Papuan Forests, Breath of the Life till the Spiritual Center of Traditional People – Talking about Papuan forests is not abandoned from discussing of the rights of traditional peoples to land. This is because the indigenous people there have lived side by side with the forest for generations based on ethnic groupings. Each tribe has its own customary territory and has the right to manage the territory and natural resources that exist there. One form of natural wealth becoming the source of livelihood for the people over there is the forest.

 According to Derius Woloin, one of the volunteers from Bentara Papua who is also a native tribe of Knasaimos in South Sorong Regency, Papua Province, forests are the breath of life for Papuans. In the forest, people can get basic food sources, spring water, cool air, building materials, and medicines.

 “Destroying forests is like killing our own biological mothers. Because, likewise mothers, forests provide everything the community has needed since a long time ago,” said Derius

Apart from being the breath of life, the indigenous peoples in the Land of Papua also make the forest a spiritual center reflected in their traditional beliefs. Therefore, although everything can be acquired from the forest, indigenous people make use of the forest efficiently. The reverence given by indigenous peoples to forests as part of nature is reflected in various forms of local wisdom that carry the spirit of environmental conservation.

 One form of local wisdom that expresses the spirit of environmental preservation is the Sinara Ceremony. According to Aloysius’ narrative, Sinara is a symbol of requesting community permission from ancestors before carrying out activities that utilize natural resources such as building boats, building houses, cutting trees or opening gardens. The Sinara Ceremony can be found in the Kaimana area, West Papua.

Aloysius also added, in addition to the Sinara Ceremony, local wisdom to protect Papuan orangutans is the presence of a prohibited area regulation. People in Tanah Papua are familiar with the prohibited regional regulations. He gave an example of a forbidden area in his home which turned out to be the habitat of one of the endemic animals of Papua, namely the Cenderawasih bird.

 “In Kaimana, the Bicari Bay area is a prohibited area and it turns out to be a place to live for Cenderawasih birds,” said Aloysius.

 The same thing was said by Derius. “We also know about the forbidden forest here. Usually it is only the elders and certain people allowed to enter. And until now, no one is allowed to do activities there. “

 The existence of a prohibited area is a marker for indigenous peoples to make adequately use of the forest. There are certain parts of the forest that need to be untouched by humans in order for nature to continue. This local wisdom deserves to be maintained and continues to be implemented to protect Papua’s forests from the annihilation of land conversion that more increase up to now. 

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