Jakarta. Landless local farmers and natural disasters victims who live in the operations areas of state-owned forestry firm Perhutani have been permitted to utilize degraded forests by a decree issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, officials confirmed on Tuesday (10/10).
A social forestry scheme, or IPHPS, under the ministerial decree allows landless farmers organized in associations to gain profit from the forests degraded by Perhutani.
The so-called degraded forests are lands that have been either logged or destroyed by natural disasters like fires.
The IPHPS implementation started in July. Until Sept. 13, the ministry issued seven permits — covering in total 4,969 hectares — to 2,518 households in Bekasi and Bandung (West Java), Pemalang (Central Java) and Probolinggo (East Java).
According to Hadi Daryanto, the ministry's director general for social forestry and environmental partnerships, three state-owned companies will absorb the production from the degraded forests. Plantation firm PTPN will take tobacco and sugar cane produce, the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) will take rice and corn, while state-run fishery company Perum Perindo will absorb the production from shrimp farms.
Several private companies will also be involved.
"Off-takers will be tied up in an agreement with the permit holders," Hadi said, adding that the government's target is to expand the permits coverage to at least 450,000 hectares.
The ministry's senior adviser, San Afri Awang, said the decree will relieve the economic problems faced by local communities.
"In eastern Indonesia, there is no problem. In Java, on the contrary, many communities near forests are still poor," he said.