The complexity and ambiguity of the land tenure system in Indonesia has resulted in tenure insecurity, creating and perpetuating conflicts throughout the country and impacting the livelihoods of millions. Land tenure uncertainty is especially prevalent in forest areas where competing claims are a common underlying cause of disputes among stakeholders, which include governments (District, Provincial, and National), the private sector, local communities, as well as civil society organizations (CSOs) with social justice and environmental concerns.

The number of land conflicts is increasing annually. The National Commission on Human Rights reported that 2,483 complaints related to land conflicts were submitted in 2014 alone.1 Meanwhile, the Presidential Office (Kantor Staf Presiden, KSP) recently reported 2,642 cases of land-use disputes during the first eight months of 2016.2

Legal ambiguities and competing jurisdictions over land and natural resources between various Ministries and between central and local governments further exacerbates the situation. It has been estimated that there are more than 7 million hectares of concessions involve overlapping claims, i.e., cases where concessions have been granted to a combination of palm oil, pulpwood, logging, or coal mining companies.3

Considering the complexity of this issue, the CRU is focused on land and natural resources management conflicts in the forestry and palm oil sectors.


[1] National Commission on Human Rights, Findings, 7.
[2] Moses Ompusunggu, “Jokowi’s Agrarian Reform Agenda Stalls,” The Jakarta Post, October 20, 2016.
[3] Karl Mathiesen, “Greenpeace Reveals Indonesia’s Forest at Risk as Multiple Companies Claim Rights to Same Land,” The Guardian, April 2, 2016.