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Jakarta Post

Unmapped customary land may spark clashes

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Samosir   /   Wed, August 28, 2013   /  07:57 am

Millions of hectares of customary territories in Indonesia reportedly have yet to be mapped, which could potentially spark open conflicts among communities, data shows.

According to data from Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance (AMAN), around 33 million hectares of customary land have not been mapped. AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan said that Constitutional Court decision No. 41/1999 on forestry recognized the presence of the customary forests, which were claimed as state forests and then turned into land owned by customary communities.

Abdon added that the Constitutional Court'€™s decision could serve as a basis to map out the customary areas that are prone to conflict.

'€œCurrently, around 17 million people from 2,242 traditional communities in Indonesia are fighting alongside AMAN to map out the areas,'€ said Abdon at the opening of the Global Conference on Participatory Mapping of Indigenous Territory on Samosir Island, Lake Toba, North Sumatra, on Wednesday.

The meeting was attended by some 100 participants from Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Panama, Suriname, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Abdon said that because government support had been minimal, mapping out existing customary land took a long time. He said it took AMAN 30 years to map out all the customary territories in Indonesia, adding that it aimed to complete mapping out all the areas by 2020.

National Participatory Mapping Working Network (JKPP) head Kasmita Widodo said the government had yet to own complete data on traditional community territories.

Kasmita said disputes such as those between a traditional community and PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper in Riau as well as the conflict between a traditional community in Pandumaan and Sipituhuta villages in North Sumatra and PT Toba Pulp Lestari, had continued because the government lacked official data on customary territories.

Head of Disaster Mapping and Climate Change Affairs at the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG), Sumaryono, acknowledged that Indonesia lacked official data on customary territory mapping. He said the government had received a proposal and comparable data from various customary communities to conduct customary area mappings.

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