Accelerating legal recognition and protection of tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples
Tenure Facility pilot initiative in Indonesia
Accelerating legal recognition and protection of tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples
Tenure Facility pilot initiative in Indonesia

The Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) is capitalizing on new political momentum in Indonesia to implement the government’s commitments to recognize and protect the tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples and local communities in Indonesia have been managing forestlands under customary systems for generations, and their rights are enshrined in the country’s constitution. Yet most of their territory remains unrecognized, and 30 percent of the country is under industrial concession, resulting in massive forest fires and significant conflict and inequality. After decades of advocacy, a 2013 Constitutional Court ruling declared that the state had wrongly appropriated Indigenous Peoples’ customary forests and must return them, and the government subsequently committed to transfer management of 12.7 million hectares of forestland to indigenous communities. With technical and financial assistance from the Tenure Facility, AMAN is supporting the drafting and adoption of district-level regulations to recognize rights. Securing rights at the district level immediately benefits indigenous livelihoods, reduces conflict, and strengthens natural resources management. In an innovative new approach, these regulations not only establish procedures for recognizing indigenous lands but also include recognition of specific territories by embedding community maps directly in the legislation. This scalable model is already spreading to other districts and creating bottom-up momentum toward national recognition of indigenous rights.


For the full story of the fight to implement land and forest rights in Indonesia go to the Timeline.

AMAN ignited a movement

a movement that is spreading from district to district

Peers exchanged experiences

using local legislation to secure land rights

AMAN advanced tenure security over 1.5 million hectares belonging to 200 indigenous communities and achieved recognition of 250,000 hectares — in 29 months

“For more than 40 years, Indigenous Peoples of Indonesia have been marginalized, impoverished and criminalized due to lack of recognition of indigenous rights that led to lasting tenurial conflicts. The judicial review filed by AMAN is one effort to reclaim the rights of indigenous peoples in Indonesia.” — Mardi Minangsari, Environmental Investigation Agency, as reported by Mongabay when Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled that customary forests should not be classified as state forest areas, rendering invalid the Indonesian government’s claim to millions of hectares of forest land


To contribute to the legal recognition and protection of tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia


  • Increase readiness at the district level for legal recognition of the tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Strengthen legal and administrative instruments at the national, executive, and legislative levels to advance recognition and protection of the tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples


  • Build understanding of indigenous tenure rights in participating district government institutions and Parliament
  • Provide technical assistance and training for the drafting of local district regulations to recognize and protect tenure rights
  • Generate sociocultural and land use data complementing existing participatory community maps in project sites
  • Strengthen executive commitment to establish a Presidential Task Force on Indigenous Peoples and/or the executive order to implement the Constitutional Court ruling number 35/2012
  • Raise awareness of National Parliament members on tenure rights
  • Advocate for establishment of an Indigenous Peoples’ caucus in Parliament


  • Assisted local governments in drafting 32 district-level regulations, as well as three provincial regulations, that respect the land and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Once passed, these local regulations will lead to titles for over 1.5 million hectares of land and forest belonging to 200 indigenous communities
  • Achieved adoption of five district regulations, involving 26 indigenous communities and recognizing 250,000 hectares
  • Anticipating adoption of two additional district regulations in 2017, involving 52 indigenous communities and recognizing 68,000 hectares
  • Developed participatory maps of 41 community territories covering more than 125,000 hectares
  • Established three indigenous forests covering 6,000 hectares, not only recognized at the district level but nationally as well
  • Trained 86 district-level government officials and indigenous and community organizations in regulatory processes and legal pathways
  • Introduced a new approach to participatory mapping in more than 38 communities to empower women, ensure meaningful participation, and integrate their knowledge and views into maps
  • Strengthened AMAN’s local chapters
  • Accelerated the establishment of the President’s Indigenous Task Force
  • Established an Indigenous Parliamentary Caucus
  • Strengthened comprehensive understanding of the legal and administrative instruments in the Office of the President
  • Supported development of new laws and regulations and the legislative process, and advanced the draft Bill on the Recognition and Protection of Indigenous Peoples
  • Raised public understanding of indigenous issues in Indonesia
“Our objective is to involve more women in community participatory mapping and legislation drafting at local and national level. But our main priority is economic development for women, not only for their benefit but for the benefit of the entire community. This economic development will be based on natural resource management, focusing initially on household.” — Devi Anggraini
, Chair of Perempuan AMAN


