Indonesia’s forest: a year in moratorium

Published in COAL ASIA MAGAZINE, OPINION, JUNE 14-JULY 14, 2012, PAGE 133-134 and OGE ASIA MAGAZINE, OPINION, JUNE 25-JULY 25, 2012, PAGE 50-51

by Fitrian Ardiansyah

To see the pdf version, please click Opini_CoalAsia_July2012 and/or opini OGE

A little over a year ago, Indonesia issued a two-year moratorium on new permits for primary forest and peat-land clearing. To date, a critical question remains whether the country has come up with better forest and land use management while allowing other sectors to develop.

This moratorium is intended to contribute to the program of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and to some extent provide a degree of legal certainty in land use governance in Indonesia.

Prior to the issuance of moratorium, for instance in December 2010, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) found in its study on forestry policies and systems that unclear definitions and boundary of forest areas in Law No. 41 of 1999 on Forestry and other relevant regulations are perceived to be a key reason of chaotic land use management in this country that eventually leads to a significant increase in deforestation.

Furthermore, according to the KPK, this situation, coupled with the lack of applied fair procedure in designating forest areas, has weakened the legitimacy of 88.2 per cent of forest areas (more than 105.8 million hectares). In fact, the KPK found that not all of these forest areas have been gazetted in law.

A study carried out by the Ministry of Forestry in 2009 concurs with this argument by stating that one of the indirect causes of deforestation is the difficulty of controlling the boundaries of production and protected forests, leaving them vulnerable to illegal logging, mining and conversion.

The above situation has also created uncertainty among different sectors intending to utilize land for their development projects.

It is, therefore, not uncommon in Indonesia to have overlapping claims for power over state forests and peat lands, between national and sub-national levels, as well as among sectors regulated by different government ministries (i.e. forestry, agriculture, energy and mineral resources and public works).

The above ministries are often known to have overlapping policies on land use, including processes for obtaining permits.

Hence, the issue of whether the forest conversion moratorium or REDD+ program in general will achieve its goal will not necessarily depend on one particular sector, but rather on multiple sectors and actors involved in land use activities.

Given such complexity, it appears that the REDD+ taskforce, which is given a mandate by Indonesia’s President to develop the national REDD+ strategy and oversee the moratorium, has achieved some initial progress in working with different agencies and sectors, particularly to arrive at an agreed moratorium indicative map (MIM), which would contribute to avoiding confusion and creating legal certainty.

The agencies engaged include the National Survey and Mapping Coordinating Agency (Bakosurtanal), the Ministry of Forestry, the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Land Agency (BPN) and the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4).

The MIM, required to outline the areas covered in the moratorium, is being updated every six months incorporating the latest sets of data from the above agencies and results from site visits. A second MIM is currently available, albeit with some discrepancies of figures between the two maps, as reported by the taskforce.

Since there are many sectors, layers of government and actors involved, it is understandable that to get an agreed MIM, some additions or reductions of relevant forest and land cover figures are required. Also, negotiations and trade-offs are likely to take place among these sectors and actors.

The future of this moratorium (including the improvement of MIM) and the overall national REDD+ strategy will depend so much on whether the initiative could increase positive involvement of the businesses, actors, and layers of government that are influential in causing land use change.

The development sectors of forestry (e.g. logging concessions, industrial timber plantations), agriculture (e.g. oil palm plantations), mining, and infrastructure are the key players in Indonesia’s development, and therefore their involvement and coordination in the moratorium and REDD+ process is crucial.

Gaining positive involvement or support from these actors and sector is truly a challenge, especially if the moratorium and REDD+ strategy do not clearly lay out the subsequent steps that allow these sectors to develop options.

For instance, there is a need to further improve data quality and transparency, showing which areas are protected (“no go areas” for development) and are not (“go areas” – that could include fallow lands and degraded lands).

According to the World Resource Institute (WRI), although releasing the current map was a landmark step toward improved transparency, the additional data provided were incomplete, did not include metadata, were difficult to download, and were not up to date.

Without accurate data on forestry and other permits, it is a herculean task for the government to enforce the moratorium and for the private sector to invest in areas that will not replace forests or peat lands.

The WRI argues that technically sound, legally accurate, and up-to-date spatial data, including license and permit data, should be made available, independently reviewed, maintained, and continuously improved.

Another fundamental factor that could lead to attracting positive support from these actors and sectors is the provision of positive incentives to get out of unsustainable practices and eventually maintain and properly manage forests and peat lands.

Currently, the private sector, communities and local governments have little direct incentive to manage and conserve these natural ecosystems.

