NGO maps out indigenous community territories


Rahmat Sulaiman, information and documentation manager with the Community Mapping Network (JKPP), sat facing his laptop at his office in Bogor. He clicked his mouse, and a map of Indonesia appeared on his screen.

Another click and small red-lined areas emerged on Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Papua and Java. He clicked again and an overlay of mining concession areas covered the red-lined areas.

A final click brought another overlay showing oil palm plantation concessions. The red-lines marked the territory of mapped indigenous communities in Indonesia.

The map, which shows how business concessions overlap with customary land belonging to indigenous communities, can be accessed at

A group of NGOs — the JKPP; the community and ecological-based Society for Legal Reform (HuMa); Sawit Watch; the Consortium for Agrarian Reform (KPA); the Consortium in Support of a Community Forest System (KpSHK); and the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) — established the website to document and track land conflicts in Indonesia.

As of now, around 222 reports of land conflicts have been documented on the Geodata website. JKPP advocacy and campaigns officer Ade Cholik Mutaqin said the reports were compiled from data from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) and other NGOs. Most of the conflicts are between indigenous communities and businesses and/or government.

The resource-rich Kalimantan contributed the highest number of land conflicts. According to data from Walhi’s East Kalimantan branch, following the enactment of the Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI) in 2011, some 135 communities became involved in conflict with businesses. Most of the land conflicts, according to Walhi, involved palm oil plantations, followed by logging and mining firms.

Maps of indigenous communities are provided by the JKPP, which as of now has mapped 3.9 million hectares of customary land. Ade said the JKPP used a participatory method of mapping, in which the whole community held a consultation to agree to have their area mapped out. Information of the borders of customary lands were passed on mainly through storytelling from one generation to another, Ade said.

Given the absence of a national mechanism to identify and map out territory belonging to indigenous communities, AMAN, the JKPP and several other NGOs have set up the Ancestral Domain Registration Agency (BRWA) to allow indigenous communities to register their ancestral domains.

Ade said the idea behind the BRWA was to provide a map of customary land. “We wanted to be prepared for the court ruling. If it [the Constitutional Court] ruled that customary forests belonged to indigenous peoples, we wanted to be able to show where those customary forests were located,” he said.

— JP/Prodita Sabarini


The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Mon, June 24 2013

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