Forest and land-use governance in a decentralized Indonesia: A legal and policy review

By Fitrian Ardiansyah, Andri Akbar Marthen and Nur Amalia, published by Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), 2015. Please quote as:

Ardiansyah F, Marthen AA and Amalia N. 2015. Forest and land-use governance in a decentralized Indonesia: A legal and policy review. Occasional Paper 132. Bogor, Indonesia: CIFOR.

for the pdf version (988kb), please see: OP-132_Ardiansyah et al_2015



This report is a legal and policy review of the powers of key government agencies and lower-level governments and the relations among these different agencies at different levels (e.g. the relationship between the local and central governments) in forest and related sectors. The focus of this review is to identify a particular government agency or level of government that has the legal power to make resource decisions in different spheres related to forests, land use affecting forests and/or benefit sharing, including REDD+. It aims to provide an understanding of the legal basis for the powers of such agencies or a level of government. The review also examines different key actors in each sphere (including whether these agencies can make certain decisions according to the laws and regulations), the differences among agencies, and the scope of authority of lower-level governments.

The review in this report contains an introduction and four main sections. The first (Section 2) describes the division of responsibilities and power across the different levels of government. It provides a general overview of powers (e.g. the extent to which they are permitted to legislate or make decisions) and responsibilities as established by decentralization laws and policy, budget distribution as established by law, and other relevant aspects. This section addresses issues related to the overview of different levels of government in Indonesia, including the evolution and process of decentralization; the definition, scale and scope of regional autonomy/decentralization powers; the powers shared among agencies at different levels; and other relevant aspects.

The second section (Section 3) is on financial resource mechanisms and distribution. It serves as a background for the on-the-ground study of benefit-sharing mechanisms (e.g. actual and potential with regard to REDD+). This section seeks to address issues related to the arrangement of financial resources and the powers and responsibilities over them assigned and distributed among the different levels of government. Such responsibilities include forest fees and other royalties, as well as any existing benefit or incentive schemes (e.g. payment for ecosystem services, or PES) aimed at maintaining forests or promoting sustainable forest management or REDD+.

Section 4 describes the role that different levels of government play by law in the following list of land-use decision or policy arenas affecting forests: (1) spatial and land use planning, (2) defining the vocation of the land and conversion rights, (3) the titling of agricultural land, (4) the titling of indigenous land within forest areas, (5) the governments’ ownership and administration of the land, (6) natural protected areas, (7) mining concessions, (8) forest concessions, (9) oil palm, and (10) infrastructure. This section uses summary tables as far as possible, describing the division of responsibilities among the different levels of government, including in the making of formal decisions, which procedures are used, and the division and balance of powers across functions (i.e. in establishing policy and norms, authorizing, administering, controlling and monitoring, and auditing).

The last section (Section 5) further explains the role and opportunities for indigenous (adat) law. This includes a review of the definition of adat law and the legal basis for communities making land claims based on such law. This section discusses challenges and opportunities for adat law to be further recognized in the Indonesian legal system.

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Best Practice: major Indonesian NGOs join forces to contribute to an international standard of sustainability for palm oil plantations

By Fitrian Adiansyah and Abetnego Tarigan, in Forest partnerships: enhancing local livelihoods and protecting the environment in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, 2007, edited by Maria Osbeck and Marisha Wojciechowska-Shibuya, IUCN, Bangkok, p. 23. For the pdf version of the full please click here: 2007_CaseStudy_WildHoneyBees

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was established by businesses involved in the production, processing and retail of palm oil — key members include Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil companies and European processing and retailing companies. The RSPO was established to counter the concerns of environmental organizations that palm oil plantations were a major cause of deforestation and were being imposed on local communities without concern for their rights, livelihoods or welfare and managed with insufficient concern for the rights and welfare of plantation workers and smallholders.

The influential Indonesia NGO consortium Sawit Watch and WWF-Indonesia — both RSPO Board Members — saw the opportunity to promote and call for high social standards and environmental criteria for stakeholders in the oil palm industry. Mutually supporting each others’ experience and expertise, they developed “Sustainability Criteria”, which elaborate voluntary standards to be adopted by the industry to ensure that palm oil production is socially and environmentally acceptable.

