REDD+ expected to preserve forests, empower local coomunities

REDD+ expected to preserve forests, empower local coomunities

(ANTARA FOTO/HO/Dok. JMTB/Uzzi)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - To address the challenge of climate change, Indonesia has been implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) program, with the cooperation of foreign donors, particularly Norway, for the last nine years.

REDD is an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation---estimated at up to 20 percent of the global total---by offering incentives. REDD+ is an extension of the program that includes the conservation and sustainable management of forests, as well as the enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

The implementation of the REDD+ program is crucial to help realize President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonos commitment towards cutting down gas emissions, which was first announced at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, United States, in September 2009.

At the summit, Yudhoyono had stated that Indonesia was crafting a policy that would help bring down emissions by 26 percent by 2020 from the "business as usual" (BAU) levels, but with international support, he was confident that Indonesia could reduce emissions by as much as 41 percent.

Indonesia has the worlds third largest cover of tropical forests, after Brazil and Congo, and the largest area under tropical peatlands that store enormous amounts of carbon. Protecting them is essential to prevent being affected by climate change.

More than two-thirds of Indonesias greenhouse gas emissions come from land use and the forestry sector, but these forests also protect the world against climate change at the same time.

While sharing Indonesias REDD+ experiences at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 24, President Yudhoyono said: "Land use and the forestry sector contribute up to one-fifth of worlds earth-warming emissions. Of these land-based emissions, the largest share can be attributed to deforestation and forest degradation. Therefore, addressing the issue of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is a must, if we are to stay below the projected two-degree temperature rise by the end of this century."

To help preserve Indonesian forests and tackle the impacts of climate change, Norway has pledged to provide Indonesia with US$1 billion in funding for REDD+ activities.

In line with a letter of intent (LOI), or the Oslo Accord, signed by Norway and Indonesia in 2010, the government imposed a moratorium on deforestation in 2011.

For that purpose, Yudhoyono issued Presidential Instruction No. 10/2011 on a two-year moratorium on new logging concessions for primary forests and peatlands. In 2013, he extended this moratorium till 2015 to protect more than 63 million hectares of the nations primary forests and peatlands.

On August 31, 2013 Yudhoyono signed the Presidential Regulation No. 62/2013 that established a managing agency for the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests and peatlands.

The agency is, among other things, obligated to provide benefits with regard to the maintenance of ecosystem services, the conservation of biodiversity and improvement in the livelihoods of the indigenous people and local communities.

Outlining the lessons learned by the country since the implementation of the REDD+ program in 2005, the president noted that its successful implementation required changing the mindset on forest use and governance.

"This further requires a new vision and approach to forestry governance that emphasizes on the contributions of forests to environmental conservation. Successful REDD+ implementation will enhance forest governance," he added.

The president mentioned another factor that would ensure the success of the REDD+ program. He added that it should be multi-stakeholder-driven, and that all stakeholders---national and local governments, private sector, non-governmental organizations and local communities---must work together.

Furthermore, the Head of the Presidents Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight, Dr. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, stated: "REDD is an entry point to empower citizens as stewards for a more sustainable, equitable and economically viable Indonesia...Through partnership, consultation and collaboration, (we are) empowering Indonesia and Indonesians as owners and implementers."

The government has designated several provinces, including Central Kalimantan that still has a vast area of virgin forests, as hosts of REDD+ pilot projects. This program was designed to preserve forest ecosystems, while simultaneously empowering local communities.

Central Kalimantan has forest and peatland areas functioning as carbon sinks and is, therefore, suitable for REDD+ pilot projects and carbon trade deals.

The initial pilot project was launched by Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan in Kapuas District, Central Kalimantan, in September 15, 2011.

Central Kalimantan covers around 15 million hectares of land, of which 70 percent is still forested and rich in biodiversity. It is renowned as the primary producer of "green gold," Central Kalimantan Governor Agustin Teras Narang once remarked.

"From the 1970s through to the 1980s, there were 120 production forest concessions. Now, there are 55," the governor pointed out, suggesting that with fewer companies operating, lesser forested areas would be cleared.

According to Dr. Terry Sunderland, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research based in Bogor, West Java, involving local villagers plays a fundamental role in the implementation of the REDD+ projects.

"The involvement of local communities or people living in the surrounding areas of the forests will boost the effectiveness (of the program) and help to achieve the target," Sunderland once said in a press statement.

He added that excluding local communities from the REDD+ projects could lead to dire social and economic consequences.

Moreover, the link between REDD+ and the economy has been highlighted in a report titled "Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ Can Support a Green Economy" that was issued recently by the International Resource Panel (IRP) and the UN-REDD Program.

The report outlines how integrating REDD+ programs into a green economy approach can conserve and even boost the socio-economic benefits forests provide to human society.

The IRP report lays out recommendations to deliver the new integrated REDD+ and green economy approach. These include better coordination, stronger private sector engagement, changes in fiscal incentive frameworks, greater focus on assisting policymakers understand the role forests play in propping up economies, and equitable benefit sharing.

The report further stresses, in particular, the need for a rights-based approach to ensure that benefits flow to the rural poor.

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