People‘s settlement area and access to forests has been narrowed by the expansion of palm oil companies, impacting communities which have collectively managed forests for generations who indicate that these lands in effect have been “taken without sufficient compensation or communication with local communities”.
Regarding this, an abundance of national and local rules in Indonesia mandate public involvement or community engagement in the granting of forest concession. In a review of 57 regulations governing land, forest use and local governance of forest, 20 referenced these requirements. However, in practice, these regulations have not been implemented in the interest of the public and local communities, leading to land disputes and conflict. Land disputes and conflicts are only two of the many problems that occur as a consequence of the absence of public participation in the granting of forest concession. Other problems are concerned with food security, people’s welfare, and the environment.
Furthermore, the practice of public participation has not yet been sufficiently developed in Indonesia to facilitate the participation of both women and men equally. In fact, the findings of this study indicate that the practice is still dominated by men even when women play an important role in activities related to forest concession. Women empowerment in the forestry sector can actually create opportunities and result in benefits for both the household and the community, particularly in rural areas. Unfortunately, in many areas, women suffer limitations of access to resources and lack of opportunity to make decisions, decreasing women’s productivity and contribution in the forestry sector. It is necessary, therefore, to encourage public participation, particularly women’s participation, in the process of forest concession allocation.