Lampung’s new industrial forest may ‘trigger conflict’
Environmental activists in Lampung are warning private plantation company PT Garuda Panca Arta (PT GPA) not to expand into an area managed by local residents as part of its industrial-forest (HTI) project so as not to trigger a new conflict.
“The expansion will only spark conflict. Its impact could be bigger than the land dispute in Mesuji. Moreover, farmers know that PT GPA is part of the PT Sugar Group Companies, which are still embroiled in land disputes with residents,” Hendrawan, the executive director of the Lampung chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said on Monday.
Hendrawan added that thousands of residents in 10 villages in the Register 47 forest in Wayterusan, Central Lampung, were currently at risk of eviction due to the planned expansion of the program in the area.
According to Hendrawan, 4,015 families and 15,226 people have independently managed areas of the Register 47 forest, such as in Register 45 in Sungai Buaya, Mesuji, where a land dispute claimed a number of lives recently.
The residents hail from Java, Bali, South Sumatra and the province of Banten.
Hendrawan said the Central Lampung administration recently informed residents of plans to convert part of the area into an industrial forest.
“PT GPA will manage the HTI. The concept resembles that of PT Silva Inhutani, which manages a forested area in Register 45 in Sungai Buaya. The area will be planted with timber trees to supply the paper and pulp industry.
“Whereas the recommendations in the Long-term Forest Management Plan [RPJP] that was issued by the Production Forest Management Unit [KPHP] for Register 47 in 2009 did not apply the HTI pattern, but instead used the Community-based Forest [HKM] and People Plantation Forest [HTR],” Hendrawan said.
According to Hendrawan, the HTI license proposal submitted by PT GPA violated Forestry Ministerial Decree No. 256/2000.
“Technically, the rubber and sugar cane HTI proposed by PT GPA spans 13,510 hectares, whereas in fact, according to the Forestry Ministry regulation and Lampung province spatial planning plan,
Register 47 only spans 12,500 hectares. That’s why we will also be at risk of being evicted from our homes if the HTI is realized,” Hendrawan said.
Residents’ representative Made Suarte said he feared a bigger horizontal conflict compared to that in Register 45 would be inevitable if the HTI license were to be issued.
“We are the rightful residents. We pay tax and own identity cards. The 10 villages in Register 47 have been well organized like those outside the forest. Our village is equipped with worship facilities, schools, roads and other public facilities. If we are to be evicted, what will become of the thousands of families who have been living there for dozens of years?” Wayan said.
The Register 47 area is currently used by residents as farmland dominated by rubber crops on around 4,000 hectares, or 30 percent, of the total area.
Marsudianto, the legislator leading Commission II of the Central Lampung Legislative Council, expressed hope the local administration would not hastily issue a HTI license.
“Frankly, we have still been traumatized by the Mesuji conflict. We don’t want such a conflict to happen in Central Lampung. After all, the people who reside in Register 47 are our residents. Don’t let the HTI program have a negative impact on the people’s welfare.”