Community Rights to Forests in Indonesia

Forest governance is one of the major factors influencing the success of REDD+ in Indonesia – and within this, the ability of local communities to manage their land is one of the most urgent considerations. This study draws upon three case studies to explore different mechanisms available to – and pursued by – local communities in order to gain recognition of their land tenure rights. These mechanisms include those establishing community forests (Hutan Desa and Hutan Kemasyarakatan) and those granting tenure rights specifically on the grounds of masyarakat hukum adat status, either through a regulatory process or through participatory mapping. The findings from the case studies suggest that the recognition of indigenous peoples and local communities’ rights to forests tenure is a critical ingredient to the success of REDD+ in Indonesia, not only because it protects carbon stocks but also because it reduces poverty and social conflict. However the study identifies various obstacles to effective and equitable rights registration process, ranging from high costs to persistent external threats to the insecurity of the rights obtained. Lack of transparency, power differentials and integrity issues also arise. The study provides recommendations to stakeholders for addressing these challenges, including through conflict resolution, coordination through cross-sectoral MoUs, incentivising forest protection, improvement of efficiency and reduction of corruption, and the creation of learning networks for capacity building.