, it may take the case to international arbitration, a move that many deem would be costly for both parties.
Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has also previously stated that state-owned aluminum producer PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum) was capable of managing the Grasberg mine.
“We can manage [the Grasberg mine]. We have Inalum. It is up to the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry, but we are ready,” Luhut said recently. (bbn)
4) Removal of West Papuan mural ‘clandestine’
11:52 am on 14 March 2017
An Aboriginal elder and artist says she’s upset a mural she created in support of West Papua has been destroyed but it won’t stop her, or her community, from advocating for the region’s independence cause.
Artwork by June Mills supporting the plight of West Papuans. Photo: June Mills
The art work, which was painted onto a wall in Darwin in 2015 and represents the solidarity between indigenous Australians and West Papuan people, was painted over on Sunday.
June Mills said it was not clear who was responsible for removing the mural and she’s surprised by the clandestine approach.
June Mills surrounded by supporters in front of her mural that was later painted over. Photo: June Mills
She said she was very worried about the volatile situation in West Papua and she intends to create more murals, despite the setback.
"There’s incredible violence going on as we speak. Until that is resolved, we are not going to stop bringing this to the attention of the world community…whether that’s posters, whether that’s murals, whether that’s talks, whether that’s forums, we are going to continue."
"The mural was well-loved in the Darwin community," she said.
West Papuan Friendship Mural in Darwin, Australia, being painted over. Photo: Free West Papua Campaign
5) Tito Calls for Closer Ties Between Police Forces in Asia-Pacific Region
By : Gardi Gazarin | on 6:18 PM March 13, 2017
Jakarta. Partnerships between the law enforcement agencies of Asia-Pacific countries should improve in the coming years, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said during a meeting of police commissioners of Melanesian Spearhead Group countries in Jakarta on Monday (13/03).
The meeting is aimed at exploring ways of enhancing security collaboration between the police forces of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji.
Representatives from Vanuatu and the French Territory of New Caledonia, both part of the MSG, were not present at the gathering.
"The regional partnerships of Asia-Pacific countries need to improve with a specific focus on combating transnational crimes and conducting comparative studies," Tito said.
Indonesia, as an associated member country of the MSG, is hosting this year’s gathering to help develop closer ties between regional police forces.
Tito is also scheduled to attend several bilateral meetings with the police chiefs of MSG member countries.
"The Indonesian National Police will meet with the minister of police of Papua New Guinea, the Honorable Robert Atiyafa MP and also with the minister for police, national security and correctional service of the Solomon Islands, the Honorable Peter Shanel Agovaka," Tito said.
A bilateral meeting will take place between Tito and Fiji’s commissioner of police, Brig. Gen. Sitiveni T. Qiliho on Tuesday.
The MSG meeting will focus on developing solutions to mitigate transnational crime, including terrorism, human trafficking and drug smuggling.