Greenpeace Indonesia is pushing for the application of the Social Forestry Program across Papua, arguing that customary societies which have been living in harmony with forests and have depended on them for their livelihood for generations, were best suited to prevent the deforestation there.
“The protection of forests should be beneficial too for the local communities, they should not be left to be destroyed by irresponsible parties who only have their own financial interest in mind or that of their group, without caring about the negative impacts,” Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner Charles Tawaru told the Palm Scribe on Tuesday (27/3).
Speaking in a telephone interview, Tawaru said that in campaigning for preventing deforestation in Indonesia, including in Papua, Greenpeace always works together with the local communities.
“A concrete example of the collaborative form of our campaign is our participation in building a forestry approach that is based on the customary community in Manggroholo-Sira, West Papua. This approach is a concrete form showing that Greenpeace supports a forest management scheme that is based on communities, that places sovereignty in the hands of communities,” he said.
With the program of social forestry under the Village Forest scheme, the indigenous population of Manggroholo and Sira, the Knasaimo tribe, now had legal access to the management of their forests using their local wisdom. Under this scheme, the government grants the rights to manage state-owned forests to a village institution so that they can provide prosperity for the village.
Tawaru said that the Forestry Ministry has already issued a decree that accords the right to manage forests to the customary communities in South Sorong district, West Papua.
“A social Forestry scheme such as this is good for application in other customary community areas in Papua and West Papua,” he said.
According to him, this social forestry scheme needed to be applied by the government across Papua because customary communities, which have for generation relied on forests for their livelihood and have lived with them harmoniously, were the best option in protecting forests in Papua and preventing deforestation.
“Customary communities are capable of playing a role as the frontline guardians against the destruction of forests in Papua,” Tawaru added.
According to him, with the right to manage the forests, the people could now benefit from the forests in their areas while continuing to maintain the principles of sustainability.
According to the forestry ministry, the Social Forestry Program that is being pushed by the government is aimed at reducing conflicts and land imbalance, unemployment, and poverty among communities around forests.
The government has also earmarked a total of 12.7 million hectares of forest for the program. The comprise Village Forests, Community Forests, People’s Plantation Forests, Forest Partnership and Customary Forests.