Stop the Logging, Cut Emissions, Boost the Economy
Indonesia is losing about 1.1 million
hectares of its forests each year. Most of it is due to unsustainable logging,
converting forests to plantations for palm oil and the pulp and paper industry.
Large-scale illegal logging costs Indonesia about US$4 billion annually. And
deforestation accounts for between 15-25% of all human generated greenhouse gas
emissions, according to the UN. But in Indonesia that figure is up to 85%,
making the country one of the highest emitters in the world.
An Unhappy Tale of Loss and Destruction
by Ken Hickson on attending the Forests, Biodiversity and Climate Change in
Southeast Asia organised by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in
Singapore on 17 October:
When you sit through a whole day of people
talking about deforestation – in Indonesia and elsewhere – you cannot but
wonder if we are ever going to get this right and stop the wanton destruction
which is not only destroying lives, wildlife and the environment, but is one of
the major contributors to global warning.
FACT: According to the UN Forum on Forests
Director Jan McAlpine, deforestation
contributes 15-25% of all human generated greenhouse gas emissions. For
So many earnest and intelligent people, representing
some of the world leading NGOs, businesses and Governments, attempting to do so
much good to provide alternative economic benefits to the people, while
seemingly unable to stop the logging companies from having their own way. No
matter how many Government statements there are and assurances from the President
down that the “rainforests will be safeguarded”, the destruction continues and
the burning of farmland and peat forests continue.
In Indonesia we cannot be expected to think
otherwise: the situation is out of control. Forest policy is not being managed
by the Government, but at the mercy of logging companies.
FACT: One speaker at the conference on Forests, Biodiversity
and Climate Change in Southeast Asia organised by the Institute of Southeast
Asian Studies last week pointed out that in the last ten years the world has lost forever 130 million hectares of
forest. This is since the world has been aware of the need to keep
rainforests intact to preserve biodiversity and the planet. For more go to: www.infinite-earth.com
A procession of do-gooding organisations –
NGOs and businesses – tell of their efforts to rein in the “enemy” and maintain
forests and peatlands; to keep
biodiversity intact and to provide clean, green alternative sources of income
for villagers throughout Indonesia and other threatened South East Asian
FACT: Degradation of South East Asian tropical
peat swamps result in huge emissions, from peat soil carbon oxidation and from
fires, amounting to 6% of global emissions. Peatlands around the world store
30% of all terrestrial carbon. For more go to www.wetlands.org
The Governments of the world agreed at the UN
Climate Change conference Bali in 2007 to establish REDD – Reduced Emissions
from Deforestation and Degradation – many held out great hopes that this would
meet its objectives, simply to enable governments, companies or forest owners
in the South should be rewarded for keeping their forests instead of cutting
Yet time after time, we hear that it is not
working. In spite of the best intentions and endeavours by many. Time after
time, at this one day conference, I heard speakers talk about what they are
trying to do to make a difference and about the obstacles put in their way.
FACT: Five years after various REDD projects have
been initiated, only one of them has met the full requirements of the Verified
Carbon Standard (VCS) and is able to trade in carbon credits. For mre go to www.foresr-carbon.org
Nothing will change unless governments steps
in to control logging companies and palm oil plantation owners who seem to
hell-bent on destruction as they reward villagers far more than they can
possibly receive through managed REDD avoided deforestation projects.
I wish I could present all the material
presented and interview all the speakers at the conference to give readers a
full picture, but here’s a few more sites you could go to learn more of what’s happening – the good and
the bad – in regards to South East Asia and “Forests, biodiversity and Climate
WWF’s Heart of Borneo Initiative – www.wwf.or.id
BirdLife International’s Forests of Hope
project – www.birdlife.org
There is always hope, and we also give you a
positive story from Fauna and Flora International on their REDD BioCarbon
project. See below.
We also include – with an even higher, but
perhaps unwarranted expectation of hope – an article from the Jakarta Globe
quoting Indonesian President, who vows to safeguard the countries rainforests.
Has he left it too late? Has the damage been done?
we continue to experience the smoke haze in Singapore from Indonesia’s out of
control burning after many years of far-too-polite “complaints”;
we continue to learn that Indonesia is losing about 1. Million hectares of
forest each year;
we continue to hear of Government promises and moratoriums and vows, we can
speak louder than words. The time for talking about it has passed. Show that
Indonesia can make a positive contribution to its own economy and the planet’s
health, by dealing with the scourge of deforestation.
If you want to read a deforestation horror
story, you should go to the excellent Reuters special report by David Fogarty –
For more go to: www.redd-monitor.org
News Release: SBY Vows to Protect Indonesia’s
Rainforests (27 September 2011)
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivering
his opening address at the Forests Indonesia Conference in Jakarta. Yudhoyono
promised to dedicate the last three years of his administration to safeguarding
Indonesia’s rainforests — a pledge that received broad support at a major conference
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised
to dedicate the last three years of his administration to safeguarding
Indonesia’s rainforests — a pledge that received broad support at a major
conference in Jakarta.
Hosted by the Center for International
Forestry Research (CIFOR), the conference provided a platform for 1,000 leaders
of Indonesia’s government, business community and civil society, as well as
foreign donors, to discuss the future of the forests, the third-largest
tropical forest in the world.
“I will continue my work and dedicate the
last three years of my term as President to deliver enduring results that will
sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia,” Yudhoyono said
at the conference. “If it weren’t for the benefits that our forests provide,
then our way of life, our people, our economy, our environment and our society
would be so much the poorer.
