Opportunities for improving land tenure and land-use rights in Indonesia

  • Year

    2013 – 2018

  • Location


  • Partners

    Yayasan Penelitian Inovasi Bumi (INOBU), an affiliate of Earth Innovation Institute (EII)

  • Budget

    EUR 200 000

  • Funded by

    European Union


The EU REDD Facility and Yayasan Penelitian Inovasi Bumi (INOBU) have been working together since 2013 to explore opportunities to clarify tenure and land-use rights as a means to improve land use governance in Indonesia‘s West Papua province.

The objective

The objective of this work is to support actions to improve land use governance, sustainable natural resource management and sustainable development in the Indonesian province of West Papua. Actions include generating a better understanding of the timber industry and associated supply chains, identifying pathways to resolve disparities between customary and statutory land tenure, and ensuring that policy instruments, regulations and monitoring systems are in place at the jurisdictional level to ensure good land use governance.

The challenge

West Papua is one of Indonesia’s poorest and most densely forested provinces. Good land-use governance in West Papua has the potential to improve the welfare of millions of rural Indonesians, whilst also setting the economy, both at a provincial and national scale, on a path to higher productivity and prosperity.

The historical rate of deforestation in West Papua is low compared to that of other parts of Indonesia such as Sumatra and Kalimantan. Threats from logging, mining and oil palm development are emerging, however, and unless provincial authorities adopt land-use governance frameworks that support sustainable development the high quality forests will be highly vulnerable.

The governance framework of West Papua differs from most other Indonesian provinces in that it is based on the 2001 Special Autonomy Law, which shifts the balance of authority from the district to the province. However, many of the provisions of Special Autonomy remain to be implemented and earlier laws still apply. The resulting overlaps in local, provincial and national level responsibilities has created tensions in regulating Papua’s forests and other natural resources.

The work described here addresses disputes over land and natural resource rights, which are a key aspect of the tensions in West Papua. The approach adopted focuses on improving participation of the multiple actors involved and supports the provincial government in regularly and systematically engaging with civil society and establishing credible and transparent monitoring mechanisms.

Member of a forest-based community in West Papua, Indonesia

The approach

The project takes a phased approach to explore the opportunities for improved land-use governance. The stages are:

  1. Development of a spatial, economic and social analysis of the timber industry in West Papua
  2. Identification of opportunities for the inclusion and involvement of indigenous communities in forest management and land-use planning
  3. Development of a system for monitoring sustainability at the provincial level, where the most important land-use decisions are taken


  • The project’s 2014 timber industry study highlighted the potential for illegalities within the supply chain and showed that local communities are not meaningfully engaged in the forest management, beyond receiving compensation payments from loggers and providing labour in small-scale logging. The study recommended an approach combining allocation of land to customary groups, support for sustainable forest management and improved forest monitoring.
  • The project’s 2015 livelihoods study investigated how pressure on forests could be reduced and livelihoods improved through allocation of land to customary groups. In addition, the study explored pathways for recognising the rights of customary groups in West Papua under Constitutional Court Decision 35/2012.

Current work

The above studies improved understanding of key land-use governance issues and opportunities in West Papua and fostered closer ties among the provincial and district governments, indigenous representatives and civil society. These stakeholders identified the need for improved land-use governance and in support, the EU REDD Facility is implementing two activities in partnership with INOBU:

  • A study of the implications of Constitutional Court’s Ruling No. 35/2012 on customary land rights and implementation of Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system (SVLK) in customary forests
  • Development of a pilot sustainable development performance monitoring system at the provincial and district levels

Deforestation in West Papua, Indonesia.