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Hutan Harapan Forest conflict in Jambi, Indonesia

Set up by international NGO’s to serve REDD+ and forest conservation, the Hutan Harapan forest has provoked conflicts over access to land with local indigenous small-holders. Tensions between conservation NGOs and peasant movements have emerged.


In relation to recent trends on efforts of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), Indonesia’s tropical forests have received much attention by conservation organizations. Within this context, the first Indonesian ecosystem restoration concession (ERC) was granted by the Ministry of Forestry (MOF) to the private conservation company PT. Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (REKI), set up by a consortium of domestic and international conservation NGOs, namely Birdlife International, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Burung Indonesia. With the aim to halt the degradation and deforestation of the biodiversity-rich but threatened lowland rainforests in Jambi and South Sumatra, REKI established the Hutan Harapan Project, covering an area of 100,000ha.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Hutan Harapan Forest conflict in Jambi, Indonesia
State or province:Jambi and South Sumatra
Location of conflict:Tanjung Lebar village, Muaro Jambi district
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Land
Carbon offsets
Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The ecosystem restoration concession was issued in 2008 to the private company Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (REKI), which is a joint project of the conservation NGOs Burung Indonesia, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and BirdLife International. Also known as Hutan Harapan or the “Rainforest of Hope,” the concession encompasses over 98,000 ha of Sumatran lowland rainforest.

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Project area:100,000ha
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:around 3,000 villagers directly affected
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:PT. Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (REKI) (REKI) from Indonesia - ecosystem restoration
Singapore Airlines from Singapore - airline, transport
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Forestry
International and Finance InstitutionsRoyal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSBP) (RSBP) from United Kingdom - conservation
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Sirekat Petani Indonesia (SPI)/La Via Campesina
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Peasant movement and customary leader of Batin Sembilan indigenous. Other ethnic groups involved are Javanese, Batak and Melayu Jambi.
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Local NGOs use the Hutan Harapan conflict as a showcase to criticize REDD+ at global venues
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Unknown
Development of alternatives:As part of the Via Campesina delegation, Sarwadi Sukiman, a small farmer from Sumatra (Indonesia) shared his experience in the United Nations climate talks. They maintained that REDD+ allows companies to prevent family farmers to use the land to produce the food that is needed to feed their communities and their countries. Deforestation, which is one of the main causes of global warming, is not made by peasants and indigenous people, but by large companies that are given the right to commercially exploit the forest. Therefore, forests should not be managed industrially by transnational companies. They should be used by villagers who can manage them in a sustainable way. The peasants of Via Campesina believe that instead of getting lost in carbon trading schemes, the conference should focus on implementing new initiatives aiming at changing the model of production. Local production and people based protection of resources should be encouraged because it uses less fossil energy and it maintains livelihoods and local communities.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The mobilisation was mainly done through lobbying activities at the global platforms of climate change and aimed at raising awareness about the potentially negative impacts of REDD+ on local livelihood. No specific outcome or final agreement was sought. It's therefore difficult to assess if environmental justice was served in this case.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Hein, J., Faust, H., 2014, Conservation, REDD+ and the struggle for land in Jambi, Indonesia. Pacific Geographies #41 • January/February 2014
[click to view]

Thomas A. Walsh, Yoppy Hidayanto, Asmui and Agus Budi Utomo, Ecosystem restoration in Indonesia’s production forests: towards financial feasibility.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

REDD+ monitor website
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Video on the forest project, produced by REKI
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Hao Phan, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
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