Loss of access to forests has led to food insecurity for Marind-anim communities in Papua.
Forests have been an important part of the food system of the Marind Anim, an Indigenous community in Merauke. However, since the giant food and energy estate project (MIFEE) was established in 2010, which aims to convert 1.2 million hectares of land in Merauke, the Marind Anim's access to their forests has faltered, accelerating changes in food patterns.
Marind Anim communities have traditionally relied on forests and swamps for their livelihoods. From the forest areas, they get sago and various game animals such as deer, slow loris, cassowary, poultry, kangaroo, wild boar, and crocodiles.
In addition, the forest also grows a variety of fruits including mango, rambutan, papaya, banana, jackfruit, and coconut, in addition to various leaves and tubers for vegetables. The forest also provides bark, gambier, and resin.
Lambert Ndiken (67), a customary elder of Baad Village in Animha District, says that the forest is not only a source of food, but also the center of cosmology. The forest is 'Mother,' associated as the giver of life and a religious doorway to connect with Demai or ancestral spirits.