In November 2005, the principles and criteria (P&C) for “sustainable palm oil” were adopted by the RSPO General Assembly. The standard is being tested through a two-year trial implementation phase wherein 17 large companies have voluntarily committed to participate. Combined advocacy ensured that the P&C eventually included provisions on customary rights to land; free, prior and informed consent; respect for ratified international law; workers’ rights; non-discrimination; minimized and safe use of pesticides; fair pricing for smallholder products; recognition of high conservation value areas; and other important environmental aspects.

This partnership presents a concrete example of effective synergy between social and environmental groups and represents an effort to bring the government, NGOs and the private sector to the table. The RSPO’s sustainability criteria have established a good basis for developing best practices in the industry, halting conversion of high conservation value forests, promoting zero burning, and phasing out the use of agrochemicals. Communities impacted are in agreement with this standard and preliminary field studies suggest that the draft standard will offer significant protection. Looking to the future, these measures — along with commitment from actors on the global supply chains — should prove instrumental for the advance of environmentally acceptable practices in the palm oil industry.

[Abet Nego Tarigan, Sawit Watch: “Partnership between NGOs increases our access to information and enriches our work.” 

Joanna de Rozario, NTFP-EP: “A community that increases quality, increases its profit margin for the same volume of honey.” 

Community Member “A key to ensure economic benefit and overall well-being for rain-forest communities lies in the ability to organize.”]

ANNOUNCEMENT 12 January 2007:

RSPO Code of Conduct

RSPO is pleased to announce its Code of Conduct†. This is a major document that articulates the aspirations and expectations we as RSPO Members wish to aspire to and meet. The Code of Conduct is the culmination of the collective effort of RSPO Members, expressed through the Executive Board over the past year. It not only reflects the major concerns but also defines key objectives in meeting RSPO’s goals. After deliberation, negotiation and consultation, the Code of Conduct is now ready for adoption. It would be a cornerstone for gauging members’ contributions towards RSPO, and ultimately towards the goal of promoting the production, procurement and use of sustainable palm oil. It would also form the basis for our communication to stakeholders as we report against the Code of Conduct.

For the complete Code, see Annex 3. Source:

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Case Study: promoting sustainable livelihoods in Danau Sentarum National Park, West Kalimantan — the case of Wild Honey Bees

By Fitrian Adiansyah, Abetnego Tarigan, Maria Cristina Guerrero, Aloisa Zamora-Santos, Heri Valentinus, in Forest partnerships: enhancing local livelihoods and protecting the environment in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, 2007, edited by Maria Osbeck and Marisha Wojciechowska-Shibuya, IUCN, Bangkok, pp. 20-23. For the pdf version of the full please click here: 2007_CaseStudy_WildHoneyBees

West Kalimantan is one of four provinces in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo. The province has a population of about 3.74 million people (2000 Census) and major ethnic groups include the Dayak, Malay and Chinese, who constitute about 90% of the total population.

The borders of West Kalimantan roughly trace the mountain ranges surrounding the watershed of the Kapuas River, the longest river in Indonesia, which drains much of the province, namely the extensive Lake Sentarum area — an extensive protected reserve of 132,000 hectares of lakes and of seasonally inundated forest ecosystems.

The Lake Sentarum area plays an important role as a natural reservoir for the mid- and downstreams of the Kapuas River and watershed . Of particular importance is the annual flooding regime (flood pulse), which ensures biological abundance that is extensively utilized by local people and forms a vital part of the local economy. In addition to fishing, local people depend on harvesting a variety of other terrestrial and aquatic organisms for their livelihoods, many of which are thought to be closely associated with the energy and nutrient cycles dependent on the annual flood pulse phenomenon. The Kapuas River is 1,143 km long and the watershed is 85,200 km2 in area. Despite abundant rich natural resources and biodiversity, threats to the forests stemming from logging and agricultural expansion have made life increasingly more difficult for the majority of people living in the area who remain below the poverty line.

Local NGOs have collaborated to tackle the threats to Danau Sentarum and to provide assistance to local people in support of their livelihoods. They have played a role in providing critical services in areas such as: Indonesian natural resource law; regulations on international investment and relations; ways to register community land; and negotiation tactics and strategies. Recent efforts by WALHI, WWF-Indonesia, SawitWatch and Riak Bumi have focused on facilitating a dialogue between communities, other local NGOs and government officials to find workable solutions for the future management of the Kapuas Watershed.

