Women Research Institute

Promoting women leadership and inclusive,
gender-based, and sustainable natural resource governance

Editorial

  • The Impacts of Forest Concession on Women’s Lives

    The data from Global Forest Watch (GFW) records a massive loss of tree covers in peat lands in Pelalawan Regency and Siak Regency, Riau, which could lead to prolonged forest fires. Currently, the proportion of degraded forests is much larger than the proportion of natural ones, potentially causing an extended impact on women who are highly dependent on forest conditions. The increasingly fast rate of deforestation each year is triggered by the large number of concessions granted to plantation and forest-based companies, thus limiting the people’s access to forests and natural resources.

Women Research Institute (WRI) is currently running a data-based advocacy traning program to promote gender equality in the effort to overcome problems related to forest concessions. The implementation of this program is supported by Global Forest Watch, a subsidiary of World Resource Institute. This training program has been carried out in two districts in Riau Province namely the District of Siak and the District of Pelalawan as a follow-up of WRI’s previous researches on gender, transparency, and participation in concessions.  


Through our previous researches, WRI found that even though women play significant roles in the management of the environment and land, they were often not included in the meetings discussing policies related to environment and land management. Women seldom got the access to direct information while they experienced direct impacts of the decisions made.


Women Research Institute views that involving women in decision making process and advocacy in the settlement of problems related to the management of the environment and land as an opportunity that still needs to be worked out. Quoting Etta F.E. (1999) in a journal titled ‘Women Participation in Environmental Protection and Management: Lessons from Plateau State, Nigeria”, women, within social environment, often play the role as the one responsible for managing domestic and household needs. Therefore, it can be inferred that women interact more with the environment compared to men. Consequently, as women spend more time at home, women tend to suffer more from the degrading qualities of their residential areas as well as the city they live in. This results in heavier burden especially when these women belong to poor families in which health faciltities and infrastructures are lacking.  

This condition is made even worse with the worrying condition of Indonesian forest, necessitating an effort to foster transparency and participation in the effort to resolve problems related to forest concession. In the end of May 2015, moratorium for forest concession permits had ended. However, the five-year moratorium was deemed by many as insufficient to “fix” the problem of forest destruction due to the fact that there were already way too many concession permits issued in the area which were actually impractical.

Based on data from Global Forest Watch (GFW), in 2000, the total tree cover area in Indonesia was 161.000.000 hectares. From 2001-2013, Indonesia lost its tree cover area as much as 16.884.670 hectares while the growth of tree cover area from 2001 to 2012 was only 6.970.546. In 2013, Indonesia lost as much as 1.041.710 hectares of its tree cover area.

Among the things that triggered the loss of tree cover area were forest fires caused by land conversion into area for timber production and plantation. During the fire in March 2014, GFW detected 1449 fire points in Sumatera with a high-level of confidence. Similar to the great fire in June 2013, the detected fire points were concentrated in Riau Province. In the 2014 fire, almost half of the areas with fire points were located witihin areas covered by concessions for palm oil plantation, Forest Management Permits (HPH), and Industrial Forest (HTI). This was similar with the 2015 forest fires in which half of the fires occurred in areas covered by concessions for palm oil plantation, HPH, and HTI.

Women Research Institute continues its commitment to encourage greater public participation in the management of forest and land, particularly the participation of women through building the capacity of women to conduct data-based advocacy for the settlement of problems related to forest.

On August 24th and 26th 2015, Women Research Institute conducted a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) and Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF) to identify problems related to forest and urge for an immediate advocacy. FGD was conducted with women groups in Sungai Berbari Village (District of Siak) and Teluk Binjai (Pelalawan District).

The findings from the FGD were then discussed in the MSF with village representatives (Sungai Berbari Village and Teluk Binjai Village), representatives of related CSOs such as Perkumpulan Bunga Bangsa (PBB), Riau Women Working Group (RWWG), WALHI, Scale Up, Jaringan Kerja Penyelamat Hutan Riau (JIKALAHARI), Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Riau, Institute of Social and Economic Change of Riau (ISEC), Lembaga Advokasi Lingkungan Hidup Riau (LALH), as well as representatives of related government agencies namely Women Empowerment, Child Protection, and Family Planning Agency, National Land Agency, and Regional Environmental Agency. This MSF drew together three important elements of the society which were representatives of the government, representatives of local community, and representatives of CSOs to clarify data and information related to forest management in order to obtain balanced data.    

GFW Data-based Advocacy Training was held so that women could have the necessary understanding and skills to strengthen, develop, implement, and evaluate their advocacy strategy to effectively foster greater transparency in the granting of forest concession permits which often also include community’s land and plantation in the coverage of the permits.

The data proposed for advocacy purposes are taken from GFW, an online platform which provides immediate detection of changes in tree cover, fires, and other information. From this training, we plan to make a GFW data-based advocacy training module.

This data-based advocacy training involved women and representatives of CSOs who provided assistance for local advocacy. We hope that future advocacy will be done more effectively and be based on gender perspective. ***


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