  • Through peer-to-peer exchanges, ignited a movement that is spreading from district to district as local authorities adopt the approach of using local legislation to secure Indigenous Peoples’ land and forest rights
  • Strengthened AMAN’s capacity to manage projects and finance, implement monitoring and evaluation systems, partner with local government and civil society organizations, and integrate gender perspectives into community mapping activities
  • Set the stage for faster and more efficient recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to lands and forests by demonstrating how district legislation can fill policy gaps at the national level and build momentum for national tenure policy for Indigenous Peoples’ territorial rights (adat) reform — contributing to a bottom-up push for a national level approach
  • Built momentum and demand for tenure reform at the national, district, and local levels
  • Positioned indigenous groups to protect land, forest, and water, and improve livelihoods, thereby contributing to global climate change and development goals
  • In participating districts, reduced the risk of conflict for communities, government, and private sector actors by clarifying the tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples


From 28 May 2015
To 30 October 2017



Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN)


Indigenous communities, including women and marginalized groups


Indigenous Peoples’ organizations

Civil society organizations

District government

Public sector agencies involved with forest tenure

Office of the President

National Parliament


Indigenous Peoples in Sumbawa seek

recognition of their land forest rights in local legislation

Beginning in Lebak, AMAN ignited

a movement that is spreading from district to district

Lessons learned

  • Flexibility increases project effectiveness by reducing transaction costs and ensuring that a higher portion of the resources reached the intended beneficiaries. For example, the project expanded to new locations. It encouraged learning and the timely use of new insights to inform and adapt project approaches. It also enabled project leaders to make changes when the project encountered political volatility in local legislation processes. Flexibility does not mean lack of planning or discipline, which are also essential to achieve impact and scale.
  • Peer-to-peer learning among members of Parliament is enhanced when learning objectives are clear, such as sharing experiences on a single step in developing legislation, and peers engage repeatedly and in multiple ways, including through site visits and shared work. Facilitators need to simplify the process of peer engagement, and reduce requirements and transaction costs.
  • The political dimension needs to be considered. Drafting local legislation is a highly political task, with interest groups constantly influencing the process. Local Parliament members with experience in similar processes provide a unique perspective because of the tacit knowledge they have about the practicalities of such reforms. It is difficult to capture this tacit practitioner knowledge and package it for broad sharing, which is why peer-to-peer exchanges with an emphasis on practical problem-solving are such a powerful way of sharing knowledge.
  • Land rights projects set in motion complex social and political processes. Project leaders argue against projects that are excessively narrow and tackle only parts of complex problems. Dynamic and complex environments require a holistic project approach to manage interaction among technical, social, and political aspects.
  • AMAN implemented the pilot’s gender perspective in collaboration with its autonomous women’s branch, Perempuan AMAN. It has a strong focus on increasing capacity to collect gender-sensitive data during mapping processes and ethnographic studies. They found that a participatory process may not in itself be sufficient to raise and identify land-related gender needs and concerns, even where they are important for women themselves. To ensure that maps and ethnographic studies reflect gender perspectives, a well-facilitated participatory process may need to be complemented by further gender analysis within which the outcomes of the participatory process can be situated and discussed.

Building on decades of advocacy and lessons learned in the successful Tenure Facility pilot project, this initiative capitalizes on the current momentum in Indonesia for agrarian reform, social forestry, and recognition of indigenous rights. Led by the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), the initiative aims to enhance tenure security over 2 million hectares of land and forest. It will set the stage for scaling up implementation of indigenous and local community land rights by piloting new approaches that can be replicated, feeding lessons into national policy dialogues, and promoting collaborative management of indigenous forests that overlap with conservation lands. The initiative also promotes the rights of women and their full participation in decision making.

AMAN is twinning its strengths with those of two longstanding partners. The Agrarian Renewal Consortium (KPA) is Indonesia’s largest national organization working for farmers. KPA fights for a fair agrarian system and prosperity for poor people. It promotes secure ownership, possession and use of agrarian resources for peasants, fisherman, and Indigenous Peoples. The Indigenous Territory Registration Body ((BRWA) establishes and promotes standards for community mapping and documentation, acts as a single reference for community maps, and registers, verifies, and certifies claims. It feeds data to the Government’s geospatial agency which implements the national ‘One Map’ initiative. One Map’s purpose is to ensure that land rights and use data is integrated and accessible to decision makers to enable efficient and conflict-free land-use planning.

