Illegal Mining in Customary Forest

Hundreds people of Desa Baru, Pangkalan Jambu, Merangin District burst their anger to illegal gold mining activities within their customary forest. They set fires to all equipment found in their customary forest on February 8th, 2018. According to them, this illegal gold mining activity has been warned for times to stop running, yet, it results nothing. It kept carrying out within their area, the customary forests. Thus, this triggers their anger and fire all the equipment they find placed within their forests. This issue, the illegal gold mining activities, also known as PETI, is an old matter which happens all the time, as if it keeps going on and on.

The gold mining has scrapped the edge of rivers belong to this area while the communities could do nothing to stop, although it has adverse impact on the ecology, social, and culture, this activity even has taken few of their life. Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI) WARSI recorded in 2017 that there were seven people died because of this illegal gold mining (PETI) activity. Meanwhile, 22 people died in 2016. In fact, declining number of victims caused by PETI from 2016 to 2017 cannot approve that the issue went down, yet more problems even rose. We see that, more illegal gold mining carried out means more devastated area will we find, particularly in Merangin, Sarolangun and Bungo districts.

Based on Satellite Image Landsat 8 obtained by GIS Division of KKI WARSI in 2017, Sarolangun has 13,762 hectares of damaged area as the result of illegal gold mining, while Merangin has 9,966 hectares and Bungo has 4,094 hectares. To sum up, total devastated area because of this gold mining is 27,822 hectares. This analysis reveals that the area for illegal mining is increasing more than 100% in Merangin and Sarolangun Districts. It is estimated that half of total area are farming land, an area where the local societies depend their food resource on.  

Illegal gold mining activities run not only in non-forest state, but also in forest areas; either production forest or conservation area. From the analysis conducted, this illegal activity has started to scrape production forest, the Kerinci Seblat National Park in Merangin District and Bukit Limau Protected Forest in Sarolangun District while getting in to Pangkalan Jambu Customary Forest. Firing the mining equipment indeed has proven how angry the society is since this activity is troubling them. Now a simple question would only be “will the government and stakeholders push and pull this issue and hereafter, trigger a new conflict among the societies?”

WARSI, a non-governmental organization which primarily focuses on environment conservation and sustainable natural resources management, has long advocated and campaign a concrete action the government should bring to hold and preserve the sustainable natural resources. Thereupon, high commitment of all parties at local level to the high level to stop all illegal gold mining activities is very crucial. At the same time, they need to place an area for mining location only to the societies and provide them training on mining activity while giving an eye to their ecology and environment which could guarantee their prosperity directly.

The recent condition is awfully different since the average income of the mining was given and provided to the brokers living far from the location. Whereas, the communities will bear the effect of devastated ecology and environment while the relevant brokers will not, they do not see and feel any effect of devastated ecology around and will definitely go away right after they get what they need from the illegal mining. 

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