For decades Friends of the Earth Indonesia/WALHI has been developing a community-led model to protect the country’s forests. It is based on recognising the land rights of subsistence farmers, collective management of non-timber forest products and traditional knowledge.
WALHI is currently working with farmers and peasant unions across the country to defend land rights and promote community control of natural resources. WALHI supports their struggle by providing free legal services, training in community organising and connecting local producers directly with consumers. Their approach is working. Not only have individual communities won land rights in the courts, but families have benefited from improved vegetable sales. This model is already being massively scaled up due to its success. The government has promised 12.7 million hectares of forest area for Community Forest Management.
Image: Pa Yusep in an abandoned mine bordering rainforest near Gunung Karasik village. © Luka Tomac / Friends of the Earth International
In 2022 the total area of community-managed areas supported by Friends of the Earth Indonesia/WALHI has reached 1.1 million ha. A total of 161,019 households from 28 provinces benefit from the protection and development provided by this Community-based Area Management.2 This inspiring initiative has achieved so much on the pathway to systemic change, but much more is needed to be done.
System change is a powerful idea and a political struggle for a better world. Powerful because it’s about addressing the root causes of today’s ecological, economic and social crises. It is about making deep, far-reaching and lasting change that goes beyond winning individual campaigns.