Article originally appeared on REDD-Monitor

When Australia announced the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership, in September 2007, Australia’s then-Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer said that the project, “was an example of practical climate change action that could deliver immediate and tangible benefits”. What he didn’t say was who would get those benefits.

The A$100 million (including finance from Australian mining corporation, BHP Billiton) project covers a total area of 120,000 hectares, including an avoided deforestation component and an area to be rehabilitated, part of the infamous Suharto-era Mega Rice Project that clearcut one million hectares of forest in the mid-1990s with the aim of creating new rice fields.

It was not long before criticism of the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership emerged, however. In November 2009, Walhi, Friends of the Earth Australia and AidWatch released a report titled “What a Scam! Australia’s REDD offsets for Copenhagen”. Questions were asked in Australia’s Parliament about the project. In February 2011, Yayasan Petak Danum, (Water Land Foundation, an NGO in Central Kalimantan) wrote to an Australian delegation that visited the project. While they received an answer (of sorts), the problems that they raised have not gone away.

Now, a statement from Mantir Adat (Custom Keepers) in Kapuas District in Central Kalimantan demands that the Australia-Indonesia Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership be stopped in the customary area of the Dayak people in Central Kalimantan. The statement is posted below in English and Bahasa Indonesia.

UPDATE – 25 July 2011: The ten people that signed this statement subsequently signed another statement saying that this statement is “not true”: Another statement about the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership. Previous statement “not true”.

Statement of our Stance
Mantir Adat (Custom Keepers) of Kadamangan Mantangai
District of Kapuas Central Kalimantan

Stop the Indonesia- – Australia REDD+ Project
In the Customary Area of the Dayak People in Central Kalimantan

We the undersigned Mantir Adat (Custom Keepers) of Kadamangan Mantangai, in the District of Kapuas in Central Kalimantan met and had serious discussions on 7th and 8th June 2011 at the village of Katunjung in the sub-district of Mantangai. Our statement is based on findings from the monitoring and evaluation of the development of the Indonesia- Australia REDD+ project known as the Kalimantan Forest and Climate Partnership (KFCP) since 2009 to the present in June 2011. We hereby provide our assessment and comments with respect to this pilot project:

1. Since the conception of the REDD+ project way before any consultation at the field level, the location as shown on the map then already suggested that it would be situated within the customary land involving 14 villages and hamlets in the sub-districts of Timpah and Mantangai in the district of Kapuas. The location of the 120,000 hectares project area had already been decided without notifying the community or having any consultation with the Dayak community. The site chosen was stated in the letter dated 20th December 2010 No. KT.12/II-KIM/2010 which was signed by the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia.

2. The REDD+ project has brought unrest and conflicts to the community. People who are affected by this project felt that they have lost the strong sense of community and kindred spirit because of the project. People are suspicious of each other and the tranquillity and peace which we once had in the villages are gone.

3. The implementation of the REDD project often bring pressure to the community – both physical and psychological because of the promise of millions of Rupiah to those who would support the project. This kind of model is intimidating as it is fuelled by the promise of money. This is not good for the community where in accordance with our custom, we have encouraged the people to rehabilitate and reforest the one million hectares of land damaged by the ex-Mega Rice Project in the spirit of community co-operation and self-reliance.

4. The implementation and direction of the REDD program through the use of the KFCP team, namely BOS Foundation, CARE International and the University have mostly added pressure to local people that their customary access and use of the forest, traditional farming, fishery and other livelihoods activities in the REDD project area have been ignored and eventually cease.

5. Right from the beginning, the REDD project had never given any written assurance that customary land tenure rights of the Dayak community would be recognised. There is however more pressure on the Dayak Ngaju community to recognise the existence of the REDD project site. This is an unfair deal which we cannot accept. The REDD project is clearly a foreign project owned by Australia to offset industrial pollution/dirty emission from Australia. When in reality, we the Dayak Ngaju people who were born and bred in this land way before this country became an independent state had never been given the justice of the land which we have been dependent on for our survival since time immemorial.

6. The REDD project has made many sweet promised to the Dayak Ngaju customary landowners. However, all of these promises were empty at the grassroots level. Reports submitted to the top only told good things which are not true. This is an act of manipulation of the REDD project towards customary landowners.

