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Project November 23, 2021

Degradation of the Mapur Customary Forest in Bangka After Political Reform



The Mapur tribe is an old Malay tribe on Bangka Island. This indigenous community lives in forests located in Belinyu Subdistrict and Riau Silip Subdistrict, Bangka Regency, Bangka Belitung Islands, Indonesia. During the time of the Sultanate of Palembang and Dutch colonial rule, forests belonging to the Mapur tribe were free from tin mining and rubber plantations.

During Suharto's rule, there was a negative stigma against the Mapur tribe. They are called "lom people." This means that people who have not lived in modern civilization and embrace the religion recognized by the Indonesian government. The emergence of this stigma is estimated to be the impact of law No.5 of 1974 on the Principals of Local Government and Law No.5 of 1979 on Village Government, which eliminates territory and forests belonging to indigenous communities.

Around the 1980s-1990s, the Indonesian government removed part of the Mapur tribe from the forest, and placed the tribe members in a number of hamlets in Belinyu and Riau Silip subdistricts. They embraced a religion recognized by the Indonesian government. Some claimed to be "forced" to embrace the religion.

After political reforms in Indonesia in 1998, about 13,565 hectares of forest belonging to the state-controlled Mapur tribe was used as a palm oil plantation owned by a company. Thousands of hectares became the location of tin mines, both legal and illegal.

At this time the remaining forests continue to be threatened by oil palm plantations, shrimp farming, and tourism.

Forests for the Mapur tribe are a source of medicine, food, clean water, economy, as well as tradition and trust.

A number of indigenous Mapur leaders, academics from Bangka-Belitung University [UBB], activists Wahana Lingkungan Indonesia [Walhi] Bangka-Belitung and the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago [AMAN] are currently trying to find ways to restore and defend the remaining forests.