The Forests of Indonesia
Indonesia belongs to the world’s largest forest nations behind Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo as forests in Indonesia cover around 71% (133.57 million hectares) of the of the total land area in Indonesia (187.9 million hectares).
However, degradation of Indonesia’s forests together with a decline in biodiversity has occurred on a massive scale as a result of unsustainable forest management, forest fires and illegal logging. Besides ongoing degradation, Indonesia’s forests are disappearing in an alarming rate mainly due to conversion of forest land in other land-uses.
This high rate of deforestation has varied between the different periods:
- 1982-1990 0.90 million ha/year
- 1990-1997 1.80 million ha/year
- 1997-2000 2.83 million ha/year
- 2000-2005 1.08 million ha/year
Trees and other vegetation play a critical role in the global carbon cycle. Growing forests actively sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and through the process of photosynthesis convert this into biomass. The result of this cycle is that mature forests store large amounts of carbon, locking it up in the trees and other vegetation as biomass, both above and below ground. While forests remove CO2 emitted by burning fossil fuels, deforestation sends this CO2 into the atmosphere.
The high rate of deforestation in Indonesia made the country to one of the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Especially the conversion of peatland forests and uncontrolled forest fires caused a major part of the emissions from Indonesia’s forest sector. According to the National GHG Inventory, land use change and forestry contribute more than 50% to Indonesia’s total emissions.
Worldwide, each year about 13 million hectares of forest are lost. According to IPCC 2007, emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, mostly in the tropics, account for about 20% of current global greenhouse gas emissions (while recent 2009 studies see it as 12%). Protecting threatened forests is considered one of the least expensive climate mitigation options (Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, 2006).
At the Climate Change Conference in Bali (COP13) in December 2007 the high relevance of REDD ("Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation") has been recognized, leading to a demand for REDD demonstration activities in order to gain experience in the field.
REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation
In the international climate change negotiations, advocates have proposed REDD as a new instrument to contribute to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The concept is to provide performance-based financial incentives to maintain forest cover and biomass (carbon stock), in other words to manage forests sustainably rather than cut them down. These incentives are to be backed by improved laws and strong institutions.
To make REDD effective, at least four challenges must be overcome. Conservation of forest in one area must not lead to increased deforestation in another ("leakage"); countries must stop forest loss not only now but in the future ("permanence") and develop methods to verify and monitor reduced emissions.
Most importantly, the proposed REDD payments and distribution schemes must actually benefit people using the forests and so become incentives to conserve forests.
Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries would not only address a major source of greenhouse gas emissions but would also pave the way for developing countries to play an active part in emission reduction efforts under the international climate regime.
The idea of promoting incentives for forest conservation in the climate regime is almost universally praised as an important and substantial contribution to international climate policy.
How Indonesia is Managing Forests and Climate Change
According to the National Development Planning Agency BAPPENAS (Yellow Book, 2010) the forestry sector policy objectives are:
- Support forest and land rehabilitation programmes through A/R CDM;
- Reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation through the development of effective REDD schemes;
- Accelerate rehabilitation and revitalization of peatland areas.
Priority activities in the forestry sector are as follow:
- Best practices and progressive technologies on peatland
- Increased absorption of GHG (sink enhancement)
- Reduction/prevention of emissions from deforestation and degradation
- Research and development of forestry
- Improving the sustainability of forest resources in order to improve resilience and adaptability
- Increased resilience and adaptability of the community life surrounding the forest area
- Increased sustainable forestry efforts to improve resilience and adaptability
- Research and development in the forestry sector