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Are thousands of citizens of Masurai Subdistrict, Merangin District guilty if they independently utilize area of HPH (forest concession) which has been abandoned since 15 years ago as public coffee plantations? Regulation and legislation ensure cultivation and utilization of forest areas by the people who live in and around the forest (as written in PP No.3 of 2008 jo PP No.6 of 2007, as well as Ministry of Forestry Regulation No.49 of 2008 on Village Forest).

In the proposal of Government of Jambi Province on Jambi Forests which are encouraged to be the pilot area of REDD + (2009), Masurai Valley Forest which most of it has been planted coffee since 15 years ago by the community (which currently is in the productive years and becomes the number one coffee producer in Jambi) , which is located in Merangin District is proposed as a pilot area of Sumatera Forest Carbon Partnership between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of Australia. The rules that become base of the proposal of Masurai Valley Forest for REDD + are not different with the practices of Masurai Valley forest utilization for non timber forest products (NTFPs) productive use  in the form of coffee plants, which is the same rules as mentioned above.

Joint operation of the forest rangers from Jambi Province Forestry Service and Merangin District Forestry Service which involved local NGO activists who do the burning of houses and slashing of productive coffee plants of Masurai District residents in 2009 was very regretted and has harmed the right to earn livelihood for the forest edge community. With the Merangin Regent Decree of eviction which charging Masurai District residents as illegal immigrants, the eviction operation with violence and destruction had caused a loss of 20 houses and 2 hectares of productive coffee plants for the citizens of Masurai.

Village Coffee Forest

Social forestry in accordance to PP No.3 of 2008 and Regulation of Minister of Foresty No.49 of 2008 on Village Forest aims for welfare and forest edge community participation in sustainable forest management and provides direct economic benefits for the community.

In chapter 27, 28, 29 of Regulation of Minister of Foresty No.49 of 2008 on the use of Village Forest about Protection Forest and Production Forest for non timber forest products use by the community, the existence of coffee plantations belong to 4,000 families of Masurai residents is more potential to get Village Coffee Forest governance permit. This is compared to the submission plan of the Masurai Valley Forest as area providing environmental services as carbon sequestration, because in reality, in REDD Plus the economic compensation and ecological benefits for local communities and for regional income are still unclear.

Merangin District Government even Jambi Province Government should have learned more carefully and properly the utilization of forest area in the form of neglected Protection Forest and Production Forest area which are the former HPH (forest concession) by PT.Ijapsin and PT.Serestra which covers 8,000 hectares for public welfare and poverty eradication of forest edge community as the purpose of implementation of Government Regulation No. 3 of 2008 jo Government Regulation No.6 of 2007. Community rights to manage forests (Protection Forest and Production Forest) are guaranteed by legislation. If this does not happen, that means there is really inequity of understanding between central and regional government about the implementation of the rules and legislation.

Can anyone debate and judge the value of neglected forest area utilization which has been proven well managed by Masurai citizens who are economically has proven to provide direct benefits to the community through non-timber forest product which is coffee with the submission plan of the area to something that is not yet clear the benefits socially, economically and ecologically? Only bad governance that would make any improper action on the forestry conflict in the Masurai Valley by displacing productive coffee plantations for REDD Plus.

NGOs Who Burnt Houses

The suspicion of direct involvement of some NGO activists in the burning and Masurai residents’ coffee plants slashing operation by forest rangers from the Jambi Province Forestry Service and Merangin District Forestry Service in 2009 as an law enforcement act should be investigated thoroughly. In the history of forest conflict management between the Government and the people there are no rules that justify civilians to do violence against other civilians, although for reasons of participation to secure the region.  Investigate thoroughly NGOs who burnt houses of Masurai residents! (tJong)


Extpub | by Dr. Radut