Indonesian development policies have for the past several decades focused on rapid economic growth, without a targeted strategy to benefit the least powerful groups, such as landless and land-poor agricultural laborers in the densely populated agricultural districts and the equally poor forest-dwelling communities in the less populated islands.
- For decades the Papua region in Indonesia has remained the country’s least-understood, least-developed and most-impoverished area, amid a lack of transparency fueled by a strong security presence.
- Activists hope their new website, Mata Papua, or Eye of Papua, will fill the information void with reports, data and maps about indigenous welfare and the proliferation of mines, logging leases and plantations in one of the world’s last great spans of tropical forest.
For more than a half-century, Indonesia's government-backed economic development has been based on exploiting and exporting the vast natural resource wealth in its waters and forests— often to the detriment of indigenous people who historically occupied these areas. This exploitation has also gone against the customary laws of those indigenous people.
- In August, the village of Taba Padang in southwest Sumatra was recognized by the Indonesian government for practicing the best community-based forestry management this year.
- Less than a decade ago, however, many of its residents were being arrested for planting in a nearby forest, deemed off-limits because of its protected status.
- In 2010, newly elected village chief Yoyon embarked on a years-long process to obtain state approval to allow the farmers to manage nearly 10 square kilometers of land in the forest.