Indonesia, known by the official name of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, consists of more than 17.000 islands. It is ranked second as the country with the most level of biodiversity, second to Brazil.
However, the rapid change of industrialization has created several environmental problems regarding Indonesian forestry, especially in West Papua Province. The province has 30% out of 100% of the total forest in Indonesia. The national and local governments issued the necessary forest policy to avoid further environmental problems.
Indonesia has three types of forests according to the Forestry Law of 1999. They are Conservation Forests, Protection Forests, and Production Forests. Each type of forest serves a purpose similar to its name.
For the last few years, however, the country has lost a large number of forests, around millions of hectares, which these forests are not included in the Production Forest type. The leading cause is rampant deforestation, illegal logging, large-scale conversions, farming, and settlement.
Protecting forests is imperative in West Papua because some local communities still rely heavily on natural products from forests as a means of nutrition.
The local people also want to preserve as many forests as possible and prevent excessive deforestation from damaging the habitat of endemic flora and fauna. So, what are the measures of the people and government in protecting West Papua forests?
West Papua’s Movement and Forest Policy
West Papua Province has become the first conversational province in the world. Since 2015, the Conservation Province has aimed to protect, preserve, and sustain the forest assets or products for the next generations. The local government has put an elaborate plan and commitment to guarantee the preservation of the forests’ natural products, forest areas, and endemic flora and fauna.
This forest policy is essential to ensure the well-being and prosperity of the West Papuan people. As such, the conservational province wants to protect the customary rights of the local people to access natural resources. Thus, the government prioritizes establishing a vast network of Marine Protected Areas or Kawasan Konservasi Laut (KKL) and restricting deforestation.
A Planned Deforestation
Deforestation, also known as forest clearance, is the purposeful removal of forest products, such as trees, for the area to be used as agricultural croplands, settlements, or mining activities.
Deforestation has destructive effects on the area’s biodiversity and natural ecosystem. Indonesia has created a planned deforestation policy in West Papua to prevent this severe loss.
However, the policy has not successfully reduced the number of deforestation in the province. One of the main reasons is the conflict between the regional forestry law and sectoral regulations. It makes the policy doubtful and creates forest management instability.
Thus, the national, regional, and sectoral actors and the local community must clear this lack of clarity concerning the use of law in West Papua forest areas.
Indonesia’s Social Forestry Program
The Social Forestry Program in Indonesia means to respect the customary rights of the indigenous community living near the forests. Around 12,7 million hectares of forests have been selected to be under the management of the local community. There are five types of permits given to the locals.
They are Hutan Desa (Village Forest), Hutan Kemasyarakatan (Community-based Forestry), Hutan Tanaman Rakyat (Community-based Timber Plantation), Hutan Adat (Customary Forest), and Kemitraan Hutan (Forestry Partnership Land).
Through this program, the government wishes for the locals to be responsible for sustainable forest management, conservation, and restoration. The government has provided funding to support the program’s success.
Establishing the necessary forest policy is crucial to preserve the forests and living species’ natural habitat. The national and regional governments have implemented several policies to protect the tropical forest in the province.