With the legal rights to their forest secure, an indigenous community plans for the future

The indigenous Kasepuhan community in Lebak, Indonesia, is one of the lucky few for whom the government has recognized their rights to the lands they have occupied for generations. Now, local youths are hoping to attract visitors from nearby Jakarta and boost coffee production as a means of creating jobs at home. “Now we have this clarity,” says Engkos Kosasih, a young Karang man who hopes to put the Karang forest here on the map for ecotourism. “It’s easy to start making plans for the next five or 10 years.” LEBAK, Indonesia — “This forest is no longer a state forest.” The sign is one of the first things you see when you reach the Karang customary forest area in Lebak district, a few hours by car west of Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. For Salim, the sign, which has stood there since 2016, means vindication after a 15-year campaign for customary land rights. After years of uncertainty, he now feels a sense of independence. “For as long as I have lived here, there has been a name for these forests handed down from generation to generation,” he said. Successive governments repeatedly redrew the boundaries of the Karang forest as […]

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