protected forest

Land rights and forest ownership

Sheryl raised two interesting points in her comment on the illegal farming: 1) “I’m sure the farmers knew they were on reserve land” We are pretty sure they did too as, in this part of the world, the Reserve is where the trees are! However, this is almost impossible to prove and, even knowing it is a conservation area, won’t necessarily stop the villagers from laying a claim to the land.

Slah and Burn 2

Slash and burn is commonly used to clear the forest.

Slash and Burn

Illegal settlement in cleared forest.

Secondly, Sheryl wrote “don’t people have to own the land or have permits from landowners to burn forest and start a farm? I mean, here I couldn’t just drive out to the country and start farming!” Bizarrely, Indonesian laws concerning community use of forest lands still end up promoting forest clearance. If you clear the land it is deemed an improvement. Anyone who improves the land has de-facto usage rights to it. And those rights are passed down from generation to generation. I have been in some very old secondary forest only to be told this is “Mr so and so’s land…”

In the case of the illegal farms, our only weapon is that the farm was clearly established after the Reserve was gazetted. It is illegal.

Kind regards,