Forests play an important role not just as a carbon sink and habitat for wildlife, but for the communities that live around them. In fact, the connection is so tight such that if the communities that depend on the forests cannot survive, the forests themselves will not last, according to the Chairman of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). This spells bad news for the people living around the forests of Indonesia which, in a novel study on deforestation using Google Earth, was shown to have the highest rate of deforestation in the past twelve years. Read more
Report from PEFC (15 November 2013):
“If the people who work in and depend on the forests cannot survive, then the forests themselves will perish.”
“We believe that the well-being of the people who own, live in and depend on forests is the single most important criteria to determine if a forest is being sustainably managed,” said William Street Jr., PEFC Chairman, at the PEFC General Assembly yesterday. “If the people who work in and depend on the forests cannot survive, then the forests themselves will perish.”
In his remarks welcoming the Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities YB Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas to the General Assembly, Mr. Street reminded the audience of the importance of the economic and social dimensions of sustainable forest management.
“We believe that both poverty and profit seeking endangers natural and human resources. The poor need to sacrifice the forest in order to survive. Any forest management plan that ignores this reality is doomed to fail. Likewise we recognize the difference between poverty driven deforestation and profit driven deforestation. Forest land use decisions are subject to the demands of the market and of the profits derived from markets. But this cannot be the only driver or the sole determinant of how we manage our forests,” Mr. Street said. “The way forward [...] is to find the balance point, a balance point between making a sustainable economic contribution to society and no economic contribution to society. If forests cannot make a substantial economic contribution to society they will be replaced by palm oil plantations, soy bean fields, cattle pastures, golf courses, and destination resorts.”
Mr Street highlighted that PEFC’s unique, inclusive bottom-up approach is well-suited to balancing the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability: “We believe that the best way to achieve these goals is through an inclusive process that recognizes that there is no single way forward for every forest type. We believe there is not even a best way applicable to all forests, but rather that the process of bottom up, stakeholder involvement that gives voice to those who rarely have an opportunity to be heard is the only way forward. Smallholders, native and indigenous populations, workers, women, minorities, as well as Fortune 500 multi-nation corporations and government land owners must all have a seat at the table where the decisions are made as to how to manage a specific forest.”
PEFC Forest Certification Week, which in addition to the PEFC General Assembly also features the currently ongoing PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue, demonstrates the wide variety of stakeholder groups present in PEFC processes, with more than 300 people from very different backgrounds participating.
“We celebrate the diversity that such an approach empowers. We celebrate as the outputs of a rich, diverse, multi-cultural process,” noted Mr. Street.
Map shows deforestation in Indonesia is world’s fastest
By Nadya Natahadibrata in The Jakarta Post (16 November 2013):
Indonesia has the fastest rate of deforestation in the past 12 years, according to a new global map on deforestation.
A team of researchers from 15 universities — led by the University of Maryland and assisted by Google and NASA — has created the first high-resolution global map on Google Earth that maps forest cover.
In a study that was published in the journal Science on Thursday, the researchers reported a global loss of 2.3 million square kilometers of forest between 2000 and 2012 and a gain of 800,000 square kilometers of new forest, with an increase of 2,101 square kilometers of forest loss each year.
Indonesia, according to the study, has experienced the highest rate of deforestation between 2000 and 2012, from around 10,000 square kilometers per year between 2000 and 2003 to around 20,000 square kilometers of deforestation per year between 2011 and 2012.
During the latest period, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono actually initiated the forest clearance moratorium to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and rate of deforestation.
The country has lost 15.8 million hectares in total between 2000 and 2012, ranking fifth behind Russia, Brazil, the United States and Canada in terms of forest loss, the study reports.
It finds that Brazil is doing well compared to the other most densely forested countries. It managed to cut its deforestation rate from around 40,000 square kilometers per year to around 20,000 square kilometers per year. But Brazil’s success is, however, offset by the increasing deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia and Zambia
“This is the first map of forest change that is globally consistent and locally relevant,” University of Maryland professor of Geographical Sciences Matthew Hansen, team leader and corresponding author on the Science paper said in a statement.
“Losses or gains in forest cover shape many important aspects of an ecosystem including, climate regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity and water supplies, but until now there has not been a way to get detailed, accurate, satellite-based and readily available data on forest cover change from local to global scales,” he said.
The government was quick to deny the results of the study.
Forestry Ministry secretary-general Hadi Daryanto said that researchers had miscalculated the loss of forest cover, because, according to the data from the ministry, Indonesia only lost around 450,000 hectares of forest every year.
“The scientists only look at satellite images of areas where logging activities are taking place, without putting the country’s temporary deforestation into consideration,” Hadi said on Friday.
“Temporary deforestation is, for example, logging activities within the HTI [Industrial Forest Permit] areas, which will be restored after the timber harvesting period concludes. The country harvests only 200,000 hectares of HTI area per year,” he said. “They should not classify timber harvesting as forest loss,” he continued.
Hadi said that the Forestry Ministry had succeeded in reducing the country’s rate of deforestation from 3.5 million hectares per year between 1996 to 2003 to only 450,000 hectares, since the log exports ban was enacted in 2001 and the forest clearance moratorium was introduced, which prohibits the issuance of new licenses for the conversion of primary forests and peatlands in both protected forests and productive forests.
“We also did not issue HTI permits as much as we used to during the forest clearance moratorium. Between 2011 and 2012 the government only issued 250,000 hectares of HTI,” Hadi said. “Therefore, I don’t think this study is stating the truth,” he said.
Hadi said that the government under the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) would launch the forest clearance moratorium evaluation report in January next year.
As previously reported, Yudhoyono had signed Presidential Instruction No. 6/2013 to continue the forest moratorium for two years in May this year, that was initially introduced in 2011 after Indonesia and Norway signed a US$1 billion deal for Indonesia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and rate of deforestation.