Indonesia: President sets 12.700 million hectares as social forestry project

Antara 21 Dec 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has issued a license for the cultivation of 12.700 million hectares of land as a social forestry program aimed at improving the welfare of people living around the forests.

"The government has allocated 12.7 million hectares of land to be cultivated as social forestry in the 2015-2019 period," the president said in his address when handing over the license of a social forestry project to PT Nagabhuana Aneka Piranti in Pulau Pisang District, Central Kalimantan, on Tuesday.

He said there are still 25,863 villages inside and in the vicinity of forest areas. "About 70 percent of the villages still use forests as sources of their income."

According to Jokowi, about 10.2 million villagers living in forestry areas are still poor and based on the legal aspect they own rights on forestry sources.

He said the spirit of the social forestry program is to create social justice for the people living around the forest areas while preserving the existence of forestry resources.

The way to achieve these goals is to cultivate forest areas through smallholders forestry, peoples forest, customary forestry and partnership forestry schemes.

But in these schemes, it is the local people, the farmers, the farmers groups and the associations of farmers groups who have the land ownership rights over the social forestry programs.

Apart from cultivating it as a forest estate, to maximally make it productive, the social forestry is to be collaborated with forest resource processing industries so that the products by the farmers could also be oriented to export.

"This will serve as an example. The others will follow. There are many others who are still in queue. With this social forestry model, we want to regain our past glory in the forestry sector on the basis of smallholders forestry estate," the president said.

The president expressed hope that soon after the handing over the license, a plywood factory would be developed which will purchase the peoples timber products.

"The factory is expected to purchase the peoples timber with a fair price but the peoples are also expected to sell it a fair price, they should not ask for too high prices. I hope this would serve as an economic trigger in Pulau Pisang District," he said.

Jokowi promised to always check the utilization of the social forestry lands. "I will check it again later, whether it is productive or not, whether it is exploited or being neglected without tree plantation. The land should not be sold, Surely I will get to know it if they are sold because I will continue to monitor it," the head of state said.

According to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, the social forestry areas in Central Kalimantan cover 1.6 million hectares.

On the occasion, Jokowi handed over licenses on 1,885 hectares for social forestry scheme with license holders reaching 183 families. He also extended licenses for the cultivation of 7,685 hectare village forestry areas with license recipients totaling 1,455 families.

The president also handed over licenses on smallholders forestry covering 510 hectares with 354 family recipients and ones on 1,542 hectares in Sampit District.(*)

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