Deforestation in Decentralised Indonesia: What's Law Got to Do with It?


Luke Lazarus Arnold
69/47 Kennedy Street
Kingston, Australian Capital Territory 2604


A growing number of studies point to significant changes in the dynamics of deforestation in Indonesia since the introduction of decentralised governance in 2001. This essay argues that law plays an important and underestimated role in facilitating these new dynamics. This role is not limited to mere implementation failures; many of the ways in which Indonesian law makes deforestation possible can be traced back to the content of the laws themselves. In order to demonstrate this point, the essay first examines the context in which Indonesia's forestry and decentralisation laws were formulated and the salient provisions of these laws. This is followed by a discussion of the dynamics of deforestation since decentralisation and an analysis of five key ways in which law is partly responsible for the current situation: a flawed division of authority between the Central Government and the regions'; inconsistent, ambiguous and 'hollow' legislation; legislatively entrenched departmentalism; the marginalisation of forest communities; and a lack of legislative support for public participation, public interest litigation and other processes to promote sustainable forest management.


Decentralisation, deforestation, forest communities, forestry, governance, illegal logging, Indonesia, law enforcement, legislative drafting, regional autonomy.             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893