Ministry of Forestry Is The Cause of Small Islands Destruction in Indonesia

Jakarta, 13 March 2015. The existence of Ministry of Forestry in managing small islands is suspected to be the main cause of natural forest destruction in the small islands. It is expressed by the Coalition to Save Small Islands in Indonesia during the talk show titled “Critical Condition of Small Islands and Indigenous Peoples Rights” in the Antara Journalistic Photo Gallery. The Coalition also encourages the public to save the small islands in Indonesia.

The rapid natural resource exploitation in the small islands has caused several small islands in Indonesia are destroyed and even sinked. The permit issued by-at that time-Ministry of Forestry resulted in rapid development of land-based investment in small islands, said Mufti Barri Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) Campaigner. Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries in 2011 stated that 28 small islands in Indonesia have been sunk, and other 24 small islands under threat to be sunk. Another fact also exposed from the study Maplecroft’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index conducted by the international organization, Maplecroft.

In the report, it is stated that 1500 islands in Indonesia will sink in 2050 illegal exploitation activities are really threatening the life system in small islands. This is caused by the loss of natural forest that its function is to manage the ecosystem balance, as the fortress of climate change and the rise of sea level. The loss of natural forest in small islands caused by the land-based investment activities such as logging concession, Industrial Plantation Forest, plantation, and mining.

FWI conducted a study in the Provinces of West Sumatra, Central Sulawesi, West Papua, Maluku, North Maluku, and Riau Archipelago. Those are the provinces with many small islands and FWI noted that in 2013 there were 2 logging concession, 2 Industrial Plantation Forest concessions, 4 plantations, and 227 mining concessions. Those total of 235 concessions covered around 673 thousand hectares or 18 percent of the total small island area in six provinces.

Mufti also added that the legacy of problems from the Ministry of Forestry is the government’s responsibility as the policymakers to ensure the forest sustainability in the small islands, especially the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. The government must take strategic steps immediately to improve the forestry governance through a moratorium on new and extension license of forest and land management in small islands. Moreover, the processes of transparency, participation, coordination, and accountability also have tp be implemented to realize the good governance in small island management, stated Mufti Barri in the press release.

Based on the study on task and function on natural resources management in small islands, at least there are two ministries that must collaborate, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries. Those two ministries have overlapping roles, the management and protection of mangrove in coastal areas.

The Secretary General of the Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), Abdon Nababan said that the condition caused by the absence of recognition and protection of indigenous peoples in small islands has negative impacts for the society and the future generation. The indigenous/local communities have lost their territory and rights to manage it, and even criminalized through the policies issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. This showed that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry are unable to manage forests in small islands. Abdon Nababan also said that there will be around 10 million indigenous peoples who live in small islands and will receive the impact of the destruction of small islands.

Meanwhile, the lack of awareness and real action by the government to protect the forest in small islands will have negative impacts on the communities. The destruction of natural forests in small islands will dismiss the communities’ source of livelihood, and even will extinct if the small islands where the communities live were sunk. The forests in small islands must be protected, therefore the communities’ rights to natural resources are not lost, said Mika Ganobal the Coordinator of Save Aru Movement.

Based on the current condition, there is no other choice for the government beside to conduct a thorough evaluation to stop all exploitation activities in small islands, both legal and illegal, and to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to small islands. If the government doesn’t do this, then the small islands will not leave nothing for the development to improve people’s welfare, said Rifai Lubis from Citra Mandiri Mentawai Foundation (YCMM).


Editor’s Note:

1. Category of small island based on Law no. 27 year 2007 jo Law no.1 Year 2014 is a land

with a total area at least or equal to 2,000 km2.

Contacts for interview:

1. Mufti Fathul Barri, FWI: 082110677935,

2. Abdon Nababan, AMAN: 0811111365,

3. Mika Ganobal, SAVE Aru: 082399478222,

4. Rifai Lubis, YCMM: 081374797855,

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