Rapid Land Tenure Assessment adopted by the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry

With conflict over land rights in around 18,000 villages in Indonesia, tenure is a major barrier to social, environmental and economic welfare. The Ministry of Forestry has taken a major step towards reducing conflict by adopting Rapid Land Tenure Assessment in their curriculum, say Ujjwal Pradhan, Martua Sirait and Emila Widawati



The Forestry Education, Training and Extension Centre (Pusat Pendidikan, Latihan dan Penyuluhan Kehutanan/Pusdiklatluh) of Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry adopted the World Agroforestry Centre’s Rapid Land Tenure Assessment (RaTA) tool guidelines on 14 February 2014 as part of its formal curriculum.

The syllabus certifies 54 hours of training in RaTA for all forest managers in the nation to help them better understand and handle conflicts over land tenure. The adoption represents a substantial success in the ten-year-long process pursued by the World Agroforestry Centre to promote the use of scientific evidence to better manage forests and neighbouring land and improve understanding of land and resource rights.

STATE FOREST AREA Let us prevent work, encroachment, use, occupation, logging, burning and hunting without a license in this area. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

Let us prevent work, encroachment, use, occupation, logging, burning and hunting without a license in this area. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

The process started formally in 2003, with a study by the Centre that showed that uncertainty over forest tenure—who exactly had management rights or ownership with what responsibilities—was a major obstacle to implementing sustainable forest management. This had enormous repercussions given that around 70% of the nation’s land area is under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Law but only some 14% of forest boundaries are actually delineated and gazetted, leaving governments, communities and private companies at loggerheads about who has the right to do what, where.

The situation had been further complicated by the many, often contradictory or overlapping, state policies, rules and regulations applicable by different levels of government that have some authority in relation to land tenure. At the same time, local regulations and informal and customary laws were also applied through a range of traditional structures that have been operating, in many cases, for hundreds of years. All of this has to be fully understood before the reasons for conflict, and potential resolution, over any piece of land could become clear.

In 2006, to try and address this complex and frustrating situation, the World Agroforestry Centre and its partners developed a method to rapidly assess land tenure in any particular landscapewithin the legal pluralism and political economy that operates in Indonesia.After an initial development period, in 2008 in collaboration with the Working Group on Forest Land Tenure, which is a multi-stakeholder task force established by the Ministry of Forestry to better understand forest tenure and conflicts, the Centre began a series of training courses in RaTA with academics, local government officials, NGO staff and civil societies and smallholders. One important outcome from this was that in 2011 RaTA was adopted by the National Forestry Council (Dewan Kehutanan Nasional/DKN) to help in mediation.

Most recently, during 5–9 May 2014, customary leaders, local and village governments, staff from the Forestry Management Unit (Kesatuan Pengelolan Hutan) and representatives from NGOs, participated in the ninth Land Tenure Assessment Tools Training in Putussibau in West Kalimantan province. The event was initiated by the Working Group on Forest Land Tenure in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Centre, Society for Community-based Legal Reform and Ecology (Perkumpulan untuk Pembaharuan Hukum Berbasis Masyarakat dan Ekologis/HuMa), Samdhana Institute and SAINS (Sayogyo Institute) with support from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit through the Forest Governance Program and Forests and Climate Change Program. The participants were trained in the methodologies and tools for collecting preliminary information and mapping conflicts in forest areas.

Particularly important trainees were residents from five villages located in the area where the Forestry Management Unit of Kapuas Hulu operates, namely, Pulau Manak, Padua, Setulang, Tanjung Lasa and Sadap. The residents shared their experience with existing conflicts over the forest and administrative borders of their villages and customary territories.

Case studies were presented that helped the participants understand how to use the assessment tools, which included not only RaTA but also Conflict-Type Analysis (Analisis Gaya Bersengketa/AGATA) that had been developed by Samdhana Institute, the HuMA-Win conflict-documentation software developed by HuMa and gender analysis, a part of a social analysis methodology developed by SAINS. The participants strengthened their understanding of land-tenure analysis through field practice in Tanjung Lasa and Nanga Potan villages.

As a follow-up to the training, assessment and data collection in the participating villages will be undertaken later this year by the Working Group on Forest Land Tenure and the now-qualified former trainees as assessors. The team will present the assessment results to district and national policy makers to add to the increasingly clearer picture of tenurial issues that RaTA has begun to paint.


Read about RaTA

Galudra G, Sirait MT, Pasya G, Fay CC, Suyanto, van Noordwijk M, Pradhan U. 2010. RaTA: A Rapid Land Tenure Assessment manual for identifying the nature of land tenure conflicts. Bogor, Indonesia: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program.


Read the Ministry of Forestry ruling on the RaTA syllabus (in Indonesian)

Kementrian Kehutanan. 2014. Keputusan kepala pusat pendidikan dan pelatihan kehutanan no. SK 35/Dik-2/2014 tentang kurikulum dan silabus diklat pemetaan konflik. Decision by the head of education and training forestry centre no. SK 35/Dik-2/2014 about training curriculum and syllabus for mapping conflicts. Jakarta: Government of Indonesia.


Watch a photo-essay of the RaTA Training in Putussibau

Working Group on Forest Land Tenure. 2014. Pelatihan perangkat analisis land tenure di Putussibau 5–9 Mei [Video] Bogor, Indonesia: Working Group on Forest Land Tenure.


Contact the authors

Ujjwal Pradhan is the regional coordinator of the World Agroforestry Centre Southeast Asia.

Martua Sirait is a senior researcher with the World Agroforestry Centre Indonesia.

Emila Widawati is director of the Working Group on Forest Land Tenure




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This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry




Rob Finlayson

Robert Finlayson is the Southeast Asia program's regional communications specialist. As well as writing stories for the Centre's website, he devises and supervises strategies for projects and the countries in the Southeast Asia region, including scripting and producing videos, supervising editors and translators and also assisting with resource mobilization.

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