Field Visit Kasepuhan Karang: Exchange Learning on the Struggle of Indigenous Peoples in Obtaining and Managing Customary Forest
LEBAK- Sixteen participants consisting of activists; indigenous young leaders; observers of Indigenous Peoples issues, natural resource management, and environmental justice from 15 countries together with local communities, learn and exchange knowledge as a form of support to the management of customary forests by Kasepuhan Karang in Jagaraksa Village, Lebak Regency, Banten on September 21-23 2018. Kasepuhan Karang Customary Forest was chosen as the location of the field visit because it was one of the first 9 Customary Forests recognized by the Indonesian government in 2016, after the Constitutional Court Decision No. 35 / PUU-X / 2012. This field visit is a series of activities of the 2018 Global Land Forum (GLF), the largest land forum in the world to encourage people-centered land governance. The GLF is a triennial forum organized by the International Land Coalition (ILC), this time in collaboration with Civil Society Organizations and the Government of Indonesia. The ILC itself is a worldwide coalition consisting of various farmer organizations, international organizations, UN agencies, CSOs, researchers and academia. Indonesia was chosen as the host of this global event because of various considerations, including the achievements and programs of the Government and civil society on the implementation of agrarian reform in President Joko Widodo’ administration.
Field Visits that was held for 3 days and carried out at the beginning of the GLF program were the first during the forum’ long history since it was first held in 2003. In the previous GLFs, the field visit had only been a small part of the forum, this time it was designed to become a means of exchange learning for participants. There are four themes raised in this particular Field Visit in Kasepuhan Karang: Indigenous Peoples, Women’s Rights to Land, Youth and Land, and Food Sovereignty. Field Visits in Kasepuhan Karang were attended by participants from Argentina, Bangladesh, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Guatemala, England, Italy, Germany, Kenya, Colombia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, France, Peru, Congo Democratic Republic, and Indonesia. RMI, AMAN, and Kasepuhan Karang are the organizers of this event. The activity is also supported by Tdh Germany through the Our River Our Life program, a Southeast Asian campaign program that focuses on river sustainability and ecological child’s rights.
Person in charge as well as the coordinator of the Field Visit and RMI Senior Campaign and Advocacy Staff, Primeiro Wahyubinatara said this activity was very interesting, especially because all participants and the Kasepuhan Karang community involved were very enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge on forest management, the situation of Indigenous Peoples in their respective countries, even on the similarity of foods between the countries.
“Participants were given the opportunity to share stories with women’s groups that manage Kasepuhan’ Cooperative called Jagaraksa Mandiri, a cooperative established to support tenure security for Customary Forest tenants. Various stories and support are also exchanged with Kasepuhan Karang indigenous youth who are currently pioneering ecotourism as a form of forest management after the recognition of their Customary Forests,” Wahyu said.
This activity was opened with a warm welcome from Lebak Regent – Hj. Iti Octavia Jayabaya, S.E., M.M. in Lebak Regency Pavillion, Rangkasbitung continued with a discussion on recognition of Customary Forests by the former Director General of Social Forestry and Environmental Partnership, Ministry of Environment and Forestry – Dr. Hadi Daryanto, as well as a short visit to the Multatuli Museum and Lebak Batik Museum. “The role of civil society and media journalists in the legal recognition process of the first Customary Forests is vital,” said Dr. Hadi Daryanto.
The second day began with a discussion with partner organizations represented by Executive Director of RMI – Mardha Tillah, M.Sc., and Second Deputy on Political and Legal Affairs of AMAN – Erasmus Cahyadi, S.H., continued with a discussion with Kasepuhan Karang community represented by Jagaraksa Village Head – Jaro Wahid, S.Pd.I, Female Leader and Chairperson of Jagaraksa Mandiri Cooperative – Een Suryani, Youth Leader and Chairperson of Pesona Maranti Eco-tourism Management – Engkos Kosasih. In the evening, participants mingled with the community in a cultural exchange at the ecotourism site of the Customary Forests: Cepak Situ.
The third day, which was the last day of the programme, began with trekking to Kasepuhan Karang Customary Forest, followed by the adopted-tree plantings by the participants. Representatives of Field Visit participants also reported back to the community the learnings and impressions they got during their three days visit at Kasepuhan Karang. The Field Visit ended with the farewell by the Chairman of the Lebak Regency Parliament – Junaedi Ibnu Jarta, S.Hut.
Participant’ Experience and Learning
Giulia Maria Baldinelli from Italy said that she was delighted because Kasepuhan Karang youth were actively involved in maintaining and managing their forests through ecotourism. “In my country, youth prefer to go to the city and work there,” Giulia said.
Meanwhile, Aisah Czarriane, a participant from the Philippines stated that the main reason of the existence of Customary Forests in Lebak was none other than the existence of the Kasepuhan Indigenous People who continue practicing the customary rules in their relationship with their environment, including with their forests. Aisah, who was chosen as the rapporteur for participants from 15 countries said: “the women in the community manage their cooperatives. Although still much to be done so that they can be involved in decision-making processes at the local government level because women’ participation is very important.”
Author: Siti Marfu’ah (ed. Wahyubinatara)
Field Visits in Five Locations (Video by WatchDoc)