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.
A Study on Health, Social, and Economic Impacts of Forest Fire’s Haze on Vulnerable Groups (Women and Children) in Pekanbaru, Riau
In the last 18 years, forest fires have occurred almost every year in Pekanbaru City, resulting in haze and smoke and polluting the whole city. The status of the haze is ‘hazardous’ (its Air Pollution Standard Index/ISPU hitting more than 400) for the human life, especially for vulnerable groups such as women, and children. Almost every year the emergency response provided by the local government of Pekanbaru City and the state government are still far from enough to protect the public’s health (women, especially pregnant mothers, infants, and children). Usually women and children are exposed to the haze with neither proper protection (N95 mask) nor an adequate alternative residence during the occurrence of forest fires. Children are forced to be absent from school for weeks because their classes are not equipped with air conditioners and air purifiers.
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 (WRI), supported by World Resources Institute, recently completed a research project on Gender and Forest Concession. This research is a collaborative effort with organisations in Riau, such as Perkumpulan Bunga Bangsa, Riau Women Working Group, Jikalahari, and Scale Up.
This research is grounded on forest issues in Riau Province, which has escalated into one of Indonesia’s most serious environmental problems. This research analyses the extent to which the public, as the main beneficiaries, is actively involved in the process of forest concessions. It also aims to see the people’s formal and informal participations in forest concession and management in Siak and Pelalawan Regencies, Riau. In this research, WRI specifically used a gender-based analysis on forest management policies and public participation regarding forest concession.