Who is Damaging the Forests of Kalimantan?

Who is damaging the forests of Kalimantan? Yes, who?

Certainly not the indigenous people. Why? It’s inconceivable, for centuries, even thousands of years. The locals wouldn’t jeopardize their livelihoods and burn down their own homes. Nonsense!

Then who?

Read The Dayak People and the Green Regions of Borneo that Form Their Life

No doubt. External factors are the culprits. One of the triggering factors for inter-ethnic conflicts in West Kalimantan (Kalbar) that have occurred multiple times since 1996 is the unfair management of forests and agricultural land in West Kalimantan.

The indigenous people safeguard and preserve

The Dayak, often referred to as the “indigenous people,” custodians, and heirs of Borneo, the third-largest island in the world, play a crucial role in the history and environmental sustainability of this region.

Read The Future of IKN and the Threat of Accelerated Deforestation on the Island of Borneo

Before the formation of the state, the Dayak community already acknowledged the land and earth as their own. Logically, before the arrival of outsiders, Borneo radiated natural beauty and carefully nurtured its ecosystems, maintaining environmental balance.

When this ecosystem suffers damage, the main culprits are often traced back to human actions, especially by newcomers, companies, and miners. The Dayak not only hold the title of “indigenous people” but also act as guardians of nature and custodians of traditions that respect the harmonious relationship between humans and the environment.

In the historical process, as Borneo became known for the exploitation of natural resources, the Dayak community often witnessed dramatic changes. The presence of newcomers and companies often brought negative impacts on Borneo’s ecosystem, damaging the natural beauty and threatening environmental sustainability.

Read The Campaign of One Political Party Rejecting the IKN : Will IKN end up Like Myanmar?

Dayak as custodians and heirs of Borneo continue to strive to uphold the values of sustainability and ecological balance. They seek to raise awareness about the importance of involving local communities in decision-making related to natural resource management. These efforts involve forest preservation, wildlife protection, and sustainable resource development.

Exploitation of Borneo’s forests by outsiders and companies

The importance of maintaining a balance between human needs and environmental preservation is the primary focus for the Dayak community. They are committed to engaging newcomers, companies, and miners in conservation efforts, building sustainable partnerships to preserve the natural beauty of Borneo for future generations. Thus, the Dayak not only bear witness to history but actively contribute to building a sustainable future for the third-largest island in the world.

For many people, the situation of environmental damage and deforestation in Borneo seems illogical. How can the management of Kalimantan’s forests suddenly become a source of dissatisfaction, and who should be blamed?

Regardless of whether we like it or not, this is the reality we must face.

Exploitation of Borneo’s forests has reached a critical point. In fact, more than 30% of West Kalimantan, equivalent to 146,700 km2 of land, has turned into a barren wasteland due to excessive logging.

Read The Future of IKN and the Threat of Accelerated Deforestation on the Island of Borneo

One of the main problems in Kalimantan’s forest management is the perception of “injustice” in the system.

On one hand, holders of Forest Concession Rights (HPH) cut down large and small trees, while on the other hand, local residents who rely on wood for household purposes are considered thieves. Yes, they are considered thieves on their own land!

HPH enters, Kalimantan’s forests begin to deteriorate

The entry of HPH into Kalimantan’s forests began with the enactment of Law No. 1 of 1967 concerning Domestic Capital Investment (PMDN). This was justified by the idea that forest management would benefit local residents, as stipulated in Law No. 5/1967 concerning the Basic Principles of Forestry and Government Regulation No. 21 of 1976 concerning Forest Ownership Rights and Forest Product Harvesting.

Read Land Certificates (SKT) for the Dayak People: Fruit Crops and Rubber Plantations.

As noted by Walhi, conservation concessions have increased dramatically in the last two decades. In 1968, for example, there were only 25 timber concessions, but this number increased to 574 in 1990.

At the same time, wood production also saw a sharp increase, with the volume of logged wood rising from 6 million cubic meters in 1967 to 31 million cubic meters per year in 1990. The success of this industry is reflected in foreign exchange earnings from wood exports, which soared from $3 million in 1960 to $300 million in 1988.

Shortly after the launch of these concessions, West Kalimantan witnessed the arrival of the Core Plantation (PIR) and Industrial Timber Plantation (HTI) packages.

These packages were well-received by many, especially investors who knew that these projects would soon generate profits. Under the pretext of “helping the poor communities,” investors successfully convinced local residents to relinquish their land ownership rights.

The approach used by investors was quite convincing. Initially, they built roads, compensated local residents for their land, and employed local workers at minimum wages.

Read Strength-based Approach – Pendekatan Berbasis Kekuatan

Who is actually destroying nature and causing deforestation in Kalimantan? Not the indigenous people. But the companies and greedy miners.

Research conducted by Syarief Ihrahim Alqadrie from Tanjungpura University, Pontianak (1996), revealed that in the HTI location in Sanggau Kapuas, local residents working there consisted of project supervisors with the highest ranks.

There are no managers, let alone directors, in companies operating in West Kalimantan who are locals. Yet, outsiders are the ones seeking their fortune and wealth on their land. Truly tragic!

Unfortunately, forest mapping often carried out for PIR and HTI ignores the fact that these areas are the customary land of local residents, causing conflicts of interest between forest managers and local residents.

When indigenous people demand their rights, they are criminalized. Many examples abound. Local residents practicing slash-and-burn agriculture are arrested and thrown into jail in Sintang. They are considered obstacles to development and unfairly labeled as people who do not understand the law.

Read Apai Janggut und Sei Utik als Naturakademie

For this reason, the Dayak people, the local heirs of Borneo’s land, must be politically aware.

Perhaps, Lazarus needs to get involved. Or form a support and advocacy team for indigenous people who are marginalized or deliberately manipulated with the aim of control.

Triggering social conflicts

It is no wonder that many conflicts and riots break out between entrepreneurs and local residents in the forests of West Kalimantan.

For instance, the Jekak case in Ketapang (1994), where a conflict occurred between concession holders and residents over land, and the expulsion of illegal loggers in Sengah Temila, Pontianak Regency. Similar conflicts also arise in mining and gold mining projects.

The issue of unfair forest management is likely to continue. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that Indonesia has not yet ratified ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, issued on June 27, 1989.

On the other hand, the Dayak Kalimantan indigenous people have diverse forest ownership patterns.

As a result, resistance to injustice and arbitrariness emerges as the local population’s effort to defend themselves, in line with the Dayak motto: “Even dogs, let alone humans. Step on their tails, and they will bite!”

Conflicts over the ownership of land owned by residents

Moreover, sometimes newcomers start off well but eventually reveal their true colors. Conflicts arise due to land ownership. The philosophy “Where the earth is stepped on, there the sky is upheld” is often forgotten when one starts to feel mighty.

Read Apai Janggut und Sei Utik als Naturakademie

So, the destroyers of Kalimantan’s forests are not the indigenous people (who would never burn their own kitchens), but rather the forest companies, illegal miners, and greedy investors.

The trickle-down effect, sometimes just a comforting slogan

So who is actually damaging nature and causing deforestation in Kalimantan? Not the indigenous people. But the companies and miners.

The touted trickle-down effect by economists and environmentalists, echoed by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and popularized by the government, is merely effective in rhetoric.

However, in its implementation, it falls flat—a mere empty promise. Trickle-down effect becomes nothing more than a jargon intended to deceive the public. *)

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