22 Oktober 2020

Encroachment in Masurai Valley

News on encroachment activities in the Masurai Valley, Merangin District, Jambi Province blowing hard. The encroachment occurs in the Masurai Valley has already extremely massive and have become serious threats to forests and biodiversity in Kerinci landscapes. Integrated and cross institutional coordination should be enforced involving police, army, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Local Government (of Merangin, of Jambi, South Sumatra and Bengkulu province), Merangin Parliament, Jambi Parliament, and South Sumatra and Bengkulu.

Notes from a field trip at the end of September 2014 showed that in the village of Tuo, of Masurai Valley, encroachment and forest clearing activities are still ongoing. Community in Tuo village as the local “native” has been pushed culturally and socially by immigrants which estimated to have reached 15,000 people in this district.

Land clearings looks enormously and stark. Tree trunks of wood collapsed. Semi-permanent houses which indicates a newly created buildings have sprung up in Masurai.

By naked eye, the economic conditions of migrants who came massively since 2006 from South Sumatra and Bengkulu looks more prosperous than the local people. It will create a potential social jealousy in Masurai Valley, but local people can not do anything because they are outnumbered by newcomers who is quite a lot and very solid. Local communities, could only set up some rules which disallow immigrants expanding into their traditional territory. Somehow it also helped restrain the clearance onto national park.

Learning from the failure of law enforcement against encroachers in November of 2013 (in which 60 team members joined in joint operations under the coordination of Kerinci Seblat National Park and has arrested 5 encroachers, but in the end the patrol team surrounded by hundreds of mass and was forced to release the perpetrator) and increased intimidation against team members, AKAR Network team in Merangin made some adjustment in patrolling method by conducting patrol in the area that is not too ‘sensitive’ (in the area with high intensity and the high presence of squatters). To protect forest areas that still intact (especially village forest and forests where the patrol team members live), they conduct intelligence operations to collect information to support law enforcement efforts by government.

Indeed, the right to earn a decent living in this freedom era is the right of every citizen. But the destruction of forests without obeying laws can not be justified. The government is expected to act more firmly and all forms of illegal activities should be enforced according the law. However, problems settlement in the field that have been chaotic should be done wisely by minimizing friction and social impacts that may occur. Encroachers also Indonesian citizen whose right to earn a decent living also guaranteed. But when violations occur, law should be enforced because if left unchecked it would damage national legal order. It is appropriate that such cases should be handled more seriously by the various parties.

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