BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A pledge by Indonesia to hand back control of customary forests to indigenous people is being hampered by overlapping land claims for mines, plantations, forests and public land in the country, a senior government official said on Thursday.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo had vowed to return 12.7 million hectares (31 million acres) of land to indigenous people following a historic 2013 court ruling to lift state control of customary forests.
Rights to about 1.9 million hectares of forest land had been handed over by 2017, but land rights activists said the process was slow, and the government had refused to recognize a map of customary land prepared by indigenous rights group AMAN.
“There are too many maps – we have 85 thematic maps for forestry, mining, plantations, customary forests, etc,” said Prabianto Mukti Wibowo, assistant deputy minister for forest governance in the environment ministry.
“We need to reconcile them all before settling a claim. We are also trying to reconcile AMAN’s map, but there are some discrepancies, and we have to consider them carefully,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Bangkok.