The Indonesian government will soon require logging companies to show that the forests they log aren’t used by other people.
In Indonesia, forest land is owned by the government, but local communities often depend on these forests for fruits and nuts, firewood, building material, and other products.
In some cases, forests may have been used by generations of local people.
But because the government owns the land, it grants forests to logging companies.
Logging companies may then come to the forest and cut down all the trees. If local people resist, the logging company may use force &8212; even violence — to evict them.
These logging companies usually produce timber or paper and cardboard. Sometimes after cutting the trees, they plant they establish plantations to produce palm oil or rubber. In either case, most of the profits go to the company, not local communities.
Therefore local people often oppose such logging concessions. They fear the loss of resources on which they depend.
Because of increasing conflict between logging companies and local communities, the Indonesia government says it will now require logging companies to show that no one is using the land before they start logging.
If people are found to be using the land, the logging company will have to come to an agreement with the community. This may lead to the logging company sparing some trees or giving local people jobs. Or the logging company may be prohibited from cutting down any trees.
In other parts of Indonesia where local people control the rights to forests, deforestation is lower. This is because people tend to take better care of things that belong to them.
Therefore the decision to empower local people may help better protect Indonesia’s forests.