President Joko Widodo has symbolically handed over 2,929 social forestry licenses covering an area totaling 3,442,000 hectares to be managed by 651,000 families across the country.
The ceremony on Thursday (7/1) relayed virtually to the provinces, also involved the handing over of 35 decrees recognizing customary forests covering 37,500 hectares as well as 58 decrees for the usage of land for agrarian reform (TORA) covering 72,00 hectares in 17 provinces.
“So, after holding these decrees, they must be really used for productive economic activities but also which are environmentally friendly,” President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, told the recipient of the decrees and licenses.
In a video recording of his speech which link was uploaded on the official twitter of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Jokowi warned that the licenses should not be transferred to other parties and stressed that he would continue to monitor the licenses from Jakarta,
“They (the forests) should be used for productive activities, not neglected and should continue to be developed so that they bring benefits to the economy and the people,” Jokowi said.
The decrees act as a license for a group of people, usually communities living in and around forests, to manage a designated social forestry area while at the same time protecting the forest with the purpose of helping environmental, social and rural development there.
Jokowi cited a number of activities that could be managed in the social forestry areas, including agroforestry, ecotourism, agro-silvo pastoralism, bioenergy, non-timber forest products and people’s timber production.
The president said that the granting of the licenses was also part of efforts to reduce land conflicts, especially in forest areas.
“This is one of the responses to existing agrarian conflicts, be that between the people and companies or the people and the government,” the president said.
In the past five years, the government has accorded special attention to what is called the redistribution of assets, Jokowi said.
“Why? This is related to poverty, this is related to economic imbalances, especially in rural areas and the environment around forests,” he said.
The government has earmarked a total of 12.7 million hectares of forest areas for its social forestry program. By the end of December 2020, a total of 4.42 million hectares of forest have been given to manage groups covering 895,769 families across the country.
The province of West Kalimantan saw the largest area designated as social forest under the new licenses, covering 528,000 hectares followed by North Kalimantan with 463,000 hectares, South Sulawesi with 276,600 hectares, Central Kalimantan with 206,000 hectares and West Sumatra with 187,000 hectares.