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Jakarta Post

Customary land included in one-map policy

  • Hans Nicholas Jong

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, August 21, 2015   /  02:53 pm

Following the disbandment of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) agency, concerns are mounting over whether customary lands that belong to indigenous people can be incorporated into the government'€™s policy to produce a single, integrated map depicting various political and economic features covering the entire country, known as the one-map policy.

As of now, the maps of indigenous communities have not been incorporated into the single map, the policy for which was officially implemented at the end of 2014 to resolve disagreements resulting from the use of different data and maps that often caused land disputes and overlapping permits in plantation and mining operations.

'€œThere needs to be further discussion [to see whether the participatory map could be incorporated] because we don'€™t know how they draw the map, or their methods,'€ the head of the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG), Priyadi Kardono, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. '€œWe'€™re afraid that if the map is considered legal and could be used by anyone, BIG will get [into trouble].'€

Since 2010, indigenous peoples have been mapping their customary lands across the country in an effort to gain recognition amid conflicts with the government and business communities over land ownership.

Given the absence of a national mechanism to identify and map out territory belonging to indigenous communities, the Community Mapping Network (JKPP) and several other NGOs have set up the Ancestral Domain Registration Agency (BRWA).

The Alliance of Indigenous People (AMAN) estimated that indigenous people had traditionally occupied about 40 million hectares of land, most natural forest.

Yet, the community mapping has struggled to get recognition from the government as there is no government agency that serves as the data custodian of the indigenous maps. A data custodian is responsible for any claim and verification of the map.

Last year, the REDD+ agency decided to become a temporary data custodian for the map encompassing 4.8 million hectares of land, 80 of which are forest area.

But since the REDD+ agency was dissolved by President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo in early 2015, the future of the map has become uncertain once again.

'€œThe readiness of the REDD+ agency has to be captured by BIG, but it seems BIG doesn'€™t see it as a priority despite the Nawacita saying the need to acknowledge indigenous land rights. Why do they prioritize one map for ecosystems instead of indigenous people who are everywhere and manage diverse natural resources?'€ National Forestry Council (DKN) member Martua Sirait said on Thursday.

He said that the BIG had failed to consider claims from people in mapping out the country, which often lead to discriminatory spatial planning that neglects the rights of indigenous people. '€œHow can spatial planning be participative if the data is not participative, only based on the state'€™s claim?'€ said Martua.

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