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Protecting the Environment and Indigenous People Needs Legal Certainty



Protecting the Environment and Indigenous People Needs Legal Certainty

PalmOilMagazine, JAKARTA – In the commemoration of Earth Day in this week, the environmental activists took the people of Indonesia to appreciate the indigenous people as the closest group to the nature that run sustainable principles and practice in conservation. One appreciation is to assure the legal certainty from the country so that they could optimally do their roles, which is, to keep the world lungs running well.

Until now, there are various terms and definition used to describe the indigenous people, both by the government, non-government organizations, and international institutions. But one thing for sure, it is the group which is very close to the nature, does conserve the nature in their daily life.

Komunitas Konservasi Indonesia Warsi (KKI Warsi) is one institution that develops the indigenous and local people since 1991. “As a matter of fact, our indigenous people still have local wisdom which is adjustable and interacting with the nature. But they are in minor numbers. Though it seems to be passive, actually everything they need is fulfilled sustainably though they are not in fancy life like the common people. They have massive impacts to maintain our earth for the bigger interests,” Executive Director of KKI Warsi, Rudi Syaf said, as in the official statement to PalmOilMagazine

About the legal, he also told that though the country does not admit them, many indigenous people groups in and around the forests treat the forests as important parts for their life both in social, economy, culture, and religion according to the wisdom that their ancestors inherited since tens of years ago.

Program Coordinator of KKI Warsi, Riche Rahma Dewita in her daily duties is also involved in developing indigenous people. She said that the indigenous people conduct indigenous law and local wisdom to conserve natural resources and maintain their ethnic identity for generations.

“To run the indigenous legal system and wisdom to manage and use natural resources, they need guarantee from the country so that they could do their daily activity peacefully,” she said.

KKI-Warsi itself helped some indigenous villages to get confession and guarantee from the regional governments to manage and cultivate the forests. Two of them are Village of Guguk dan Marga Serampas  in Village of Rantau Kermas, District of Merangin, Jambi Province. Village of Guguk fought for that their indigenous forests could always be maintained as the water conservation source while Village of Rantau Kermas wants to maintain the indigenous forests where they are next to Kerinci Seblat National Park or Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat (TNKS).

It was taking some time that villagers of Guguk struggled for getting the guarantee to cultivate indigenous forests from local and central government. In the beginning, the forests they want to maintain are right behind their circumstance. The areas are the sources of water and animals that the villagers respect. But all of a sudden, hak pengusaha hutan (HPK) came up from nowhere which hit the forests where they cultivate. They really concern about it.

“KKI-Warsi involved as the conflict mediator between the villagers of Guguk and the company having HPH. In the end, the indigenous cultivation rights covering 690 hectares are admitted by the Decision of Regent of Bupati Merangin No.287 / 2003. In 2018, the legal certainty got stronger after Minister of Environment and Forestry published the Decision,” Rudi said.

He also mentioned that since the local and central government confessed their indigenous forests, the villagers cultivate and maintain the areas well. They conduct indigenous legal for those who forbid, for instance, anyone who cut off the trees would be fined by scarifying one buffalo as their food to be eaten together. It means, the forest conservation remains well.

Legal expert in agrarian affairs of Universitas Gadja Mada, Rikardo Simarmata, told that it is important to guarantee the area or forest cultivation both by personal and cultivation rights, such as, social forest. “The indigenous people need access so that their cultivation would remain well and others could not take or manage it in any time,” Simarmata said. (T2)


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