The Constitutional Court and Forest Tenure Conflicts in Indonesia

Yance Arizona, Umi Illiyina


With regard to access to land and forest resources, forestry legislation maintains an imbalance between the state, corporations, and local communities. Since the colonial era, forestry regulation has facilitated restrictions on the ability of local communities to benefit from land and forest resources, while also concentrating power in the hands of the state. To uphold state ownership, forestry law criminalizes customary practices, putting local communities at risk. In this sense, conflicts between local communities, corporations, and government agencies arise because of structural issues in the legal framework of laws and regulations that undermine the land rights of local communities. The establishment of the Constitutional Court in Indonesia in 2003 has enabled local communities and NGOs to challenge the Forestry Law. They use the Constitutional Court to support the resolution of forestry tenure conflicts. This article examines the extent to which the Constitutional Court can contribute to the resolution of forest tenure conflicts through judicial review of forest laws. This article discusses twelve Constitutional Court decisions regarding judicial review of the Forestry Law and the Law on Forest Destruction Prevention and Eradication. We found that the Constitutional Court has made a positive contribution to addressing the deficiency of forest legislation regarding local and customary land rights. The implementation of Constitutional Court’s ruling is not, however, a matter of self-implementation. The ruling of the Constitutional Court will only have significance if it is continuously promoted by various stakeholders in support of forest tenure reform to facilitate the resolution of forest tenure conflicts.


Constitutional Court; Customary Land Rights; Forestry Law; Forest Tenure Conflicts; Indonesia

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