Violent teak forests dispute resolved
A long-running violent dispute between the world’s largest teak producer and Indonesian forest communities has been resolved, resulting in the recertification of two Indonesian forest districts by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
The Forest Trust (TFT) said that firearms had been laid down by forest guards, employed by state-owned teak producer Perum Perhutani on Java, while forest communities they were in conflict with have also dropped their guns.
Perhutani lost its FSC certification 10 years go after forest guards were accused of killing dozens of villagers over illegal logging disputes, hitting the reputations of companies that bought Indonesian teak.
European and North American customers, through the TFT, agreed to fund the cost of solving the problems and pave the way for forest recertification.
The “drop the gun” programme has resulted in a 65% decline in illegal logging and a 70% increase in community involvement.
TFT and Perhutani visited nearly 2,000 villages, resulting in local people guarding trees from illegal logging and communities receiving the equivalent of US$19m from the sale of timber and non-wood forest products. Perhutani also established small enterprises and farms for communities.
All of Perhutani’s 57 forest districts, covering 2.4 million ha, have been declared “gun free”.
TFT believes the programme could serve as a model for averting conflicts over million of hectares of contested forest lands in South America, Africa and South-east Asia, providing an alternative to climate change funding schemes such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), where countries are paid not to harvest forests.
TFT said it had previously done similar work with Congolaise Industrielle des Bois in the Congo Basin.