Kinipan, Indonesia: Indigenous Peoples, the Forest’s Best Defenders

We are the best defenders of the jungle!, they say. The Kinipan community in Borneo is located in the middle of a dense and verdant tropical forest. It is a living testament to the wise and sensible treatment that the Dayak indigenous people give to nature.

A huge banner stretches over the jungle canopy atop Serayukan Mountain. “Indigenous peoples, the best defenders of the forest“. The flag was unfurled in Borneo by our Save Our Borneo SOB allies together with the indigenous Dayak Laman Kinipan, who live in the Kinipan community.

The message we want to send to the world is that indigenous peoples must be sovereign stewards of their jungles, forests and territories.“explain Pinarsita, Udin and Habibi, from SOB. “The forest on Serayukan Mountain is a testament to the important role of indigenous peoples as guardians of the forest.“.

In Serayukan, the jungle provides communities with food and clean water and is still dense and green, as it is across the island of Borneo. The Kinipan case shows the extent to which indigenous peoples can rationally use and protect the forest.

Until now, only indigenous people have shown that they are capable of protecting, conserving and also using the rainforest. Therefore, the State must give them maximum power over the management of their forests.says Habibi, director of Save Our Borneo.

Palm oil companies are encroaching on ever higher ground. In the Kinipan community itself, a company started cutting down the forest to plant oil palm in 2018, with authorization from the Ministry of Forestry. In Indonesia, forests are owned by the state, and the state grants licenses to thousands of companies while the population has no voice or vote. However, through an arduous process, it is possible for indigenous communities to obtain forest rights or recognition of their traditional ownership.

Authorities have been processing applications for recognition of the Laman Kinipan as an indigenous people for nearly five years. So far without result, due to a multitude of justifications that prevented approval until now.

However, the state reacted violently to the protests. Undaunted, communities defend their forests with such ferocity that Kinipan has become synonymous with the fight for the rainforest in Indonesia.

The Save Our Borneo action is very important to show the whole world how beautiful the Serayukan mountain rainforest is“says Aryo Nugroho of legal aid organization LBH, “We hope to achieve conservation of the forest that has been protected by the Dayak for generations and that it continues to serve as a way of life. And have problematic permissions revoked immediately“.

Bayu Herinata from the Walhi environmental network supports the action because it is important”grant rights to indigenous peoples over their forests and traditional territories. Indigenous peoples manage their forests fairly and sustainably. This model has proven effectiveness and should be recognized and supported because it has proven its success in protecting nature from the threats of deforestation, land exploitation and the climate crisis.“.


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