Participatory Mapping: Actualizing Opportunities for Protection of People’s Right to Forests and Land

Muhammad Yamin Adysa Putra

Activist of Gemawan


International Human Rights Day is again commemorated on December 10, since it was first declared at the UN General Assembly in 1948. Since then, every member government of the United Nations has made the enforcement of human rights the foundation of their government. Likewise, the perspective of human rights is not limited to the issue of war, although in fact the destruction of civilization after World War II was a factor in the declaration of International Human Rights Day.


According to Law Number 39 Year 1999 regarding Human Rights, human rights are basic rights that are naturally attached to humans, universal and lasting, and therefore they must be protected, respected, maintained, and must not be ignored, diminished, or seized by anyone. Human rights become the guarantee to the existence of human dignity as well as harmonious relations with the environment.


The perspective of human rights limited only to the problems of war and physical conflict, eventually set aside the reality of human rights violations occurred in the agrarian sector. Launched from, the Consortium for Agrarian Reform (KPA) noted that there had been 9 evictions and criminalization of farmers from March to April 2020. This means that the eviction and criminalization happened even during the situation of Covid-19 pandemic.


The right to environment is human rights 

What must become a common understanding is that obtaining a good and healthy living environment is a right for all Indonesian people. According to the Secretary General of Komnas HAM (National Commission on Human Rights), Dr. Tasdiyanto, SP., M.Si, the damaged and polluted environmental conditions have indicated that there is an issue of human rights. A good and healthy living environment will give a sustainable contribution to the source of human livelihood. This is in line with the 1945 Constitution Article 28 H paragraph (1) which states; “Everyone has the right to live in physical and spiritual prosperity, to have a place to live, and to have a good and healthy living environment and and to have the right to obtain health services.”


In the book Menemukan Hak Atas Tanah Pada Standar Hak-Hak Asasi Manusia Di Indonesia (Finding Right to Land in Human Right Standards in Indonesia) published by the Commission for Missing People and Victims of Violence (KontraS), it is stated that the right and access to land have a very strong relationship with the fulfilment of other human rights. The right to gain adequate food, the right to water, the right to work, the right to be healthy are all connected directly to the existence of the right to land. (Contrast, 2016)


Actualization, Participation and Inclusion

Opportunities to maintain environmental sustainability in Indonesia basically are still open with the issuance of PerMenLHK No: P.83 / MENLHK / SETJEND / KUM.1 / 10/2016 regarding Social Forestry. Through social forestry schemes, people can get right legality and access to use the forest and ensure the sustainability of their livelihoods, even though they have to face tough challenges: “fist fights” seizing space with each other with the prima donna of the source of foreign exchange, palm oil and mining industry. Overlapping permits in management and boundary conflicts then become ripples on the surface, as in the report released by KPA above.


Therefore, spatial-based development planning becomes an objective step that can be taken. The setting of area borders to ensure definitive land tenure is a priority to reduce border conflicts happen. Based on the records of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, there are 13,000 villages in Indonesia which are in conflict status (KLHK, 2019), and out of 72,000 villages in Indonesia only 34.7% have boundaries. If this problem is not solved, then social forestry schemes – among them through village forests – will in fact meet a dead end.


Participatory mapping can be the answer to slowly unravel the tangled threads of spatial management in Indonesia. This model will move the communities in each region to jointly ensure the definitive boundaries of their management rights to forests and land. Communities in these areas are the groups that have the most interest in the environment for their connection to the environment, the connection that generates local wisdom in managing and obtaining their livelihoods from the forest, which is their basic right.


Therefore, it requires acceleration by creating cadres of participatory mapping at the grassroot level. These cadres will later produce participatory mapping groups that will keep their management right to forests and land. The indication map emerging from the participatory mapping process will become a reference in proposing forest and land tenure legality by the community through social forestry schemes. Strengthening through this kind of participatory and inclusive processes is still implemented by Gemawan until today.


Hence, the effort of participatory mapping on management area is a collective effort to fight for the community’s right to a good and healthy environment, as mandated by the 1945 Constitution. Breaking the relationship between community and the environment is a violation to human rights, as if separating a child from his/her mother.


Have a nice celebration of International Human Rights Day

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