The Forest Scribe

Madani Welcomes Lower Deforestation Rate for 2019-2020, Calls for Better Protection of Secondary Forests

The Madani Berkelanjutan Foundation is welcoming the government’s success in lowering Indonesia’s deforestation rate by 75 percent in the 2019-2020 period as a good starting point for the country to build an economy without damaging forests and the environment, and also called for a better protection of the country’s secondary natural forests.

“Indonesia should maintain this reduction in deforestation into the future so that it can become a reference for success for other countries with tropical forests,” said Madani in a written release welcoming a statement of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry on March 3, 2021 that claimed the reduction in deforestation in 2019-2020.

Madani urged on the government to make sure that all its latest development policies, starting from the National Economy Recovery (PEN) program,  its National Strategic Projects (PSN) to the Food and Energy Resilience Program, would be in line and coherent with its efforts to achieve its climate commitment, said Yosi Amelia, Madani’s Forest and Climate Project Officer, commenting on the release issued by the Directorate General for Forest Planning and Environmental Management of the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

Fadli Ahmad Naufal, Madani’s GIS Specialist said that the drop, in deforestation rate, actually mostly concerned the deforestation in forest estates, at 99 percent, and not in natural forests. Deforestation of primary forests went down by 48 percent, from 23,900 hectares in 2018-2019 to 12,300 hectares in 2019-2020. 

The deforestation of secondary forests however, did not go down as much as for primary forests, he said, saying that it went down by only 36 percent from 164,000 hectares in 2018-2019 to 104,600 hectares in 2019-2020. Naufal said that this showed it was urgent to boost the protection of secondary natural forests, including those within concessions and that are not protected in the Indicative Map for the Postponing of New Concessions (PIPPIB), among others through policy innovations, including in implementing REDD+.

“If we only look at the loss of natural forests (brut deforestation of natural forests) it is true that there has been a drop in deforestation, something that needs to be appreciated, but it only stood at 38 percent, that is from 187,900 hectares in 2018-2019 to 116,900 hectares in 2019-2020. Based on Madani’s initial analysis there are around 9.4 million hectares of natural forests, or almost equal to 16 times the island of Bali, that are outside concessions and also outside of the PIAPS and PIPPIB that are not yet protected under the policy to cease the issuance of new concessions, or the forest moratorium, and therefore they remain vulnerable to deforestation,” Naufal said. PIAPS refers to the Indicative Map for Social Forestry Areas.

Madani, however, underlined that at the same time, the government has also come out with policies that have the potential of increasing deforestation rates in the future. Without stricter environmental safeguards, it was feared that various development programs could scuttle the achievement of Indonesia’s climate and low carbon development commitments and even boost conflicts with local and customary communities.

In the short term, the potential for a higher deforestation rate could be seen from the swath of natural forests that was included in the Food Estate Area of Interests in four provinces — Papua, Central Kalimantan, North Sumatra and South Sumatra. These areas reached a total of about 1,5 million hectares or about three times the size of Bali island. Worries that deforestation would take place there were based on the huge potential economic value of timber from those forests, estimated at Rp209 trillion.

“Therefore, it is urgent for the government to strengthen protection of secondary natural forests, both those already within concessions and those who are not yet protected under the PIPPIB. One of the ways is by implementing REDD+ using strong environmental and social safeguards that are also backed by data transparency,” Amelia said.

Amelia stressed that Madani would be at the frontline of efforts if the government opened itself to cooperation in implementing actions to reduce deforestation.

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