Wednesday, October 26, 2011

[biofuelwatch] Dayaks want to end ancestral land grab

Dayaks want to end ancestral land grab

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, 10/26/2011

Members of the Dayak Ngaju tribe in Central Kalimantan say they have lost their ancestors' land to the government, oil palm plantations and mining companies.

Representatives from four villages claimed that they have been barred from their ancestors' lands since the government's One Million Hectare Peatland Project (PLG) started in 1996.

Local residents, who lack ownership documents, said the lands were customary forests passed on from generation to generation.

"All of the programs, as well as corporate oil palm plantations and mining, have violated our rights to the land, which we inherited from previous generations," Ketunjung village resident Abdul Hamid told reporters at a press conference at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment's (Walhi) headquarters in Jakarta.

Abdul also said that the villages had lost their forests to carbon emission reduction programs, such as the government's REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) initiatives.

Community leader Siga E Saman said that the government should return their land and guarantee the rights of local residents. "We won't beg to survive any longer once we have our land back."

April Perlindungan, a representative of the Yayasan Petak Daun (YPD) environmental NGO in Central Kalimantan, said projects in the area would not preserve the environment.

"Preserving the environment is only an excuse to take over the land, which will later be made available to investors," he said.

The 1.4 million hectares of peatland forests previously run under the PLG are currently allotted to REDD+ projects, Forest Production Management Units (KPHP) and Forest Protection Management Units (KPHL), mining companies and oil palm plantations.

"The status of the land may be unclear — but it is clear that all of those activities destroy the life of the people," he said.

According to Walhi, 54,384 hectares of the forest was given to REDD+ initiatives, while eleven unlicensed oil palm companies were also operating on 351.8 hectares, Wahli alleged.

Separately, Forestry Ministry general secretary Hadi Daryanto said that the ministry created the Free Prior Information Concern (FPIC) mechanism for REDD+ projects to prioritize local concerns and avoid ownership conflicts.

"The mechanism provides a way for residents to participate in developing the forest. It also obliges the distribution of 75 percent of benefits of programs or projects to the residents. This is a solution for the customary forest issue."

Any oil palm companies convicted of illegal operation would hand over their land to the government, which would then encourage local residents to comment on the land's development through the forest village system, Hadi said.

Hadi said local residents benefitted from many government programs, including REDD+ initiatives.

"The people, for example, are taught to farm," he said.

Nurhadi, the Dayak Ngaju community leader, said that local residents did not need help from the government learn about farming or forest preservation.

"We live in the forest. We know how to protect it. Our local wisdom teaches us to respect forests," he said.


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