Tenure Security and Oil Palm Expansion on Customary Lands in Indonesia, Case Study in West Kalimantan

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"This document presents an empirical study on the consequences of the lease of customary lands to an oil palm company on the tenure security of the local Iban communities, at the community and the individual level, in four villages in the Kapuas Hulu regency of West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Eighty-eight semi-structured interviews with randomly selected family-heads, their spouse and several key-informants showed that the promise of the company to give back 20% of their harvest to the villagers convinced most villagers to hand over part of their lands in 2008 and 2009. Only one village refused the arrangement and was in conflict with the oil palm company. The decision-making process to allow the company to use customary lands was based on consensus and involved the participation of all household heads, although the community leaders probably played an important role by their strong influence on the other villagers. Women and young people appeared as not being consulted. While most villagers had a perception of high tenure security, I found that their land rights could be threatened by the incomplete recognition of customary institutions by the government, unclear regulations and the concentration of the information and key-documents by the local elite. A cooperative regrouping the people owning land inside the oil palm plantations is the interface between them and the company and will be responsible to distribute the benefits from the oil palm plantation to the owners. This new institution will probably play a key-role in ensuring the respect of the villagers’ land rights and the degree of control they will be able to exercise on this cooperative is a crucial issue."



land tenure and use, plantations