Local Initiatives to Return Communities' Control Over Forest Lands in Indonesia: Conversion or Occupation?

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"The general objective of this paper is to describe a certain tendencies in changing forest landscapes, from 'forests' into 'agriculture' areas. This paper will revisit two relevant cases. The first case is concerned with the conversion of 'forest' areas into palm-oil plantations in East Kalimantan and how local people are reacting to it. The second case is the conversion of 'forest' areas into agricultural lands as a result of land occupations by local people, who have lived in surrounding areas but have never gotten benefits from the forest. This last case takes place in Ciamis, West Java, which is particularly surrounded by forests that have been managed by Perum Perhutani (a state-owned forest enterprise). "To provide a background to the two cases, we briefly discuss some tendencies in forestry and land tenure in Indonesia, especially before and after political reformation (1998), followed by the implementation of regional autonomy (2001). Therefore, structurally the paper begins with description about the development of Indonesian forestry and land tenure politics during the last three decades, especially throughout the New Order regime (1967-1998). These historical dynamics were later affected by political reform beginning in 1998, and the Regional Autonomy era which followed starting in 2001. All of these factors have led to the shift in paradigm from 'state-based' resource management to 'community based' natural resource management, which will be described shortly. These two cases, concerning forest conversions in Pasir, E. Kalimantan and land occupations in Ciamis, W. Java, were drawn into the paper in order to figure out the real-life field phenomena of 'decentralization euphoria'. To complete the discussion, analysis of these phenomena in relation with theories of agrarian/forestry land reform has been added. The existing pages of this paper are limited, and therefore will not be able to cover the whole complicated forestry/land tenure problems in Indonesia. At the end, lessons-learned which are derived from both cases will be outlined in more detail in order to gain future possibly useful perspectives on forest land reform for the country."
IASC, community forestry--case studies, landscape change--case studies, land tenure and use