Tanjung Selor: Residents of Long Jalan Village, Malinau District, North Kalimantan, were appreciative of the official recognition granted to their customary village and forests following the environment and forestry minister's issuance of a decree for it.
"After we handed over the environment and forestry minister's decree of the official recognition of their forests, village residents could not hide their joy from us," Warsi Sukmareni, coordinator of the Communication Department of the Indonesian Conservation Community, stated in Malinau, Tuesday.
Sukmareni noted that the ministerial decree confers forest management rights for 18,891 hectares to the Long Jalan Village, thereby being one of the largest grants among other villages that received the forest control rights.
Apart from conferring management rights, the ministerial decree sets the legal basis for forest protection within the recognised border from environmental damage or illegal intrusion from other parties.
"The ministerial decree will protect their forest management rights and shield the forest from encroachment by forestry and agriculture corporations," Sukmareni stated.
Proper forest management will ensure fulfilment of the villagers' needs along with the local customs being respected, especially for the villagers of Long Jalan, where the agarwood commodity harvested from the forest is principal to sustaining the village economy.
After securing the forest rights, the villagers can develop a forestry-based sustainable economy with the Indonesian government assistance for forest management, Sukmareni stated.
"After attaining recognition to manage their forest, we hope the villagers would protect the forest and harness natural resources for their own benefit," she affirmed.
Apart from the Long Jalan Village, the Environment and Forestry Ministry had also issued decrees of official recognition for other villages of varied forest sizes, such as Long Pada, Long Nyau, Laban Nyarit, Long Kemuat, and Long Berini, all within Malinau District.
The Indonesian Conservation Community Warsi has advocated for village rights to manage local forests in North Kalimantan since 2017 and from 2018 has assisted villagers settling village borders as a prerequisite to apply for forest rights recognition by the ministry.