As sustainable management regimes in the upland areas impact the honey harvesting activity downstream, in December 2006, Riak Bumi, WALHI, Sawit Watch and WWF co-organized a multi-stakeholder dialogue with government and non-government actors, resulting in a declaration that commits communities upstream to end electrofishing by 1 January 2007 and prohibits the use of small size nylon nets as of January 2008.

Wild Honey Harvesting and Marketing

Nests of Apis dorsata, the giant honey bee, have traditionally been exploited to produce large volumes of honey and wax for trade. The tikung system of honey collection is still practised by a relatively large group of the local population in the DNSP region. The honey is collected via three different techniques: lalau (climbing up tall trees to harvest honey), tikung (traditional honeyboard system) and repak (a place where bees produce no more than one comb on any kind of any tree branch — the first person to find the comb becomes its owner). Although the tikung system is the most typical honey harvesting approach practised in the park, honey gathering from tall trees that have been colonized by bees is also popular in this region.

Apis dorsata wild honey has good economic potential as a food product as gatherers can obtain a high price. For local forest communities, wild honey (an NTFP) can be an alternative income source to help cover their daily needs. Sustainable harvesting of wild honey and management of Apis dorsata habitats are essential to protect the forest and the environment. Honey harvesting is also an alternative solution to mitigate de-forestation problems that have surfaced in recent years in Indonesia, resulting in the degradation of natural resources and the environment.

In this context, Riak Bumi initiated theIndonesia National Workshop on the Wild Honey Bee Network in Danau Sentarum National Park in January 2005 with participants from Kalimantan and Sulawesi. This forum facilitated the exchange and sharing of experiences on the management and practical utilization of wild honey bees by local gatherers; information dissemination and communication between areas emerged as a strategy for addressing forestry problems in Indonesia.

At the forum, participants raised concerns about the difficulty of marketing wild honey bee products. Discussion revealed that harvesting practices and postharvest processes result in low quality wild honey; moreover local
conditions, namely forest fire smoke and logging, exacerbate the problem. The participants agreed to work towards standardization to ensure good quality wild honey in order to meet market demand. They also agreed to set up a wild honey bee network to facilitate support facilities and information exchange and dissemination. The network’s goals are to improve the quality of wild honey, to enhance its marketing value and to generate increases in volume and price. Such aims will provide incentives to encourage more gatherers to harvest honey judiciously and maintain natural bee habitats in the forest. Riak Bumi plans to select locations for extension in Sumba, Flores, Sumbawa, possibly (later) West Papua and Mentawai archipelago.

Honey and beeswax is sold in local and regional markets; Riak Bumi has worked to link communities and markets directly to close the gap between the producer and the final consumer. This has helped to channel increased
economic benefit to the local producers that would have otherwise been diverted at various levels of the marketing chain.

During the 2003 harvest season, Riak Bumi helped package and market over 1.5 tonnes of honey from participating villages and double the financial return to the producers. With an additional 20 tonnes of honey harvested annually throughout the DSNP area, this initiative could potentially contribute to significant poverty reduction for many communities. By helping new communities to improve the quality and marketing of their honey, Riak Bumi will augment socio-economic benefits to more villages.

[Fitrian Ardiansyah, World Wide Fund for Nature WWF-Indonesia: “It is difficult for NGOs to determine what to prioritize because the companies are moving so fast.” “We need an integrated approach to the problems. Partnering with a network of NGOs made us expand our horizons, and build mutual understanding and relationships on regional issues to strategize and seek the optimal solutions.” “NGOs from the South have built a good working and sharing network on rain-forest issues through this programme; but what about the NGOs from the North?”]

As honey gatherers increasingly recognize the enhanced financial value of their honey, there is a corresponding marked shift in people’s attitudes towards local forest protection, conservation and enhancement. This includes
growing recognition among communities for the need to work cooperatively to reduce the risk of fires; to adopt self-imposed rules to guide the community in the use of forest resources; and to re-plant to enhance bee habitats and ensure future wood-supplies. In 2000 and 2001, four local villages in the park worked together to reforest 120 hectares.

