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Prior to 1967, access rights to State Forests were tolerated within the context of customary rights. However, during the New Order regime (1967-1998), the Indonesian government passed numerous legislation — such as the Basic Forestry Act of 1967, the Basic Mining Act of 1967, and the Basic Agrarian Law of 1969 that placed the rights of the State and national development ahead of the rights of individual communities. For example, the Basic Forestry Act of 1967, although recognizing the existence of locally owned forests, stated that local communities could not obstruct the implementation of government development agendas. In the 1980s, the national government classified over 75 per cent of the nation's land as State Forest, essentially taking land away from local communities and putting it under state control and administration. The approach ignored pre-existing local rights to millions of hectares of land, forests, coastlines and other natural resources. The state claimed authority as the only legitimate owner of all resources in these areas and has used this authority to prioritize economic development, usually at the expense and interests of local communities. This assertion of state authority, especially during President Suharto’s thirty-two-year campaign for economic development, contributed to the rapid depletion of Indonesia’s natural resources, usually to the detriment of resource dependent communities.


University of British Columbia


Friday, May 19, 2017