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A way forward for Indonesian customary forests and timber management

A way forward for Indonesian customary forests and timber management 

Supporting customary and indigenous groups to manage the forests they depend on helps reduce deforestation in tropical countries, recent research suggests.


Discussion with the ninik mamak, or customary heads, of the Padang Hilalang customary community in West Sumatra, Indonesia by Pandong Spenra, KARSA


With Indonesian civil society organisation KARSA, the EU REDD Facility has researched options for integrating customary forests into Indonesia’s national timber legality assurance system (the SVLK). The study findings highlight gaps between current timber harvesting and trading practices by customary groups, and existing regulations on timber use and administration.

In a new blog on a way forward for customary forests and timber management in Indonesia, authors Satrio A. Wicaksono and Paramita L. Iswari describe potential paths to legal and sustainable production and trade of timber from customary forests. They make the case that along with steps to safeguard against misuse of customary forests for illegal timber, equity for customary groups can be advanced.

A case in point is the Padang Hilalang customary community in Indonesia’s West Sumatra Province, which has traditionally managed some 20 000 hectares of forest near their settlement. Here, as in other customary areas, the community does not have full rights to legally harvest, sell or transport timber. For them, the opportunity to harvest timber would represent the right to manage their own forests.