26 Oct 2021

Customary land rights recognised in West Papua district

5:53 pm on 26 October 2021

An environmental NGO has hailed a West Papua district head's decision to recognise customary land rights.

The head of Sorong Regency, Johnny Kamuru, has issued a decree on recognising rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Gelek Malak Kalawilis Pasa over land and forest in Sayosa sub district.

The 3,47-hectare land was being targetted by oil palm producers, who Greenpeace Indonesia's Kiki Taufik, said have been empowered by recent law changes that undermine customary rights.

An Indonesian forest cleared to plant oil palm trees, 19 May 2017.

An Indonesian forest cleared to plant oil palm trees, 19 May 2017. Photo: AFP

Greenpeace said the Indonesian government is generally unwilling to enforce laws to stop deforestation on public lands or follow through on its climate commitments.

"The recent enactment of Indonesia's Omnibus Bill will jeopardise and put the republic's environment and social protections at risk," according to Greenpeace Indonesia.

It said standards of laws and regulations for the protection will be weakened and will bring Indonesian environmental and social safeguards even further than the generally accepted global standards in financing sustainable development.

In a new report, Greenpeace said Indonesia's national forest estate is riddled with illegal palm oil plantations, according to an analysis by Greenpeace Indonesia and Treemap.

Despite the designated area being off-limits to plantations, the analysis has found at least 600 plantation companies have illegal operations set up inside the forest estate, which includes National Parks, Ramsar Convention wetlands and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

These land areas represent some of the highest levels of biodiversity and are critical in tackling the climate crisis.