Indonesia forests play role in global emissions

24 , 2011 | Source: The Jakarta Post

Indonesia’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions by 26 percent found itself at the heart of global climate change progress.

As a tropical country rich in natural resources — boasting the third-largest rainforest area — forest conservation is one of the top items on the climate change agenda.

Deforestation is responsible for about 80 percent of Indonesia’s emissions, National Council for Climate Change (DNPI) chairman Rachmat Witoelar says.

While many have called the target unrealistic, the DPNI is certain that 85 percent of the target may be achieved through more efficient forest management alone, with the help of foreign partners.

President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono also stated that Indonesia’s reduction efforts should be domestically funded, while additional cuts of up to 41 percent would be possible with international aid.

“We will achieve the targets,” Rachmat said recently.

The strong correlation between deforestation and carbon emissions brought about the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and Enhancing carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) initiative to slow down the rate of deforestation.

REDD+ has become the center for international cooperation in Indonesia in the effort to mitigate deforestation and forest degradation and conserve peatlands, Rachmat said.

Peatland degradation is responsible for some 65 percent of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The scheme will not commence until 2013. However, some regions have started projects similar to REDD+. Central Kalimantan became the location of choice for implementing REDD+ in Indonesia.

Controversies arose surrounding the REDD+ carbon trading system, which allows developed countries to pay off high carbon emissions by sponsoring developing countries in their fight against deforestation and forest degradation. Problems surrounding this system include the possibility of a decrease in the value of carbon, which would tempt both corporations and governments to avoid alternative low-carbon technologies.

Various nations have committed to funding Indonesia, with emphasis on the REDD+ scheme. Norway has agreed to a payment-for-results plan that could reach up to US$1 billion. While the partnership between Norway and Indonesia concentrates on carbon mitigation measures to avoid deforestation and protect peatlands, there are significant side-effects that would positively impact water, biodiversity and indigenous people, according to Rachmat.

There is broad consensus that to tackle the underlying problems, the entire forest governance sector in Indonesia must be reformed.

However, there are signs of clear improvement in Indonesia’s forests since 2002. In 2002-2003, 2 million hectares of forest disappeared. Since then, less than half of that is being cut down.


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