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Islamic Views on Main Debated-Forest Policies under New Order Government in Indonesia

Author (s): 
Agung Wibowo

Forestry sector has provided an enormous impact for Indonesian economy in the period 1966-1998 of New Order era. Indonesia became the major exporter of tropical wood just around ten years after the government opened forests for foreign and domestic investments. In the next ten years, the priority of forest product export was changed, and Indonesia turned into the largest plywood exporter where its share was approximately 70 and 90 percent to the word market in 1988 and 1993 respectively. Forestry sector has contributed significantly to state development as source of employment, driver for downstream industries and regional economy, and source of state revenue. At the time, ten major forest industry groups occupied more than 27 million hectares of forestland throughout the country. On the other hand, massive timber extractions have increased the rate of deforestation and land degradation, and lead to many adverse effects such as land conflicts between indigenous people and forest companies, the collapse of forest industries due to the lack of raw materials, unpaid companies’ debt and continuously environmental disasters. Many forest-related policies under New Order government actually have generated debates among academics, practitioners, politicians and bureaucrats. The author then examines these policies using sharia law and principles of natural resource management conducted by the companions of the Prophet Muhamamad. The objective of this study is to find out the policies which unfit with Islamic law, so not to be done in the future. As the result, there are seven main policies on forests contrary to the Islamic law, namely: unclear of land ownership boundaries, state owned-forestland allocation to private companies, unsustainable rate of forest harvesting, obscurity of raw material source for private companies, injustice distribution of benefits from forests, log export ban, and decentralization of forest management. These failures then lead to many demages called fasad on forest and people. To overcome the problems the author proposes three basic of sharia laws on forest management as solution. Firstly, all forestlands throughout the country, except private forest and state forest, have to be managed by the state on behalf of the citizens. The government then allocates the land in appropriate uses such as conservation forest, protected forest and production forest based on scientific assessment and state policy. Secondly, only production forest could be distributed to selected citizens (farmers) for their own livelihoods as well as to the state-owned enterprises for state income generating. Thirdly, the earns from forest management must be returned to the people as public services such as free education and health services, cheap public transportation and public security. In this way of management all of citizens will get benefit from forest resource.

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