For the full story of the fight to secure the land and forest rights of indigenous and local communities in Indonesia go to the Timeline.

Advancing tenure security over 2 million hectares of land and forest

“Between 50 and 70 million Indigenous People in Indonesia claim rights to 40 million hectares of land and forest. While their rights are recognized by Indonesia's constitution and some laws, their title is not yet secure and they are vulnerable to prosecution, eviction, exclusion, loss of assets and violence. ” — Rukka Sombolinggi, Secretary General of AMAN


To secure tenure rights over 2 million hectares of land and forest and improve the livelihoods of 2,300 indigenous communities and hundreds of local communities



  • Recognize the legal rights of 200 indigenous communities rights over 300,000 hectares of land and forest at the district level
  • Title 500,000 hectares of indigenous territory as indigenous forests and communal land
  • Recognize 600,000 hectares of indigenous territory within the Government’s One Map initiative
  • Register 250,000 hectares of priority locations for agrarian reform within the Government’s TORA system
  • Redistribute 4,000 hectares of land and reinforce rights over an additional 4,900 hectares of land
  • Establish agreements between communities and forest agencies for the collaborative management of 250,000 hectares of forest in indigenous territories
“The Government has set an ambitious target of 9 million hectares for land reform. Progress has been slow because there has been a focus on certifying existing and uncontested rights—and a failure to address the conflict and inequality of access to land. Rather than the current top-down approach, we need to work from the bottom up. We must engage communities in identifying lands with potential for agriculture, setting priorities, and resolving conflicts. The approaches we are testing are highly relevant to our national policy dialogue on land reform. ” — Dewi Kartika, Secretary General of KPA


  • Conduct district-level consultations and discussions with communities, local governments, and other stakeholders on the recognition of indigenous rights
  • Inform decision makers at local government and community levels about opportunities available to secure indigenous and local land rights
  • Train communities on how to document and map indigenous community rights
  • Document and map indigenous community rights
  • Conduct field verification of documents and maps submitted, leading to registration of indigenous community rights in the national database
  • Train community and district governments in agrarian reform
  • Facilitate government verification of lands proposed for agrarian reform
  • Implement participatory land-use planning for indigenous forests to establish communal rights and collaborative management agreements for protected areas
  • Provide legal and advocacy support to district governments to further the development and enactment of regulations recognizing indigenous and local community rights
  • Communicate project achievements, impacts and learning to national policy makers and decision makers
  • Engage with policy makers to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of secure tenure, such as resolving conflicts and providing opportunities for secure livelihoods

“At BRWA we have already registered 777 indigenous territories covering 9.3 million hectares in Indonesia. However, we have have verified and certified only 430,000 hectares. This initiative will enable us to verify and certify many more claims and feed the data into the Government's One Map initiative. Plus, we will register many more indigenous and local claims throughout Indonesia. When government agencies and private sector can find certified claims on our database and One Map, we will be able to reduce conflict over land and establish the conditions for wise and secure investments by local communities and by industries.” — Kasmita Widodo, Indigenous Territory Registration Body (BRWA)

Expected results

  • Land conflict is reduced in participating indigenous territories and local communities
  • Participating district governments share their experiences with other districts which, in turn, extend the results and impact of the initiative
  • Government and private sector understand the benefits of clear and secure tenure
  • National and local decision makers address key bottlenecks in processes for implementing tenure regulations
  • Achievements and lessons inform discussions on proposed new national laws on tenure


Expected impact

  • Improved policies, laws and regulations enable the upscaling of secure tenure rights across Indonesia
  • Indigenous and local communities with secure land rights take advantage of opportunities to improve their livelihoods and quality of life
  • Indigenous and local communities manage their forests sustainably, protecting biodiversity and helping to mitigate climate change


From 15 November 2018
To 31 December 2020



Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN)

Agrarian Renewal Consortium (KPA)

Indigenous Territory Registration Body (BRWA)


Indigenous communities

Local communities

District and national government agencies