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.
The objective of this research is to map out the forms and opportunities of public participation in the process of forest management, especially in forest concessions, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), spatial planning, food security, and conflict management. The analyses are based on a gendered perspective as there is still a serious lack of forestry’s workforce demographics, while reliable statistics on that data in relation to women’s participation are almost non-existent.
This research uses a qualitative research method, through literature review, policy analysis, semi-structured interview, and Focus Group Discussions (FGD). The interviews and FGDs are carried out for subjects of research that represented Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), the public, and related state institutions. As a preliminary study, this research takes place in two areas in Siak Regency and Pelalawan Regency; both of which were selected based on their high number of fire locations and forest concession-related conflicts.
Women Research Institute’s findings reveal that the gender division of labour in both locations has caused many to unrecognise women’s participation in forest management. The research also finds that women are also actively involved in forest management, as well as conflict resolutions related to forest and land-related conflicts in their village.
The lack of awareness on women’s contribution to forest and land management thus caused women to be excluded from opportunities of joining various workshops and meetings related to forest and land management.
This finding also demonstrate the importance of capacity building for women in Sungai Berbari Village, Siak Regency, and Teluk Binjai Village, Pelalawan Regency, in terms of enhancing their knowledge on advocacy skills and regulations related to forest management. It is hoped that this can establish justice for the poor and marginalised, particularly women, and that civil society organisations can support them in advocating and understanding the mechanism for public participation in the management of natural resources in general and forests in particular.