Lombok, Indonesia, July 2011

Press Release: « New studies suggest lack of meaningful land rights play key role in conflict, increase in carbon emissions from Indonesia’s forests »

As region prepares for major conference on forest tenure, Rights and Resources Initiative reveals new analyses showing key tropical countries embracing community rights as they post dramatic gains in forest cover. But data show hot spots for conflict as well.

With political leaders and forest experts from across Asia heading to Indonesia later this month for a major international conference on forest policy, the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) presents the latest research and analyses that have an important bearing on subjects likely to come up for discussion at the conference, which will be held July 11-15, 2011 in Lombok.

New Analysis

The Greener Side of REDD+: Lessons for REDD+ from Countries where Forest Area Is Increasing

Summary Brief (English, Bahasa)

Background: A new analysis of five major developing nations—China, South Korea, Viet Nam, India and Chile— that in just 20 years have dramatically reversed their position from losing to gaining vast areas of forest. Researchers pinpoint what they did to achieve such a stunning turnaround and show how their progress could complement and accelerate the goals of a new effort to reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries or REDD+. The analysis also reveals key missteps—chief among them a failure to support tenure reform—that could scuttle progress in forested regions.

An Economic Case for Tenure Reform in Indonesia’s Forests (Background Paper)

A new briefing paper by RRI and independent analyst Dominic Elson summarizing the struggle for tenure rights and current measures to decrease deforestation and emissions across the world, with particular reference to Indonesia. The paper takes into consideration the multiple actors at play in government and civil society who are trying to place these changes in political and livelihoods contexts – too often from conflicting vantage points. This analysis draws on information from various sources to present the current “state of play” in Indonesia—which has emerged as a key country in the global effort to reduce forest-based emissions. Much attention has been given in the global debate to the argument that reducing carbon emissions from forests could greatly slow economic growth in developing countries across the globe. This analysis presents provocative evidence showing that, in fact, the opposite may be true: in countries where equitable tenure regimes are supported, new pathways to a “low-carbon” economy emerge.

What Rights? Measuring the Depth of Indigenous Peoples and Community Forest Tenure: Preliminary Findings from a Legal Analysis of 33 Forest Tenure Regimes in 15 Countries (Policy Brief)

This brief presents some preliminary results of a legal analysis conducted by RRI to provide a fuller picture of global tenure rights of forest peoples. This analysis unpacks the collective rights to forestland and forest resources held by communities and codified in law. This legal analysis complements RRI’s tenure distribution data by clarifying what legal rights are associated with community forest tenure regimes. Due to the complexity and specificities of national legislation, and the goal of creating a comparative database of rights, this analysis uses the “Bundle of Rights” conceptual framework as its foundation. The analysis assesses whether communities can access forest resources; make decisions over forest management; commercially harvest timber or other forest products; exclude outsiders from their forests; whether the tenure regimes confer the right to lease, sell, or use forests as collateral; and, whether the law guarantees communities due process and fair compensation if the state revokes these rights.

Media Contacts

To arrange interviews with the report’s authors, or for more information, please contact:

Coimbra Sirica

[email protected]

+1 301 943 3287

Jenna DiPaolo

[email protected]

+1 202 412 0331

Press Resources


Indonesia is an ideal country to host discussions of new approaches to forest tenure, governance and enterprise because it has the largest land base, population, and forest cover in Southeast Asia. At the same time, its historically high deforestation rates, land tenure issues, and substantive concessions to forest industries have brought global attention to the nation’s high emission of greenhouse gases.

Recently, however, the Government of Indonesia has initiated a system of people’s plantations, and has begun to take an active role in efforts to mitigate climate change and to recognize community and indigenous ownership. It also has become a major focal point of the REDD+ process with its pledge to reduce emissions by as much as 41 percent, an effort aided by a US $1 billion commitment from Norway.

There is hope that the event in Lombok may well represent a tipping point for the relationship between indigenous people and their forests, and the governments in Indonesia and throughout the region. At this moment in time, there is a new opportunity for harmony despite the cacophony of so many disparate voices.