In 2012, Niko Boro, a leader of Institute for Dayak Punan observation and empowerment in Malinau, (Lembaga Pemerhati dan Pemberdayaan Dayak Punan Malinau – LP3M), started to work with the Punan Adiu community to map their ancestral forest. With his decades of experience in local advocacy and education, he helped the community obtain legal rights to their forest.

the process

The process took considerable effort, and in 2017 the indigenous community and its forest were eventually recognized and legally registered by the Malinau District government.

niko boro

nikoboro overlay

Niko Boro talks with Markus and Piyang from Punan Adiu community. Malinau, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia, 2020.

nikoboro text

Participative mapping requires a lot of fieldwork, rechecking data and involving neighboring communities and villages to confirm the accuracy of the boundaries for the map. When all stakeholders approved the final map, the Punan Adiu community submitted the documents to Malinau District Government.


supri join

supri join overlay

With his experience using GPS, Supri joined the participative mapping program and forest patrol activities in Punan Adiu. The team walked along the outer border of customary forest and tagged important spots within the area. Punan Adiu Customary Forest, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia. 2020.

copy land

copy land caption

A copy of the land-boundary agreement, May 2017.

copy land overlay

Recognition of customary forest boundaries requires consultations with, and confirmation from, neighboring villages. Through yearly discussions, paperwork and field visits, Punan Adiu and its neighbouring villages approved the final resolution and signed a legal document in May 2017. Documents confirming the agreement were then submitted to the district government to support their land registration process.

copy land text

On the 8th May 2017, Malinau District Leader (Bupati) signed a decree on recognition and protection of Punan Long Adiu customary community. This legal recognition enables Punan Adiu to have full authority over, and the right to protect and manage, their customary forest.



markus show

markus show overlay

Markus shows a copy of 2017 Malinau District Leader Decree in recognizing and protecting Punan Adiu’s land ownership and rights as indigenous people.

markus show text

A total of 17,415 hectares of Punan Adiu Customary Forest are protected by this decree.



view from

view from overlay

The view from the cabin in Sigong Kelafang Lake. 2020. Punan Adiu established cabins within their customary forest as a shelter for forest patrols, ecotourism tours and to mark their land ownership.

punan adiu

punan adiu overlay

Punan Adiu established an informational board along their customary forest border to mark their land ownership and enforce customary law to avoid forest exploitation. Adiu River, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia. 2020.


gaharu overlay

Gaharu or eagle woods (Aquilaria malaccensis) are planted in the Punan Adiu customary forest. 2020. Its resin is sold and used for perfume and incense. Due to habitat loss and high demand, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has listed this species as critically endangered. To protect this species, the Punan plant the trees in the forest. Some of these trees will be harvested and the resin will be sold for additional cash income.

lukas puts

lukas puts overlay

Lukas put leaves into Piyang’s traditional bag (anjat) during a forest patrol. The Punan Adiu conduct forest patrol to protect their forest from exploitation. 2020.


tourist overlay

Tourists visit the Punan Adiu customary forest. With guidance from local organizations, Punan Adiu is still developing its ecotourism program, management and infrastructure. Ecotourism is one of potential income for the community. 2020.

tourist text

The community’s legal victory has inspired other neighboring communities to follow Punan Adiu’s path in protecting their ancestral lands. Following similar steps and legal processes, several communities are now working with LP3M to conduct participatory mapping of their customary forests.



committee overlay

The committee of participatory mapping for Gong Solok village discusses and edits a draft map to confirm its accuracy. They check all the borders, important spots and the names of every place on the map. Following Punan Adiu village, Gong Solok village conducted similar participative mapping to legally protect their customary forest. Malinau, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia, 2020.


map overlay

A draft map of Gong Solok village’s customary forest, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia, 2020.

a draft org

a draft org overlay

A draft organizational chart of the Village Body for Customary Area Management (Badan Pengelola Wilayah Adat) in Gong Solok village. The organization has a significant role in managing the sustainability of the customary forest, including laws and regulations, forest patrols, agroforestry management, gender empowerment and water management.


zakaria overlay

Zakaria, a secretary of the participatory mapping committee in Abay Sembuak Village, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia. Following Punan Adiu village, the Abay Sembuak Community conducted similar participative mapping to legally protect their customary forest. “We don’t have a salary or get money from our work. But we commit to protect our forest through this legal process”, Zakaria said.

with support

with support overlay

With support from local NGOs (LP3M and KKI Warsi), the Abay Sembuak village community invited representatives of neighboring villages to check the accuracy and confirm their participative map. Malinau, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia, 2020.


secretary overlay

Zakaria, secretary of the participatory mapping committee in Abay Sembuak village, submits a document to the Government of Malinau District. The document details the history, profile, and customary map of the community. The document will be reviewed and verified. Once it passes the verification process, the district leader will sign a decree to recognize the rights of the indigenous community and its customary forest. Malinau, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia, 2020.

secretary text

Moving forward, Punan Adiu Community submitted an application for recognition and protection of their customary community and its forest to the National Government in Jakarta on 21st June 2018.


secretary text

They submitted the document to the President of Indonesia via the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Jakarta. The Ministry will review the document and conduct field verification. When all requirements and verification are approved, the Punan Adiu Community will obtain national recognition and have stronger legal protection to manage their customary area in a sustainable way. At the time of writing (2020), this process is still ongoing.


after obtained

after obtained overlay

After obtaining legal authority from the Malinau District Government, the Punan Adiu community submitted an application for national legalization and recognition to the President of Indonesia.

punan community

punan community overlay

The Punan Adiu Community attends a teleconference in the Malinau Government Office as part of the selection process for the Kalpataru Award. Kalpataru is a prestigious Indonesian award given in honour of individuals or communities who have made significant contributions to protect the environment. In December 2020, Indonesian Government award the Kalpataru to Punan Adiu. Malinau, North Kalimantan Province of Indonesia, 2020.

morning act

morning act overlay

Morning activity on the An River. 2020. With its intact ecosystem, An River has become one of the tourist destinations in Punan Adiu customary forest.

a woman

a woman overlay

A woman fills water into a jerrycan during a trip to the An River. 2020. With the surrounding areas polluted by coal mining, the An River still has and intact ecosystem and provides clean water for the Punan Adiu.


children overlay

Children swim in the An River. 2020.

next story

Land Management
How does the Punan Adiu manage the customary forest after successfully obtaining legal recognition and protection?