Environmental Harm and Decriminalization of Traditional Slash-and-Burn Practice in Indonesia
Traditional slash-and-burn as a way of clearing land for farming is allowed and exempted from being a criminal offense in Indonesia. However, this exemption should not be interpreted to mean that all traditional slash-and-burn practices are sustainable. Changes in habitat and sociocultural and economic conditions can render this once sustainable practice unsuitable in certain contexts and environments. This discussion on environmental harm from traditional slash-and-burn practices is not intended to call for a total ban of the practice nor does it suggest aggressive criminal law enforcement is required. This discussion is intended to clarify which practices we should protect and which ones should be addressed through various approaches to minimize harm. Such approaches should consider the local Indigenous communities as victims of ecological discrimination rather than perpetrators of environmental harm.
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