In fact, there are cases when incentives planned to be used for better forest management (e.g. the Reforestation Fund) have been abused. As a result, the figures of forest degradation and deforestation further increase dramatically.

On the contrary, there are big investments for large-scale development in different sectors, which lead to greater exploitation of forest and peat land resources.

Market access for sustainable products and REDD+ fund for better forest and land use management can be named as potential candidates of incentives provided for land use actors who would like to pursue sustainable practices.

The question, however, still remains as to whether these incentives will be able to compete with such big investments which have thus far been responsible for changing Indonesia’s land use patterns.

World Bank in 2006 argues that adequate positive incentives are required, and must go hand-in-hand with forest law enforcement and governance initiatives, to increase the costs of non-compliance.

According to the Bank, insufficient incentives, on the other hand, would not result in a long term investment in and stewardship of forests and production facilities which are important to ensure the reduction of deforestation and forest degradation.

A year of experience in implementing this two-year forest conversion moratorium provides a good reminder for Indonesia and its citizens that the challenges of achieving better land use and forest management while developing its economy are greater than ever.

The above mentioned issues, include, among others, increasing legal certainty as well developing options and incentives for sustainable practices, need to be further addressed, quickly and seriously.

Failure to address these issues may hinder the development and implementation of the moratorium, the overall REDD+ program and consequently disrupt Indonesia’s opportunity to develop its economy in a greener and sustainable way.

The writer is climate and sustainability specialist, a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University, and the recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award. He can be reached at  fitrian.ardiansyah@anu.edu.au 

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Pushing forward to better land use

The Jakarta Post, Fitrian Ardiansyah and Thomas Barano, Jakarta | Sun, 27 May 2012, 8:00 AM

May and June are shaping up to show if Indonesia has achieved significant progress in promoting better land-use management, particularly in reducing deforestation and land degradation.

May 20, for instance, marks the completion of the first year of Indonesia’s two-year moratorium on new permits for primary forest and peat-land clearing. June 5 is World Environment Day, with its “Green Economy: Does it Include You?” theme — in which land-use management is considered to be one of six high-growth sectors in the green economy.

The moratorium is an integral part of REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, and sustainable management of forest) policy development and is expected to improve forest and land-use governance, especially in synergizing mapping and licensing systems.

A synchronized, synergized and agreed-to map — adhered by various sectors and layers of government — of forest and land use in Indonesia is fundamental to address the challenges facing our land-use management.

The recent debate between Greenpeace and the President’s special staff on climate change on the exact figure of forest cover loss has reaffirmed the importance of having a credible, reliable, accessible and transparent mapping system of forest and land use. Without that, Indonesia cannot measure and account for greenhouse gas emissions, land-use changes and forests.

More importantly, a credible map would lay the foundations for the settlement of land conflicts.

In December 2010, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) found in its study on forestry policies and systems that a synchronized map of forest areas that can be used by stakeholders did not exist. Instead, there were at least four different versions that, utilizing various scales, were incompatible with each other.

According to the KPK, the lack of a consolidated map, coupled with unclear definitions and boundaries of forest areas as well as a lack of fair procedures in designating forest areas, has weakened the legitimacy of 88.2 percent of forest areas, or more than 105.8 million hectares.

Despite the fact that it is very challenging to have an agreed map, given the variety of sectors and actors that have interests in forest and land use, it appears that this issue has been gradually addressed through the development and refinement of the moratorium-indicative map (MIM).

The REDD+ taskforce, which is given a mandate by Indonesia’s President to develop the national REDD+ strategy, has been working with different agencies to arrive at an agreed, indicative map of the moratorium, to avoid confusion and create legal certainty.

The agencies include the National Survey and Mapping Coordinating Agency (Bakosurtanal), the Forestry and Agriculture Ministries, the National Land Agency (BPN) and the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4).

The MIM is required to outline the areas covered in the moratorium and is being updated every six months to integrate the latest sets of data from additional agencies and to incorporate results from site visits.

To date, a second MIM is available, albeit with some discrepancies of figures between the two maps, as reported by the taskforce.

In the first MIM, the total moratorium area was 69.1 million hectares with, primary forests and peat-land accounting for 7.2 million and 10.68 million hectares. In the second MIM, the total moratorium area was reduced to 65.5 million hectares, with primary forests and peat-land covering 8.39 million and 5.9 million hectares.

Overall, the total change in moratorium area is 3.6 million hectares, with changes in primary forests and peat-land of 1.16 million and 4.76 million hectares.

