Call for papers: The Future of Tanah Papua - Towards Multi-disciplinarity on Adat, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development

Guest Editors

Suriel Mofu, Josz Mansoben, Keliopas Krey, Sepus Fatem, Fitry Pakiding, Larry Fisher, Rodrigo Camara Leret.

After recent large-scale land use changes in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Tanah Papua (the two provinces of Papua and Papua Barat) has gained notable attention, particularly given its unique status as an area under Special Autonomy (Otonomi Khusus). On the one hand, Tanah Papua is seen as an opportunity to target new forest and mining concessions. On the other, the region symbolizes the last stand against deforestation, carbon emissions, and business as usual development. On paper, proposed concession permits have divided up virtually all of the remaining terrestrial area of the island.  However, the recent signing of the “Manokwari Declaration” by the governors of Papua and Papua Barat at the International Conference on Biodiversity, Creative Economy, and Ecotourism (7 – 10 October 2018) suggests a new vision for conservation and sustainable development for the region. This vision includes setting aside 70% of the two provinces for conservation, a moratorium on plantation and mining permits, promotion of sustainable development principles, and an emphasis on protecting indigenous rights and traditional culture. Due to the remoteness and low development indicators in Tanah Papua, both schemes (business as usual vs. “green” development) promise development. Large industrial operations in the private sector do so under the justifications of economic growth, while conservation and sustainable development priorities suggest opportunities for pursuing a green development model, including investments in ecotourism, that are already being realized in unique natural areas such as Raja Ampat. The question that emerges from these competing visions are: development on whose terms and towards what ends?

Papua has recently gained growing attention from the national government. Presidential Instruction 9, 2017, which calls for accelerating and increasing development support to the region, including improved planning and coordination, ambitious infrastructure projects, extra financial support for special autonomy funds, and large village fund allocations. With the Special Autonomy designation, civil society organizations have also succeeded in making a strong case for devolution of authority. The Constitutional Court decision on rights for indigenous people to reclaim national forest lands presents an opportunity to contest land for local management. Agrarian reform and social forestry programs promise an increased role for local communities in land management to support new opportunities for a regional vision for sustainable economic development. Finally, village funds are also designed to put local development decisions closer to the local authority, a further extension of the many decentralization reforms that have taken place across Indonesia in the past two decades. 

Given the scope and complexity of these issues, and the timely opportunity to contribute to the debate over the future of this unique region, the journal Forest and Society is seeking submissions on the multiple layers of adat, conservation, and development issues in Tanah Papua. What questions do we need to ask for science and policy? What decisions, policies, and programs should be promoted to achieve the appropriate balance between economic development, conservation, and sustainability? How can these decisions be shaped by the right actors, premised on the best available information, and developed through appropriate forums that encourage broad participation and transparency?

Types of contributions:

We are especially eager to receive contributions that explore the notion of futures, how we assess alternative trajectories, and the role of the next generation of land, development, and conservation in Tanah Papua. We anticipate the main contributions to be full-length papers between 6,000 – 9,000 words. However, to encourage more diverse perspectives on these issues,  and accommodate the increasing trend toward research co-production, we are expanding submissions to incorporate shorter pieces (1,000 – 3,000 words) under targeted headings, including Policy Forum, Field Notes, and Methodological Engagement.

  • Policy Forum pieces should be short and to the point, addressing a particular aspect about contemporary regulatory, administrative, and other aspects of public policy specific to Tanah Papua.
  • Field Notes are intended to provide field insights into development, adat, and conservation as experienced among and by communities. This could include ethnobiological reflections, participatory mapping initiatives, local institutional practices and perspectives, and a range of other possibilities.
  • Methodological Engagement are submissions designed at identifying some of the unique challenges and realities of conducting research on these timely topics in Tanah Papua. Such methodological perspectives can bridge both the academic and the practical and is geared towards supporting various stakeholders in evaluating the many elements and dynamics, as well as innovations for conducting meaningful research in Tanah Papua.

Submission procedures:

The submission deadline is 30 December 2019. You may send your manuscript now or at any time before the deadline. Submitted papers should not be under consideration for publication elsewhere. We encourage authors to send a short abstract or tentative title to the Editorial Office in advance (forest_society@unhas.ac.id). 

For further details on the submission process, please see the authors guideline at the journal website.

Please also contact Forest and Society journal editors Alif Sahide (alif.mksr@gmail.com) and Micah Fisher (micahrf@hawaii.edu) for further information.