Communities awarded for forest-preservation
source: The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, updated: 2007-08-13 08:36:30
Indigenous communities across the archipelago play an important role in preserving nature by using their local wisdom to preserve traditional forests, as confirmed recently at an awards ceremony held by the Indigenous Peoples' Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN). Alliance deputy secretary-general, Mahir Takaka, said 16 communities of indigenous peoples had been presented with inaugural awards in the hope that other communities would also be inspired to preserve their forests.
"This is the first time AMAN has recognized indigenous peoples for the preservation of their forests. We plan to present the awards annually," Mahir told The Jakarta Post after a cultural evening to mark International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on Thursday. He said that AMAN and other non-governmental organizations focused on the preservation of the environment had been surveying Indonesia's indigenous communities over the past two years so as to see what they were doing to preserve their forests. There are two award categories; the first category is for communities that preserve individually-owned forests that are used as communal and cultivation forests, while the second is for communities that preserve their customary forests. Mahir said that the Hoto and the Lodang indigenous communities, both in North Luwu regency, South Sulawesi, preserved their forests by dividing them up into distinct areas, such as a drinking water area, hunting area and pristine area. He added that the communities punished those guilty of damaging the forests under their customary laws. Another community in North Luwu, the Rongkong community, also received an award, making the regency the country's "overall champion".
National Commission on Human Rights chairman Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, who was also present at the event, said Indonesian indigenous peoples deserved to have a national day devoted to them to commemorate the sacrifices and efforts they had made to preserve the environment.
He said that the indigenous peoples' demands to manage their customary lands were often perceived as some kind of separatism, especially when they came from conflict-torn areas, such as Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, Maluku and Papua. "Such perceptions are not true. Indigenous peoples were also involved in founding this republic. They have the right to manage their own land," Abdul said.(14) Communities receiving awards
1. Tawana community in Ulu Bongka District, Touna Regency, Central Sulawesi 2. Taragahar Tajomosan community in Waigete District, Sikka Regency, East Nusa Tenggara 3. Aceh Rayeuk community in Lhoong District, Aceh Besar Regency, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam 4. Rinjani community in Sembalun District, East Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara 5. Semende Marga Ulunosal community in Nasal District, Kaur Regency, Bengkulu 6. Meratus community in East Batang Alai District, Central Hulu Sungai Regency, South Kalimantan 7. Rongkong community in Limbong District, North Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi 8. Hoto indigenous community in Seko District, North Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi 9. Erdas community in South Dusun District, South Barito Regency, Central Kalimantan 10. Gunung Betung community in Padang Cermin District, South Lampung Regency, Bandar Lampung 11. KTHR Sekar Pijer community in Panggang District, Gunung Kidul Regency, Yogyakarta 12. Tondano river community in Minahasa Regency, North Sulawesi 13. Rengganis community in Panti District, Jember Regency, East Java 14. Cirewed community in Sukajaya District, Bogor Regency, West Java 15. Dayak Kutai Barat community in West Kutai Regency, East Kalimantan 16. Lodang community in Seko District, North Luwu Regency, South Sulawesi