"Communities have proven to be able to manage forest sustainably" although they use different models and approaches, representatives of the F-11 member countries stated in the last day of their three-day meeting at Senggigi tourist resort, West Lombok District, West Nusa Tenggara Province, Friday (June 10, 2011).
During the workshop, they discussed about the role of social forestry programs in the mitigation of and adaptation to global warming and climate change, according to Tachrir Fathoni of the Indonesian forestry ministry.
The F-11 initially grouped Indonesia, Congo, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Brazil, Malaysia, the Philippines, Colombia, Cameroon, Peru, Gabon, and Costa Rica. The number of its member countries has increased with the participation of Guatemala, Guyana and Suriname.
The group`s members control more than half of the world`s tropical forests. Indonesia, the host country, has around 135.7 million hectares of forest area, the world`s third largest after Brazil (Latin America) and Congo (Africa).
The F-11 was set up about three years ago at the initiative of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who had conveyed the idea on the sidelines of the High-Level Event on Climate Change in New York on September 24, 2007.
The group aims to increase effective cooperation and partnership in sustainable forest management to overcome deforestation challenges, and to promote forest and biodiversity conservation.
The F-11 members` delegates in the West Lombok workshop emphasized the important role of social forestry programs in supporting forest protection and at the same time to enhance local communities well being.
"Social forestry programs are considered crucial to reduce emission from deforestation and forest degradation. The community will get an additional incentive from the carbon trade for retaining and managing their forests," Dr Agus Sarsito, head of the forestry ministry`s international cooperation center, said in Senggigi, Friday (June 10), after the closing of the workshop.
The F-11 grouping also agreed on the implementation of REDD Plus (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus) through the social forestry programs.
The participants acknowledged the roles of tropical forests in curbing the climate change impacts, by functioning as ,for instance, carbon sequestration, carbon sink and carbon stock.
The CO2 emission from deforestation reaches 20 percent. Main efforts to reduce greenhouse emission include Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), green technology, forest conservation, afforestation, reforestation, social forestry mechanism and REDD plus.
Forests provides many environmental services such as scenic beauty (eco-tourism), water protection (forest hydrology), biodiversity, sources of necessities, income and livelihood for indigenous and local people.
The F-11 member states identified some problems and challenges in the implementation of social forestry programs.
"The implementation of social forestry programs at the district level is very slow compared to mandated by the national policy and often not budgeted at the local level," they said, adding that security of community rights are also problematic.
The meeting`s participants also believed there was a disconnection between the international discussions and the reality at the local level, regarding the adaptation and mitigation of the climate change and global warming.
Funding issue was also a topic of discussion in the social forestry workshop, as the F-11 member countries have experienced difficulty in trying to collect international funds for forest conservation efforts.
"Funding for afforestation and reforestation efforts have been acknowledged through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), however there are problems due to stringent requirements, too high transaction costs, and complicated procedures," they said.
The high transaction costs in accessing international funding have called F-11 member countries to look for alternative financial sources domestically.
They also talked about efforts to make sure that the local people helping the forest conservation could get access to the funding.
"The F-11 representatives said it has been hard to get international funds for the local people living surrounding forests," Satyawan, of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) and a facilitator of the workshop, said.
Many of the developed states have failed to meet their commitments to providing financial assistance for curbing the climate change impacts.
DR. Agus Sarsito, head of the forestry ministry`s international cooperation center,
reminded that the F-11 member countries must not merely rely on the advanced nations for the social forestry program`s funding because the developed countries have been facing various problems.
"Indeed, in many negotiations, it has been difficult to ask for the advanced countries to meet their commitments although they should be responsible for the emission coming out due to their development process," he said.
"We as developing nations must have commitment to developing ourselves. F-11 member countries must promoting the existing potentials, and should not just rely on the international funding," he said.
In the previous F-11 ministerial-level meeting held on the sidelines of the world environmental minister forum in Nusa Dua, Bali, in February 2010, the F-11 countries had called for mobilization of the financial resources of developed countries through the establishment of mechanisms such as REDD-plus.
The agreement to provide incentives to REDD action through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries, must be urgently realized, they said.
In the meeting co-chaired by Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa and Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, they also had launched a program of work and strategic plan serving as the implementation mechanism for F-11 projects for the period of 2010-2011.
The projects included remote sensing for monitoring deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing the role of community-based forest management on climate resilience for adaptation and mitigation.
They had also reaffirmed their commitment to work closely in the framework of South-South Cooperation and launched the F-11 website (www.forest-eleven.or.id).
While in the just-ended workshop, F-11 delegates agreed that transparent implementation of the social forestry programs is a main indicator of the program`s success. (*)