Forestry ministry calls for help to transfer 12.7 million hectares to communities

Social forestry schemes in Indonesia. Source: Directorate of Social Forestry and Private Forest Business Development, Ministry of Environment and Forestry


The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry has called on civil society organizations to help speed the handover of forest rights to communities.

Despite valiant efforts in the last two years to overcome the complexities of community claims over forests and the many and often contradictory regulations and bureaucratic processes, the Ministry is behind schedule to deliver on the promise of President Joko Widodo to put the right to use nearly 13 million hectares of State forest land into the hands of communities by 2019.

Realising that the challenges are too great to overcome alone, Erna Rosdiana, head of the Directorate for the Preparation of Social Forestry Area at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, invited civil society organizations (CSOs) to collaborate more closely with the Ministry to achieve at least 4 million hectares in 2018.

‘We will better coordinate CSOs so that they will become an additional tool to achieve the program’s targets for 2018 and also add more hectares’, she said at the Tenure Conference 2017: Realizing Rights: Forest and Land Tenure Reform in Indonesia, held 25–27 October in Jakarta. ‘With your support we can achieve these targets. We try to be realistic but we also push ourselves. Four-to-five million hectares is a high target so we have to work hard’.

Hadi Daryanto, director-general of Social Forestry and Environmental Partnerships at the Ministry, in his opening address said that, ‘We have 118 CSO members in our network, which is a strong argument for us that we are on the right track. We are working hard to build a system with civil society. Scandinavia is a model for us in the way they treat farming families and Japan in the redistribution of land from rich families to poor ones to increase productivity. We need strong support from society if we are to meet the target. We are working with CSOs, the press and NGOs to find the right solution for Indonesia. It has been good, productive work’.

A community forest in Kulonprogo District, Yogyakarta Province. Source: Presentation by Eri Indrawan, Deputy Director of Business Development for Partnership, Private Forest and Customary Forest at the Directorate of Social Forestry and Customary Forest Business Development, Ministry of Environment and Forestry












Rosdiana explained that the directorate receives submissions from CSOs in the field working with communities.

‘We mostly wait’, she said. ‘But we still have done a lot. All the conservation forests, for example, have been administered and we have covered some of the peatlands. We are working on the next 900,000 hectares to complete the administrative process’.

The whole process has been further complicated by the need to weed out false claims from so-called ‘free riders’ who seek to exploit the program for private gain.

‘I have seen many risks because there are many free riders,’ Rosdiana confirmed. ‘Proposals are submitted on behalf of groups but the groups are not properly informed. The president instructed that whatever we do for the benefit of the people must be well targeted so we have to carefully review each proposal’.

In an effort to speed the process and ensure fairness, the Ministry is encouraging cross-sectoral district working groups that will implement the reallocation of rights through more intimate knowledge of the applicants and conditions in their district.

‘We also need working groups because social forestry is not the ambit of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry alone but communities and other sectors,’ explained Rosdiana. ‘This is a cross-sectoral program. We cannot use the usual structure of the Ministry. We have to activate more working groups. We already have a regulation from the director-general that establishes focal points in each province and nationally. Now a total of 21 provinces have working groups. These have started collaboration. The working groups are forums where representatives meet and share ideas and look for solutions. We also provide technical-assistance staff who can facilitate the whole process. These staff send recommendations to the provincial and national levels. So the strategy is collaboration to reach our target of 4.3 million hectares by the end of 2018’.

Past and present World Agroforestry Centre staff were involved in the organization of the conference, presentations and moderation during its course and in the development of recommendations before, during and after.

ICRAF is a member of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). RRI Asia Program Associate Natalie Y. Campbell reflected on the highlights and lessons of the 2017 Tenure Conference. How much progress had been made in securing community and indigenous land rights in Indonesia since the first conference in 2011? And how much more needed to be done to fully respect these rights? Read the blog.








This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.




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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