The taskforce argues that such differences occurred because the first MIM only used definitions of natural-primary forests from the Forestry Ministry and definitions of peat-land from the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) and Wetlands International, incorporating areas with ongoing land-use activities such as for estate crops and settlements, covered only by licenses issued by the ministry without any field-survey
components.

The second MIM, according to the taskforce, has covered information provided by different agencies involved. This map, for instance, has taken into account the definitions and data of peat-land from the Agriculture Ministry, licenses issued by the BPN, and some field studies and research on peat-land nationwide.

Since there are many sectors and actors involved, it is understandable that synchronizing the map may add or reduce the relevant forest and land cover figures. Also, negotiations and trade-offs are likely to take place among these sectors and actors.

To obtain a credible map, however, such processes need transparency that allows the wider public to access the map.

The recent case of the clearing and burning of Tripa peat-swamp forests for palm oil in Aceh’s Nagan Raya district is a clear example of a “small” but serious discrepancy of forest and land cover in the MIM that needs to be urgently addressed, especially when it comes to monitoring and evaluating land-use licenses and activities in more than 400 local governments.

The involvement of civil society in protesting the license issued for this land and reporting this case to the central government has eventually pushed the REDD+ taskforce, the Environment Ministry, the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office investigate this case.

This recent case clearly provides a valuable lesson. For instance, to avoid future land conflicts at the local level, improving spatial resolution of the MIM needs to be prioritized.

Further, it is imperative to produce a common map not only for the sake of legal certainty but to also provide credible and transparent mapping and licensing systems — feeding back to district/provincial land-use policies and regimes — so that land-use management will bring about better social, economic and environmental outcomes.

Fitrian Ardiansyah is a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University and a recipient of an Australian Leadership Award and an Allison Sudradjat Award. Thomas Barano is conservation spatial planning specialist of WWF-Indonesia.

Revisiting the global role of tropical forest nations

The Strategic Review Journal, Volumen 2, No. 1, Jan-Mar 2012.

Author: Fitrian Ardiansyah is a Climate and Sustainability Specialist Based in Canberra, Australia. He spent 14 years working in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, including as the Adviser and Program Director for climate and energy at World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia.

Please find the link to the first part of this article here: http://www.sr-indonesia.com/this-months-issue/indonesia-360/131-revisiting-the-global-role-of-tropical-forest-nations (the complete article can be purchased by subscribing to the journal). This first part of the can also be found below:

Revisiting the global role of tropical forest nations

Rapid development of tropical forest nations has led not only to economic growth but also to environmental degradation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Situated between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, these nations are home to peatlands, savannas and half of the world’s forests, which are considered among the most valuable ecosystems in the world.

The trade of timber and other products derived from these ecosystems provides substantial foreign exchange earnings for these nations and contributes to global wealth. Such economic gains, however, are accompanied by a high rate of forest loss, which is turn has been identified as a crucial factor in causing flooding, droughts, wildfires and recently, climate change. Striking the right balance between economic development and environmental protection, therefore, is an immediate challenge for these nations and the world.

Tropical forest nations, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), include 23 countries in the Americas, 37 in Africa and 16 in Asia. Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Indonesia are the three largest tropical forest nations, each representing a different continent (Figure 1). The combined total estimated forest area of these three nations in 2010, as reported by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), is 771.5 million hectares – more than half of the world’s tropical forests. For decades, government policies and private investment in these three nations have been viewed as the root causes of the exploitation of their forests and terrestrial ecosystems. These policies and investments have yielded considerable economic returns. Forests play an important role in the national economies of these three countries and provide livelihoods for local communities.

Figure 1: The Map of Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia

click picture for bigger size

Source: The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), 2011

In Brazil, a study written by Eustáquio J Reis and Fernando A Blanco and published in 2000 revealed that macroeconomic and regional policies implemented after the 1960s played a decisive role in driving forest exploitation and clearance. For instance, credit and fiscal subsidies to agriculture, supported by an expanded road network, pushed the agricultural frontier, particularly cattle ranching, further into the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest. In recent decades, however, multiple factors and actors have been considered as the driving forces. These include road, railway and other infrastructure construction, government policies on colonization and subsidies for agro-pastoral projects (mainly cattle ranching), agricultural modernization (associated with the diversification of output towards commercial crops such as soybeans), timber extraction and mining, and charcoal production.

