Bangkok: Indigenous communities in Indonesia are using GPS technology to demarcate the boundaries of their ancestral lands, a move many believe could also help mitigate the negative effects of climate change. “Community mapmaking has been a successful tool to show the government that we are here, and we want to protect our lands,” said Rukka Sombolinggi, a spokesperson for the Indigenous Peoples' Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), a Jakarta-based secretariat representing more than 100 indigenous communities.
More than 600 cases for land rights have been filed in Indonesian courts by indigenous communities in the past three years, according to the Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education), based in the Philippines. These advocates of sustainability and tribal rights hope the two- and three-dimensional maps will help the thousands of diverse aboriginal groups to guard the health of the environments they depend on for survival.
Indonesia has more than one thousand indigenous groups who have been participating in mapping for the past two decades, according to AMAN and the FPP.