WRI Indonesia facilitated participatory mapping of Papua’s Indigenous territories to secure communities’ land tenure and help protect 300,000 hectares of customary forests.

The Challenge

More than 200 Indigenous groups in Papua, Indonesia rely on land, natural resources and ecosystems that they have managed collectively for generations. However, their rightful claims to these territories are rarely enforced by the government, leaving them vulnerable to land grabbing, commodity development, conflicts and marginalization.

These landscapes are vital not only for the people who live there but also for the planet. Papua’s Indigenous groups are effective environmental stewards, maintaining the integrity of the forests they inhabit. The land they live on is home to the largest intact rainforest in Indonesia, with globally important implications for carbon storage and biodiversity.

WRI’s Role 

WRI Indonesia collaborated with local organizations, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), universities and indigenous institutions to develop a roadmap and guidelines to protect and recognize Indigenous Peoples' land rights. The work was done in support of the GugusTugas Masyarakat Adat (GTMA), the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, created by the regional government of the Jayapura Regency.

In Jayapura, WRI generated spatial data for 92 Indigenous territories, covering 300,000 hectares of customary forests. WRI researchers also conducted similar spatial analysis along the west coast of the Sarmi Regency.

WRI then shared the data with the Provincial Forestry and Environmental Agency of Papua to create maps of Indigenous communities’ customary forest territories, encompassing the Yongsu Desoyo community in Jayapura Regency and the customary forest territories of the Isirawa ethnic group in the Sarmi Regency. WRI also conducted socio-cultural research in both areas, including on community history and the economy.

Additionally, WRI helped develop the Guidelines for Acceleration of Mapping and Registration of Indigenous Territories to ensure others can replicate efforts in Jayapura, Samri and additional territories.

The Outcome

Thanks to data, research and territory maps facilitated by WRI, Papua’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry has so far awarded six customary forest certificates in Jayapura Regency. These forest certificates provide formal recognition of Indigenous communities’ rights to their ancestral lands, ensuring community access to lands and resources and protecting Indigenous forests from development.