Half Hearted Recognition - A Study on Customary Forest Concession License in Papua

The Indonesian NGOs Auriga, Jerat Papua (Papuan Peoples' Network) and ELSAM (Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy) have published a new report on Customary Forest Concession License (IUPHHK-MHA) and its implementation in the Indonesian Provinces of Papua and Papua Barat. The report describes the latest condition of forest management policy faced by the Papuan indigenous peoples and the competition between the central government and Papua regional administrations resulting from the regulation over forest management. This competition is found in the implementation of forest and indigenous peoples-related laws and regulations.


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On the ground, such competition is counterproductive to forest and indigenous peoples. Illegal loggers can claim that the timber they harvest is from indigenous peoples’ forest in order to cover up their unlawful activities (Koalisi Anti Mafia Hutan, 2017). On the other hand, customary forests controlled by indigenous peoples are getting smaller in size as they become claimed by large concessions authorised by the central government. By the end of 2017, the total area of Business Permit for Forest Timber Utilisation in Natural Forest (IUPHHK-HA—also known as HPH) and Industrial Forest Permit (IUPHHK-HTI—also known as HTI) concessions in Papua Island (Papua and West Papua provinces) reached at least 5,596,838 hectares (ha) and 524,675 ha. Other than forest products utilisation permit, there is also the forest area release license granted only to corporations. There is no single permit, however, that has been issued by the central government to Papuan indigenous peoples to date. Nevertheless, the Papua Provincial Government has issued 18 IUPHHK-MHA permits for a total area of 78,040 ha (see Diagram 1), but they remain inoperative due to obstacles at the central government.

One of the solutions that the central government (Ministry of Environmental and Forestry) proposes is the establishment of the Norm, Standard, Procedure and Criteria (NSPK) for the issuance of IUPHHK-HA concessions in production forest areas in Papua. This is an idea worth criticizing as it puts the IUPHHK-MHA and Forest Concession Rights (HPH) at the same position. Still, the Papua Provincial Government and stakeholders are trying to accommodate that idea, although the Forestry Ministry is yet to authorise the draft NSPK.

As a matter of fact, according to a series of investigations by the Anti Forest-Mafia Coalition, whose report will be published at a later date, illegal logging activities are rampant in this province and most of the extracted timber is believed to be sourced from indigenous peoples’ territories. This condition is worsened by the ineffective monitoring by the regional governments due to the existance of Law No. 23/2014 in conjunction with Law No. 9/2015 on Regional Government (Regional Government Law) that transfers forestry authority of the regency administration to the provincial government.

With such description, this report focuses on the abovementioned problems and offers potential solutions to all stakeholders. Other than materials from secondary documents, this report is also based on primary sources including interviews with relevant informants and direct field observations.

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