The Forest Scribe

Strengthen Openness of Deforestation Data, Information: Madani

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An environmental watchdog is hailing the results of a decade of Indonesia-Norway part partnership in curbing deforestation but it is also calling for the strengthening openness of data and information on deforestation in Indonesia.

The Norwegian government has approved a first payment of $56 million or Rp 840  billion, from the total of $1billion promised to Indonesia, in return for its effort in curbing its emission from deforestation and forest degradation for the 2016-2017 period. Indonesia said it has reduced its CO2 emission by 11.2 million tons. The fund will be channelled to the Environment Fund Management Agency (BPDLH) that was formally established in October last year.

“This equal and mutually respecting partnership must be continued and strengthened, with a stress on the aspect of data and information openness, and the participation and respect of the rights of indigenous and local communities to forest and natural resources,” Chairman of the Madani Berkelanjutan Foundation, Muhammad Teguh Surya said Thursday (28/5).

In a press release issued to mark a decade of the Indonesia-Norway partnership cooperation, Madani said that it appreciated the lowering of deforestation in Indonesia “although not too significantly,” and said it was the results of various government corrective policies and good international cooperation.

Under the bilateral REDD++ partnership cooperation, Norway promised Indonesia the $1 billion in return for reducing its emission from deforestation and forest degradation which are the main contributor to the country’s CO2 emissions.

The results of an analysis conducted by Madani on deforestation data from the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry showed that Indonesia’s brut deforestation figure was showing a downward trend in the 2003-2018 period, with a upward jolt registered for 2014-2015, the period around the country’s political general elections at the time.

Fadli Ahmad Naufal, Madani’s GIS specialist, said in the same press release that cumulatively, the highest brut deforestation figure for the 2003-2018 period took place in Riau province with 1.8 million hectares, followed by Central Kalimantan with 1.4 million hectares, East Kalimantan with 1.2 million hectares and West Kalimantan with 1.16 million hectares.

Papua province had the country’s widest remaining natural forest in 2018, at 24.9 million hectares, Naufal said, adding that West Papua 8.8 million hectares, Central Kalimantan 7.2 million, East Kalimantan 6.5 million , North Kalimantan 5,6 million and West Kalimantan had 5.4 million hectares.

But he also said that even though the figure for remaining natural forests appeared significant, he cautioned that in reality the natural forest cover outside of the Indicative Map for the Postponing of New Licenses (PIPPB)  and the Indicative Map and Social Forestry Areas 9PIAPS) that were not under any license or concessions( for timber, oil palm, oil and gas and minerals and coals) was very small, at 9.5 million hectares or 10.7 percent of the 88.7 million hectares  of remaining natural forests in 2018.

Also read: Absence of Universally-Accepted Definition Behind Debate on Deforestation Rate

“These natural forests covering up to 9.5 million hectares need to be protected by an expanded policy for a freeze on new licences, so that they do not disappear because of large scale expansion of licences/concessions,” Surya said.

He added that the policy to postpone and evaluate palm oil concessions that is due to expire next year, must be extended and even have expanded to cover a halt in the issuance of new oil palm concession in all areas that still possess natural forests.

“This is very important so that Indonesian palm oil can shed the deforestation stigma that has sullied its image in the global market,” Surya said.

He said that the instruction of President Joko Widodo that the fund from Norway be used for forest and environment restoration programs based on communities, was spot on.

“The social forestry program, for example, has the potentials of contributing up to 34.6 percent to areas with a high deforestation risks, maximum assistance should be provided to the development of  local economies that are in line with the mitigation and adaptation actions to climate change,” Madani said in the release.

Surya also added that the BPDLH that was given the mandate to manage the fund from Norway must also make sure that it has a multi-side representations in its management structure, including representation of civic society and of indigenous/local communities, so that its program to reduce deforestation and degradation really can be rightly targeted and beneficial to the communities.

Speaking in the same release, Madani Manager for Knowledge Management, Anggalia Putri Permatasari, said that in order to “raise Indonesia’s bargaining power in the partnership” various corrective policies were very important and needed to not only be continue but also strengthened because even though Indonesia’s deforestation rate was lower, the figure was still above the ceiling set for the country’s climate commitment.

Permatasari took the example of the freeze in the provision of new licenses in primary natural forest and peat land, the postponing and evaluation of oil palm plantation concessions, social forestry, including the recognition of customary forests, the formulation of the roadmap to reach climate commitment and the implementation of peat ecosystem protection regulations.

“Indonesia still has quite a lot of homework to do to meet its own commitments and targets. And furthermore, there is the challenge if not threats coming from legislative efforts that carry the risk of weakening forest and environment protection regulations for the sake of investment that is the Draft Law on Job Creation, a law that has the potential of results in Indonesia’s failure to reach its climate change commitments,” Permatasari said.

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