Women Aspiration for ICCAs in Mekar Raya Village

Women Aspiration for ICCAs in Mekar Raya Village

Indonesia - 06 July, 2022

The Working Group for Indigenous Community Conservation Areas (ICCAs) in Indonesia - known as WGII - is now an established coalition of national CSOs, recognised as the leading platform for ICCA issues in Indonesia.

The people of Mekar Raya Village in Simpang Dua, Ketapang, West Kalimantan, are currently preparing their application to the ICCAs to register to WGII.

Serina Greta, 37, Head of Lawe sub-village, represents the women’s group, who use tembawang, or agroforestry, in the proposed area for many purposes in their daily lives. The women collect woven materials to produce handicrafts or mats. They also pick fruits during the harvest season such as durian, cempedak, kandaria, langsat, duku, mentawa and pekawai. Furthermore, they get their water from the springs inside the proposed area. They rely on the benefits this area provides.

However, pressure from illegal mining and palm oil expansion by corporations, threaten this existence. “They want to convert the land to palm oil expansion areas while some illegal miners are silently destroying the area,” says Serina. The community, especially the women, are worried they will not be able to access what they need. The tembawang locations in their area have remained intact so far, but are not yet legally acknowledged by the government. The potential for ecotourism has not yet been developed, nor have the agriculture and plantation sectors, which need quality improvement.

“We disagree with the conversion of our land from tembawang to palm oil or to mining and we know the impact is destroying the protected area,” Serina adds. But the younger generation might not be as persevering and the companies use various means to persuade people to sell their land. “We need the support from GLA to obtain some sort of legality for this area and capacity strengthening for the community to make people understand the importance of protecting and managing the area, especially important areas such as the spring water and tembawang,” she added.

With the support from GLA, they are hopeful they can keep the area protected. Tropenbos Indonesia is proposing to protect around 200 hectares of tembawang area (35 locations) and 13 spring water areas. This also includes seven traditional sacred locations that incorporate the natural habitat of the tiger, regarded as the Dayak tribe’s ancestor, making sure the tiger habitat will be closed, even for agriculture. In April 2022 field visits were organised to measure the habitat of the tiger.

Screen Shot 2022-07-06 at 10.49.33.pngPhoto credit: ICCA facilitation process (FGD) in Mekar Raya Village, Simpang Dua Sub-district, Ketapang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia - Tropenbos Indonesia

Serina hopes the inventory of the cultural sites can be made. To get a better understanding of the requirements to apply for ICCA, she participates actively in the discussions. She realises that the most important thing, by being registered as ICCA, people in her village can prevent the area from being converted into palm oil and from being destroyed by illegal mining activity.