With regards to the development of the REDD project to date, the stance adopted by the Mantir adat are as follows:

1. We the Mantir Adat of Kadamangan Mantangai, district of Kapuas in the province of Central Kalimantan, reject REDD projects because it is a threat to the rights and the livelihoods of the Dayak community in the REDD project area.

2. Urgently appeal to Bapak President of the Republic of Indonesia (RI), Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Prime Minister of to stop the project that has violated our rights and threatened the basis of survival for the Dayak community.

3. Appeal to Bapak President RI Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono to immediately confirm through a Presidential Decree the rights of the Dayak community to their traditional land in the Aliran Sungai (DAS) Kapuas region, and to give due recognition that the Dayak community has long since been addressing the crisis of climate change through viable solution for the Central Kalimantan peatland.

4. Bapak President RI. Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono to immediately recognise the initiatives of the Dayak customary landowners in peatland management through revegetation, rehabilitation, river management, food garden allocation, customary forests. Our long association and sustainable management of peatland should not be forgotten and ignored in any quest for solution to address the crisis of climate change, over and above REDD mechanism.

The Dayak community has for a long time protected the natural resources of peatland based on local wisdom. We do not need the aid of REDD mechanism. We do not need promises of any kind. We have been doing what we have done as a solution to the climate crisis for the safety of all human beings in the world – not to seek carbon funds. What we really need at this point in time are free health services, free education, improvement to our skills and knowledge and access to relevant training; access to technology that are relevant to our needs as well as policy that support our effort to rehabilitate fired damaged gardens and forests.

This is our stance which we would like to present to you. We thank you for your attention and we look forward to working in co-operation.

Katunjung, 8 June 2011

Signed by:
1) Umbie Ipe Desa Mantangai Hulu, 2) Arthen. U. Sampah Desa Mantangai Tengah, 3) Yanmar Kurius Desa Kalumpang, 4) Sambung Desa Sei Ahas, 5) H. Arben anus Desa Katunjung, 6) Mudin Jaman Desa Katunjung, 7) Kanisius. B Desa Katunjung, 8) Tinus Desa Tumbang Muroi, 9) Zuda Dusun Tanjung Kalanis, 10) Simpei Desa Katimpun,

For the attention and cc of:
1. Bapak Ketua DPR RI di Jakarta
2. Bapak Ketua Parlement Australia di Australia
3. Bapak Menteri Kehutanan RI di Jakarta
4. Bapak Menteri Lingkungan Hidup RI di Jakarta
5. Bapak Ketua BAPPENAS RI di Jakarta
6. Bapak Ketua Dewan Nasional Perubahan Iklim (DNPI) di Jakarta
7. Bapak Ketua Dewan Kehutanan Nasional (DKN) di Jakarta
8. Bapak A. Teras Narang Gubernur Kalimantan Tengah
9. Bapak Ketua DPRD Provinsi Kalimantan Tengah di Palangkaraya
10. Bapak Ketua Bappeda Provinsi Kalimantan Tengah
11. Bapak Ketua Dinas Kehutanan Provinsi Kalimantan Tengah
12. Bapak Ketua DPRD Kabupaten Kapuas di Kapuas
13. Bapak Kepala Dinas Kehutanan Kabupaten Kapuas di Kapuas
14. Bapak Kepala Bappeda Kapuas di Kapuas
15. Bapak Ketua Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara d Jakarta
16. Bapak Direktur Eksekutif WALHI Nasional di Jakarta
17. Bapak Direktur Eksekutif WALHi Kalteng di Palangkaraya
18. Bapak Ketua AMAN Kalteng di Palangkaraya
19. Bapak Direktur Yayasan Petak Danum di Kapuas
20. Bapak Ketua LSM di Jaringan kerja LSM Petak Danum Nasional dan Daerah
21. Bapak Camat Mantangai di Kecamatan Mantangai
22. Bapak Camat Timpah di Kecamatan Timpah
23. Bapak Damang Kadamangan Mantangai dan Timpah
24. Bapak Kepala Desa di sepanjag DAS Kapuas di Tempat
25. Arsip.

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