Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Govt To Define Boundaries For Park Use

Govt To Define Boundaries For Park Use

Source: The Jakarta Post – April 28, 2010

By Adianto P. Simamora

The government is set to demarcate areas where native communities living inside national parks can earn their income in response to incidents of conflicts over land between the state and local communities. The zoning system would give local communities rights to utilize the land, a ministry official said in a seminar on conservation parks on Tuesday.

"However, they will be given ownership rights of the land," Wiratno from the Forestry Ministry said, adding that granting ownership rights would only accelerate forest destruction. The seminar heard that residents living for generations in East Kalimantan's Kutai National Park, for example, had sought ownership of the land, a move they claimed was the best solution to creating a successful conservation program.

Teluk Pandan subdistrict secretary Nirwan Rais said residents forced the subdistrict to issue letters acknowledging their ownership of their land. "Residents living in three villages inside Kutai National Park are seeking legal rights to the land," he said. There are around 7,000 people living in the vicinity of Kutai National Park. They pay annual fees to the government. The 200,000-hectare Kutai National Park was established in 1982 during the World Congress on National Parks in Bali.

A resident of Malo in East Nusa Tenggara, Nifron Ba'un, criticized the government's conservation methods. He said the Mount Mutis Nature Reservation conservation program failed to benefit local communities. "I am a victim of the conservation program, which has barred us from grazing our cows and horses there, a practice many people living in the Mt. Mutis area have done for generations," he said.

The communities said the government's conservation policies tended to limit their potential income. Indonesia has 51 national parks covering 16 million hectares. The 1990 Conservation Law stipulates that conservation programs be applied in wildlife preservation areas, nature preservation areas and national parks. The 1999 Forestry Law says the regulation on conservation was the authority of the central government, although most of the conservation areas are located in provinces or regencies.

Wiratno said that between 10 and 15 percent of conservation areas had been damaged due to an increase in human activity, ranging from illegal logging to massive land use changes for settlements. In Sumatra, 5 hectares of Leuser National Park was illegally converted for palm oil plantations, he said. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) senior associate for forest and governance Moira Moeliono agreed with the government view that granting ownership rights to local communities could trigger land grabs since many conservation areas were rich in mineral deposits. "There is a need for special zones but the government must make it clear which people would be eligible to manage the area," she said. She said that people living in national parks should also be involved in the joint management of conservation areas.