Updates from the Field: Indonesia November 2020

By: Linda Yuliani

Photo by: Riak Bumi

Despite the constraints associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, COLANDS activities have continued since mid-year in its field sites in Indonesia. There, field work, including work by local partner Riak Bumi, has involved stakeholder meetings and forums to improve local livelihoods, governance structures and support in seeking legal protection for Indigenous territories claimed as a Customary Forests.

Highlights include:

  • In May 2020, monitoring of illipe nut seedlings replanted along the banks of the Pelaik river, in the sub-Labian-Leboyan watershed, found that some seedlings had not grown well or had died. Therefore, in June 2020, the community replaced these with new seedlings.
  • In late June, the team organized a meeting with Arcia Oil, a family-run company in Pontianak (the provincial capital city of Kapuas Hulu Regency) that specializes in producing daily care products made of natural ingredients. Discussions focused on how to develop products made of tengkawang oil, to increase the economic value of tengkawang and to help producers connect with markets.
  • The team facilitated a series of community meetings in Ngaung Keruh village in June 2020 to discuss the community’s plan to obtain legal recognition for its customary forest in order to secure its Indigenous territory from large-scale plantation expansion. As part of the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) process, external resource people were invited to the meetings to provide information about the ‘Customary Forest’ and ‘Village Forest’ legal designations, including risks and benefits of each option, to inform the community’s choice. The people chose the Customary Forest legal designation and subsequently conducted the traditional Muja Menua ceremony in September 2020 to seek blessings from ancestors and the forest guardian spirits on their efforts to gain Customary Forest legal recognition. In November, the team was supporting local leaders in the initial steps towards applying for the Customary Forest designation.
  • To jointly plan activities in Seriang watershed, partner Riak Bumi conducted a series of meetings with the Environmental Service, village head and head of Badau sub-district. Similarly, in Labian-Leboyan watershed, Riak Bumi conducted meetings with the head of the government Forest Management Unit, head of Batang Lupar sub-district, and head of Labian-Leboyan community forum, in August and early September 2020.
  • A series of webinars in September and October 2020 focused on tengkawang production, marketing, related policies, and the roles of tengkawang in conservation. These events were organized by MY Transform Malaysia in collaboration with Kalimantan Tengkawang Association; Riak Bumi participated in these events as co-host, moderator and resource point.
  • The team facilitated a Labian-Leboyan sub-watershed forum on 13 November 2020 to facilitate strengthening of that institution, which had been dormant for several years; and for development of strategic planning.
  • Also in November 2020, the team has been collecting data and documents to develop questionnaires for a social network analysis.

Photo by: Riak Bumi

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