This working paper presents the status of forest tenure in contemporary Indonesia; it explores how forest tenure reforms emerge and the options for formal approaches to securing customary rights in Indonesia. It also presents an overview and analysis of Indonesia's legal and institutional framework for tenure reform.
Forest tenure reforms in Indonesia have evolved through dynamic, interactive, collaborative processes that have involved both State and non-State institutions. Both the processes and the products (such as policies and programs) of forest tenure reforms in Indonesia, such as the 1999 reforms that resulted in social forestry schemes, have not been effectively implemented in Indonesia due to the: onerous process of obtaining a permit; lack of direction and motivation of staff within implementing agencies in supporting social forestry; limited capacity and resources among both communities and implementing agencies to comply with the technical requirements to process the permit; and macro-level economic prioritization of extractive activities that concentrate benefits in the corporate sector. Moreover, women and marginal members of indigenous peoples and local communities have been largely left out.
However, recent developments such as Constitutional Court Ruling No. 35/2012 defined land and forests within customary territories as private entities, and not State land and forests. Furthermore, recent government initiatives for recognizing existing agroforestry practices within kawasan hutan by granting land title or bringing them under social forestry schemes are important developments that can help to resolve conflicts. Finally, the government's ambitious target of bringing 12.7 million ha of State forest area under community management, deregulation of some of the steps for obtaining a social forestry permit and the involvement of non-State actors in tenure reform processes have the potential to further strengthen local people's rights and security over land and forests, if properly supported and implemented.