To read the complete article: Subscribe now

About Strategic Review:

The Strategic Review is the Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy and World Affairs with its editorial board led by Dr Hassan Wirajuda (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs) and its advisory board consists of Prof Juwono Sudarsono (Former Minister of Defense), Let Gen (Ret) Agus Widjojo (Executive Board in the Partnership for Governance Reform), Prof. John Thomas (Harvard Kennedy School of Government USA), Prof. Erhard Friedberg (Sciences Po France) and Prof Arne Westad (London School of Economics UK).

Along with my article, there are other articles published in this edition including those written by Christine Lagarde (Managing Director of the IMF), Dr Dino Patti Djalal (The Ambassador of Indonesia to the US), Dr Muhammad Chatib Basri (the Vice Chairman  of the National Economic Committee of the President  of the Republic of Indonesia) and Sydney Jones (International Crisis Group). The complete journal can be found at http://www.sr-indonesia.com/

Fixing legal loopholes in Indonesia’s forest and land use governance

January 27th, 2011

Published on East Asia Forum, Author: Fitrian Ardiansyah, ANU

As a country with one of the largest areas of rainforest in the world, it is not surprising that Indonesia is also considered a pioneer in the development of REDD+ (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

In early 2007, the Ministry of Forestry (MoF) formed the Indonesia Forest Climate Alliance (IFCA) with the help of various government departments, donor agencies, research institutions and NGOs to initiate the development of REDD+ policies. Later that year, IFCA managed to outline key elements of REDD+, including methodologies, land-use policies, institutional arrangement and benefit distribution mechanisms.

Following the work of IFCA, the MoF has issued a number of ministerial decrees, which aim at governing REDD+ demonstration activities and providing an umbrella for benefit distribution mechanisms.

Last year in Oslo, on the same occasion as the signing of a letter of intent between the Indonesian and Norwegian governments, to signal his support for REDD+, the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced his commitment to halt all new concessions for conversion of peat and natural forests in two years, supposed to start in January 2011.

To realise this, the Indonesian government has to produce a clear strategy and legal framework which guides the moratorium of forest conversion and the overall REDD+. However, these existing and potential future regulations may not be sufficient to provide firm legal direction in developing and exercising REDD+.

A number of organisations argue that to have successful REDD+ the country has to reform its forest and land use governance, starting from the regulations that have shaped this governance system.

The latest institution to speak out about this issue is Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). When releasing its study on forestry late last year, the KPK emphasised that unclear definitions of forest areas in Law No. 41 of 1999 on Forestry and other relevant regulations (i.e., Government Regulation No. 44 of 2004, and MoF’s Decree No. 32 of 2001 and 50 of 2009) can be considered as one of the indirect causes of deforestation.

According to the KPK, this unclear definition and boundary of forest areas, coupled with the lack of applied fair procedure in designating forest areas, has weakened the legitimacy of 88.2 per cent of forest areas (more than 105.8 million hectares).

To make things worse, the KPK found that not all of these forest areas have been gazetted in law.

A study carried out by the MoF in 2009 concurs with this argument by stating that one of the indirect causes of deforestation is the difficulty of controlling the boundaries of production and protected forests, leaving them vulnerable to illegal logging.

This situation, according to the commission, has created a legal loophole for illegal loggers and illegal miners to continue their actions and avoid legal implications.

Another revelation by the KPK is that the division of authorities, roles and responsibilities among different layers of governments remains unclear and problematic, especially in determining forest areas in the spatial planning process.

In its study, the KPK found that an agreed synchronised map of forest areas which can be used by stakeholders does not as yet exist. Instead, there are at least four different versions which, utilising various scales, are not compatible with each other.

It is of course very challenging to resolve this given the variety of sectors that have interests in forest and land use — sectors which, furthermore, are regulated under different ministries and layers of government. These institutions are known to have issued overlapping policies on land use and land use changes, and influenced the issuance of different documents and maps of forest and land use.

For example, based on Law No. 41 of 1999, the authority to manage state forest is under the national-level MoF. The ministry has control over almost every activity in state forest and this law has repealed much of the authority decentralised under Law No. 22 of 1999 on Regional Governance.

This arrangement appears to be centralistic and contradict with the authority of local governments in their spatial planning under the decentralised system. As a result, there are often cases in which spatial planning which allocates forest areas at district level is contradictory with the planning at the higher ruling.

With de facto decentralisation processes, particularly in the forestry and land use sectors, occurring more quickly than de jure ones it is therefore imperative to deal with this issue seriously. The KPK has recommended the MoF to patch these legal loopholes, at the latest, by the end of this year. And, if REDD+ is to be actively and effectively carried out, it is urgent this advice is heeded.

Fitrian Ardiansyah is advisor to WWF Indonesia on climate and energy, a PhD candidate at the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University and a recipient of the Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award.

