Indonesia: The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) in Indonesia has planned to map the country’s ‘customary forests’.
A recent ruling by the Constitutional Court has acknowledged that indigenous communities — and not the state — have rights over some 40 million hectares of customary forests. Since the customary forests have never been mapped, there is a lot of overlapping with concessions the government has given to palm oil and pulp and paper companies. About 70% of forest areas in Indonesia are located in areas with overlapping permits. Now, the government wants to create a single map of all forests, which is going to be a major challenge. The indigenous people understand the challenge and therefore AMAN and the Phillipines-based the Indigenous Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education (Tebtebba) organised a Global Conference on Participatory Mapping of Indigenous Territories in Samosir, North Sumatra last week.
AMAN aims at mapping all such forests by 2020. “We have already mapped seven million hectares of land, but that took us 15 years. We need to take advantage of new mapping tools like GPS and 3D mapping to accelerate the process,” said Abdon Nababan, the secretary general of the alliance that represents 17 million people. Indigenous peoples from Nepal, the Philippines, Brazil, Peru, Nicaragua and Kenya attended the event to share their maps and experiences.