Regional autonomy

Down to Earth No 68  February 2006

The following report is based on a DTE staff visit to Aceh in December 2005

Looking over the vast expanse of mudflats that stretched to the horizon, I asked where the village had been. The man pointed towards the sea. Apart from the few ragged remaining coconut palms, it was indistinguishable from the land which had been paddy fields and shrimp ponds.

One year on from the December 26th quake-tsunami disaster and the scale of the reconstruction work needed is all too apparent.

Down to Earth No 68   February 2006

Will legal action help save forests and livelihoods in the Mentawai Islands? The following is adapted from an Indonesian language report by WALHI West Sumatra and interviews with Yayasan Citra Mandiri, an NGO which focuses on Mentawai issues.

The Mentawai Islands, off Sumatra's western coast, are renowned for the unique culture of their indigenous communities and the rare species that have evolved in this isolated rainforest archipelago.

Down to Earth No. 55, November 2002


Smoke from forest fires and land clearance has choked Central Kalimantan for three months, causing serious health, transport and economic problems. West Kalimantan and Riau have also been badly affected.

The problems have been worst in Central Kalimantan, which has been hit even harder than in 1997. Palangkaraya has suffered from thick smog continuously since mid-August. By October there were 400 to 500 hot spots (clusters of fires) around the provincial capital.

Down to Earth No 51 November 2001

Communities who depend upon coastal resources for their livelihoods are being pushed aside - sometimes by violent means - as entrepreneurs rush to maximise profits from the seas.

Down to Earth No 51 November 2001

Separate special autonomy laws have now been passed for Aceh and West Papua. The laws were originally designed to offer something over and above the 'normal' autonomy now being implemented in other regions. The aim was to undermine independence movements wanting complete separation from Indonesia by granting local populations a greater measure of self-government.

Down to Earth No 50 August 2001


Protected areas such as Siberut are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation - legal and illegal - due to Indonesia's prolonged economic crisis, coupled with regional autonomy and the devolution of revenue gathering.

The island of Siberut has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1981 due to its rich forests, unique wildlife and the traditional lifestyle and beliefs of the indigenous people.

Down to Earth No 50 August 2001


The campaign to stop illegal logging has become a key focus for Indonesia's new forestry minister, but the problem is immense and can only be properly tackled, say NGOs, by a complete overhaul of forest management in Indonesia.

Illegal logging has reached unprecedented levels in post-Suharto Indonesia, with up to 56.6 million cubic metres of logs being felled without permits each year.