Gohong, Indonesia - Anang Sugito, 47, stands in front of a 100-strong crowd pointing to a hand-drawn map on the wall. His voice cracks when he talks about the future of Dayak village.
"If we sell off our forests, our children will be landless. They will have their own children, and what would they do?" asked Sugito, 47, the village secretary for the 7,000 household strong community of Gohong, and father of five children ranging from 10 to 18-years old.
In a country where indigenous activists and leaders defending their land are sometimes intimidated, harassed, and killed by palm oil companies and their collaborators, many Dayak villagers - who have practiced shifting cultivation in forests in Central Kalimantan for hundreds of years - do not understand why they have to go to court to defend forests against conversion to mono-crop palm plantations.
"It is only natural, and as it should be, that we do everything in our power to hold onto our land," said Abdul Muin, an ethnic Dayak hailing from the neighbouring village of Sei Dusun, where villagers have filed lawsuits against oil palm corporations with concessions to 11,000 hectares of peatland forest.
While so far 11 companies have had their permits revoked as a result, the country hosts more than 2,500 local suppliers and Muin said it is a constant struggle to fend them off.
Demand for palm oil and energy in Indonesia continues to drive deforestation and displacement of local communities in a country that has already lost 64 million hectares of tropical forests to agribusiness in the past five decades, according to the World Research Institute (WRI), an international research organisation focusing on sustainable energy and conservation.
In recent years, a billion dollar bilateral agreement with Norway has encouraged the Indonesian government to issue moratoriums on forest clearance to protect its carbon-loaded peatland.
Confusion over land tenure, however, continues to cloud forest protection, with potentially devastating environmental impacts on Indonesia’s remaining 22 million hectares of peatland forests, which globally make up five percent of peatland area, according to the National Council on Climate Change.
Indigenous groups in Central Kalimantan, and their advocates, continue to call for recognition of their rights in the context of land development, to stop human rights violations against their communities and preserve their way of life.