Original link: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2011/01/27/fixing-legal-loopholes-in-indonesia%E2%80%99s-forest-and-land-use-governance/

Untangling the web of REDD governance

Fitrian Ardiansyah, Climate Solutions Column, The Jakarta Post | Tue, 08/03/2010 8:08 AM | Environment

Following the signing of an agreement between Norway and Indonesia implementing the UN’s reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus (REDD+) program, the Indonesian government is seriously considering an idea to establish a REDD council.

This council is expected to report directly to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to coordinate REDD+ implementation efforts in the country.

In addition, the council would regulate REDD+ projects and decide which projects would be endorsed prior to registration at the United Nations (UN).

The government thinks that unapproved REDD projects would be prevented by the creation of
this council.

Unsurprisingly, the idea to establish a REDD council has sparked different responses. Some have supported it and others have responded skeptically.

Those supporting the idea state that the council is crucial for the country to reduce emissions from deforestation comprehensively — across sectors — and lift the burden of this gigantic task from the Forestry Ministry.

According to Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, the REDD council may reduce his ministry’s authority on forests, but could also help the ministry focus on its main (and huge) task of managing Indonesia’s dwindling forests.

Proponents of a REDD council believe it would smooth the process of developing policies, institutions and a legal framework for the implementation of REDD+.

On the other hand, others argue that REDD council may not be the appropriate institution to ensure coordination across sectors and among different layers of governments and actors when it comes to dealing with deforestation and land use changes.

Deforestation and the destruction of terrestrial ecosystems are often associated with the development of major sectors such as forestry, agriculture, mining and infrastructure.

These sectors are regulated under different ministries (i.e., forestry, agriculture, energy and mineral resources and public works). These ministries are known to have often overlapping policies on land use and land use changes.

It is therefore essential that any institution developed to oversee the formulation and implementation
of REDD+ has to actively and directly involve and coordinate these sectors and the ministries overseeing the sectors.

A REDD council needs to get these sectors involved and to gain support when it comes to issuing and implementing policies on REDD+.

Good policies on REDD+ are required to cover and clarify forest tenure and management, overlapping land use and agricultural policies and coordination of district, provincial and national level agencies and actors.

Some experts suggest that the country needs to learn a lesson from the current National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) as well as other relevant institutions and policies created by the President and his ministries.

The creation of DNPI in 2008 by Yudhoyono is an attempt to guide Indonesia’s efforts in integrating climate change into its development agenda.

To be able to do this, support from different sectors, governments and actors at national, provincial and district levels is crucial. However, securing this support remains a continuous challenge for DNPI.

DNPI itself has a working group on forestry issues that has been dealing with REDD Plus. It is yet to be seen as to how this unit will be positioned vis-a-vis a new REDD council.

The country also has the Coordinating Board of Spatial Planning (BKPRN) — led by the Coordinating Economic Ministry and supported by at least 13 ministries and agencies — that has the task to prepare, coordinate and monitor national spatial and land use planning.

In the context of these policies, the government has released a number of official documents that  emphasize the challenges of key climate change actions in sectors such as forestry, land use and agriculture.

These include the Finance Ministry’s Green Paper, the Environment Ministry’s Indonesia Second National Communication and the National Development Planning Ministry’s Indonesia Climate Change Sectoral Roadmap.

Without careful and thorough assessment, the establishment of a REDD council and its future policies would further tangle already a complicated web of forest and land use management.

Studies show that decentralization in this country, particularly in the forestry and land use sectors, has been incredibly rapid, with decentralization occurring effectively more quickly than legally.

Local governments, groups and individuals appear to have more power and authority. This has contributed to the gradual decline of the central government’s ability to both manage and protect forest and land use resources.

Having learnt from this and to demonstrate a good process in integrating sub-national and national levels of effective land use policies, recent initiatives to promote sustainable development have been
formulated.

These include “The Road Map for Saving Sumatra Island and Ecosystem”, “the Heart of Borneo” and “Papua Government Initiative”.

If formally established, it is important for REDD council to accommodate local voices and concerns and adjust its system to ensure effective implementation of REDD+.

The proposed REDD council is perceived as the litmus test to Indonesia’s ability to curb deforestation.

All will only end well if the government can come up with a design that can overcome the challenges mentioned above.

The writer is a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University, recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award and advisor to the World Wildlife Fund Indonesia on climate and energy issues. He can be reached at fitrian.ardiansyah@anu.edu.au

Original link: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/08/03/untangling-web-redd-governance.html