Furthermore, while many bee-keeping projects throughout the developing world have focused on the introduction of frame hive bee-keeping systems, which require the importation of exotic bee species (i.e. Apis mellifera or A. cerana), the DSNP project has emphasized the need to improve upon the traditional honey-board hunting system (tikung harvesting system), which works with the indigenous A. dorsata bee and is compatible with the
ecological conditions of the DSNP.

With Riak Bumi facilitating the training of six villages in improved harvest and post-harvest processing techniques, marketing of forest honey, as well as participatory reforestation of fire-damaged sites in seven villages, the communities have heightened awareness about the need for baseline data to monitor honey production, bee population ecology and forest regeneration. As a result, permanent monitoring plots to gauge their achievements have recently been established in the DSNP.

Furthermore, in June 2002, Riak Bumi co-organized a workshop on “Anthropogenic Impacts on DSNP” that convened local communities, NGOs, government agencies and academic institutions. This resulted in a community
declaration committing them to participate in the conservation and management of the park through specific clauses on customary laws, forest protection and apiculture development. The continuation and expansion of these activities reflect the park communities’ recognition of the critical link between livelihood sustainability and the need for their active participation in biodiversity conservation.

Organic Certification 

In 2006, BIOCert an organic certifying body in Indonesia, announced that it had selected the Forest Honey Network Indonesia as its pilot project for organic certification. Guided by BIOCert, Riak Bumi, the national secretariat of the network, and the NTFP-EP (head-quartered in the Philippines) joined forces to develop Local Standards and an Internal Control System (ICS) for the Honey Producer Groups of the Wild Honey Harvesters in West Kalimantan.

While various aspects of the management system need to be analysed to determine whether the honey produced by the network qualifies for organic certification, the network seems to be well on its way to setting up its ICS and eventually becoming certified. With a number of factors already working in its favour — a sustainable management system and strong established institutions that can manage the certification process — the Forest Honey Network Indonesia’s madu (honey) may soon bear the organic seal and break into worldwide markets.

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Impact assessment on oil palm development

By Dr Asril Darussamin (Indonesian Palm Oil Commission), Fitrian Ardiansyah and Suhandri (WWF-Indonesia)

This paper is presented at the 2nd Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil, 6 October 2004, Jakarta.

Original link:

Please read the full paper here: Impact Assessment on Oil Palm Development (IPOC & WWF)


As one of the leading representatives of the palm oil industry in Indonesia and a non-structural organisation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Komisi Minyak Sawit Indonesia (The Indonesian Palm Oil Commission or IPOC) saw the needs to deal with sustainable palm oil issues directly and was willing to find appropriate solutions for the problems. The aim of the organisation was to provide clear information, steps and guidelines, to its members (mostly industry players) and decision makers from the government, on the way to move forwards in implementing better management practices based on appropriate consideration of environmental and social aspects. The first step taken was to conduct a study that identifies the interaction and impacts of oil palm plantations on the environment. This study or assessment intended to obtain clear and sufficient knowledge on environmental issues relating to oil palm plantations including the conversion of HCVF and the loss of wildlife habitat. The next step was to find and formulate ‘best solutions’ that combine both interests of business and the environment. This kind of solutions hopefully will positively change the practices and image of the Indonesian palm oil industry. In taking these two steps, IPOC reaches out WWF-Indonesia for collaboration and assistance. In April 2004, an MoU basing the collaboration between these two organisations was signed by Dr. Delima Azahari (Chief of IPOC) and Dr. Mubariq Ahmad (Executive Director of WWF-Indonesia).

The overall objectives of this impact assessment were to acquire clear and sufficient data on the positive and negative impacts of oil palm plantations on forests and biodiversity in Indonesia and to find appropriate
solutions of the problems. These solutions would act as a starting point in showing the responsibilities of Indonesian palm oil industry and changing the practices and image of the industry. The specific objectives of this assessment were to identify and learn the impacts and interaction of oil palm plantations in Riau and West Kalimantan provinces on High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF) – inside and in the surrounding plantations – and to understand actions that have been or need to be taken to maintain or improve the quality of the HCVF. The findings would also be used to recommend any adjustments on existing sustainable palm oil criteria (including the one that is being developed by Proforest for RSPO/Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).