June 25, 2011
By Adianto P. Simamora
Indigenous communities in Central Kalimantan are calling on the government to stop a pilot project to alleviate the destruction of forests amid fears that it would prompt conflicts between local communities.
People living in and around forested areas in the province said they were not adequately informed about the plan and thus confused about Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or REDD Plus.
The Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) said some local communities living near forests learned that the REDD Plus pilot project in the area would possibly conflict with their ability to access customary forests. Another group welcomed the project, hoping it would bring in money.
AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan told The Jakarta Post that in order to respond to the differing opinions on REDD Plus, various
indigenous groups from 11 regen-cies in Central Kalimantan held a meeting.
They agreed that the government must halt the REDD Plus pilot project in the province until it provided adequate information about the project to local communities.
“Free, prior and informed consent as the main principle of REDD has been completely ignored,” AMAN Central Kalimantan chapter head Wisma Soverdi said.
AMAN submitted its letter on the proposed REDD moratorium in Central Kalimantan to Presi-
dent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the presidential task force on REDD and the Forestry Ministry, among others.
AMAN, the country’s largest indigenous people’s group, has 1,163 communities as members that occupy 7.5 million hectares of land across the country.
The government selected Central Kalimantan as a pilot area for a two-year REDD Plus plan funded
in cooperation with Norway’s government.
As a pilot project, the Central Kalimantan administration has to halt issuing new permits to convert
primary forests and peatland for business purposes.
Since then, Central Kalimantan has been in the global spotlight, attracting new investors to develop forest-related projects such as REDD and ecosystem restoration.
A number of foreign countries such as Australia and Norway have invested in REDD projects in the province. International organizations like the Clinton Foundation, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Care International, Flora and Fauna International (FFI) and the Wetland and Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS) also developed projects there.
On a recent field trip to Central Kalimantan, the Post found that residents of Pulau Pisang village in the province’s capital of Palangkaraya had no idea about REDD. When they were told by village leaders to bring handicrafts, they thought it would be for a cultural bazaar, not the REDD project.