“Our success in managing our forests will
determine our future and the opportunities that will be available to our children.”
A CIFOR news release says Indonesia is losing
about 1.1 million hectares of its forests each year. Most of it is due to
unsustainable logging that includes the conversion of forests to plantations
for palm oil and the pulp and paper industry. It is also partly due to
large-scale illegal logging, which is estimated to cost Indonesia about $4
“We must change the way we treat our forests
so that they are conserved even as we drive hard to accelerate our economic
growth,” Yudhoyono said. “I do not want to later explain to my granddaughter,
Almira that we, in our time, could not save the forests and the people that
depend on it. I do not want to tell her the sad news that tigers, rhinoceroses
and orangutans vanished like the dinosaurs.”
In his speech, the president reiterated a
2009 pledge to cut Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 41 percent
from business-as-usual levels by 2020 — a vow only achievable if the forests
Globally, deforestation accounts for up to 20
percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In Indonesia, however that figure is up to
85 percent, Yudhoyono said. This makes the country one of the highest emitters
in the world.
Norway has committed up to $1 billion to help
Indonesia meet its emissions reduction target, and in May this year the
Indonesian government issued a two-year moratorium on new forestry concessions.
“Norway is proud of the partnership with
Indonesia,” Erik Solheim, Norway’s minister for the environment and
international development, said at the conference.
“We strongly encourage other countries to
support the work that President Yudhoyono and the government of Indonesia is
doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Yudhoyono is now one of the
foremost statesmen leading the international fight to combat climate change.”
It is predicted that up to $30 billion could
flow from developed to developing countries each year to help facilitate
significant reductions in deforestation, and Indonesia could potentially claim
a significant share of these funds through REDD+, a global mechanism for
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, as well as the
conservation and sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of
forest carbon stocks.
Indonesia is one of the countries with the
most REDD+ demonstration activities in various stages of development, and
Indonesia has been an early participant in various bilateral and multilateral
initiatives to prepare for REDD+ implementation at the national level.
In addition to potential funding
opportunities through REDD+ in coming years, Indonesia has a range of options
available to reduce the pace of deforestation, while at the same time expanding
agricultural production to guarantee food security targets and promote economic
This includes focusing future agricultural
development on so-called degraded land, rather than clearing rainforest to make
way for plantations or developing carbon-rich peatland. The government could
also support a push for agricultural intensification – increasing yields per
hectare, which are currently relatively low.
“While there are some ‘win-win’ opportunities
to reconcile forest management to meet both global and domestic objectives,
there will also be some trade-offs that will require leadership from
government, business, and civil society to determine the best way forward for
Indonesia in a manner that is transparent and fair,” said Frances Seymour,
CIFOR director general.
As part of his push to safeguard the forests,
Yudhoyono called on Indonesia’s captains of industry to adopt more sustainable
forests management practices.
“I call upon our business leaders,
particularly those in the palm oil, pulp wood and mining sectors, to partner
with us by enhancing the environmental sustainability of their operations,” he
said. “I ask you to join me in pledging to safeguard this national treasure for
the sake of our children.”
The President’s pledge received widespread
support from conference attendees.
“I am pleased to be here at the Forests
Indonesia Conference because the UK recognizes the importance of climate change
in Indonesia. We are pleased to be supporting the government of Indonesia’s
work to meet its internationals climate change commitments,” said Jim Paice, UK
Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Fauna & Flora International (July):
Investment from International Finance
Corporation and Global Forest Partners set to enable largescale REDD projects
Macquarie Global Investments (Macquarie) have
announced that BioCarbon Group Pte Limited (BioCarbon) has agreed to terms with
investors for a combined investment of $US25 million to target global forest
carbon projects known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation
The investments, provided by a timber
investment fund managed by US based Global Forest Partners LP (GFP), IFC, a
member of the World Bank Group, and Macquarie, which also established the
company, will enable BioCarbon to identify and invest in large scale REDD
projects. The first project is expected to be in Indonesia, one of the first
countries to establish a legal framework for REDD.
Macquarie Global Investments Associate
Director, Brer Adams, said bringing together global leaders in sustainable
forestry investment and investment in developing countries means BioCarbon is
very well placed to create and sustain significant REDD investments.
“BioCarbon is a pioneering company that is demonstrating
the ability to link carbon finance to forest conservation, aiming to reduce
carbon emissions, protect biodiversity and provide returns for its investors,”
Mr Adams said.
“This investment will enable BioCarbon to
develop large scale REDD projects and meet demand for forest carbon credits,
which we believe will be an increasingly important part of global carbon
Peter C. Mertz, Chief Executive Officer of
GFP noted that, “GFP’s investment in BioCarbon continues our 25 year commitment
to investing in sustainable forestry projects that meet the highest
environmental standards and support local economies. We look forward to our
collaboration with Macquarie and IFC in this important and developing sector
within our industry.”
BioCarbon will also benefit from a
collaboration with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), a relationship
established by Macquarie Group in 2008. FFI CEO Mark Rose said that this unique
partnership is central to the organisation’s REDD programme.
“Fauna & Flora International is delighted
to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative, which demonstrates how FFI and
Macquarie Group have been at the forefront of commercial investment in REDD.
Together we will be demonstrating the potential to reduce deforestation,
conserve biodiversity and combat climate change, while providing significant
benefits to communities living in or near forests,” Mr Rose said.
BioCarbon will be seeking to accredit its
forest carbon projects with leading international standards including the
Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard.