23 Thousand People Signed Petition for Indigenous People’s Benzoin Forest to be Saved, KLHK PKTHA Director: Natural Forests Must Be Protected

Jakarta, Thursday, March 24, 2022 – The Indigenous Peoples of Pargamanan Bintang Maria submitted a petition to the Director of Conflict Management, Tenure and Customary Forests of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Muhammad Said on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

In the petition on the Change.org platform and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which has been supported by more than 23,000 people, the Indigenous Peoples of Pargamanan ask for the Ministry’s assistance to save the Frankincense Forest that enters their territory from the company’s threats. The trick is to recognize the Pargamanan-Bintang Maria Forest as a Customary Forest.

One of the petitioners who is a member of the Pargamanan Bintang Maria community, Rajes Sitanggang, said that the forest had been their lifeline for decades. “By using the sap of the incense tree, we can make ends meet, collect offerings for the church, and send their children to universities and even abroad,” said Rejes Sitanggang.

Unfortunately, the existence of the Frankincense Forest is starting to be threatened due to one company that continues to clear land for planting eucalyptus, to make wood pulp and viscose fiber, as a material for paper and clothes. Rajes said what the company did was destroying the forest ecosystem. Sources of clean water, rainwater retainers and sources of medicine are missing.

Meanwhile, the Coordinator of Study and Advocacy of the Study Group and Community Initiative Development (KSPPM), Rocky Suriadi, said that Pargamanan could not become a Customary Forest because it did not have a legal protection. Namely Regional Regulations.

Therefore, Rocky asked the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for assistance to encourage local governments to issue regional regulations that became the legal umbrella. “Because, if allowed to drag on, the existing forest will be depleted due to the company,” said Rocky to the Director of Conflict Management, Tenure and Customary Forests, M. Said during the meeting.

Rocky said that in addition, the community also asked the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to temporarily suspend the concession permits of companies operating around the Kemenyan forest. The reason is, while waiting for the issuance of a regional regulation to determine customary forest. Thus, the company does not continue to damage the environment by clearing land.

Responding to the arrival of representatives of indigenous peoples, Director of Conflict Management, Tenure and Customary Forests Muhammad Said emphasized the Ministry’s commitment to protecting natural forests. “We must protect the natural forest from being destroyed,” said M. Said at the meeting.

He said that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry cannot immediately ratify the Pargamanan Forest as a Customary Forest. He explained procedurally, this proposal must come from the local government.

The flow, said Said, is that there must first be Information on the Areas of the Indigenous Law Communities plus the Local Regulation on the Recognition of the Indigenous Law Communities, then identification and verification by a committee formed by the Regent or Mayor. Then, the determination of the territory of the Customary Law Community by the Regent or Mayor.

After the stipulation, the Mayor or Regent submits an application for recognition of Customary Forests, from here there will be field validation and verification by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. After all the processes have been followed, he said, there will only be the issuance of the Decree on the Determination of Customary Law. Therefore, Said promised to speak with the Regent of Humbahas so that all these procedures can be passed.

Media Contact : Ori Sidabutar – Campaigner Change.org Indonesia (0877-8433-5149)

Rocky Pasaribu – Study and Advocacy Coordinator KSPPM (0852-5262-4955)

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