Sustainable forest management and a healthy landscape

by Fitrian Ardiansyah, 3 December 2015, Paris, Indonesia Pavilion, COP-21, UNFCCC.

 

Fitrian_3 Dec_COP21

These remarks were taken from my presentation and discussion that contributed to a panel discussion on Natural Forest: Production and Conservation.

The key points are:

(1) IDH’s Tropical Timber Program has been working in three important tropical regions: i.e. Amazon, Congo Basin, Indonesia. We support and co-finance efforts of concessions and others to achieve certified sustainable forest management. In each region, the aim is to obtain 4 million ha of credible certified SFM (sustainable forest management). In Indonesia we collaborate with and support The Borneo Initiative and many concessions. The progress in Indonesia is that 1.5 million hectares have been certified (fully or control wood) and more than 2 million hectares are still in progress.

(2) We also work in the demand side, ensuring the uptake and market access of that SFM products.

(3) To achieve sustainability, addressing legality is a must and can act as a starting point. In our view, there will not be sustainability without legality. Initiatives like SVLK (timber legality verification system) in Indonesia should be encouraged and supported.

(4) Individual SFM and concessions are good but still insufficient, especially if we want to address cross-cutting issues and challenges. These include wildlife management and protection, fire, peat and water management, high conservation values and social dimension. These concessions – albeit having certified SFM – still need to work together among themselves and with other land use actors, including oil palm plantations, industrial timber plantations and communities. Based on this, selecting a landscape approach as a platform is imperative.

(5) In a landscape approach, not only regulations that would be crucial to guide collaboration, incentives need to be created so that better behaviour of land use actors can be ensured.

Please see the presentation here: SFM and landscape_FA_03122015

Note: Picture by Aristia Wanjaya

Advertisements

Can Indonesia balance its development?

By Fitrian Ardiansyah, published in Coal Asia, October 21 – November 21, 2013, page 148-149

for the pdf version, please see Opinion Fitrian Ardiansyah for Coalasia 36th_OctNov2013

Can IndonesiaMany people have acknowledged Indonesia as one of the world’s mega-centers of biological diversity. The ecosystems of this archipelagic nation, however, are being increasingly degraded, leading to natural resources depletion, impacting on people’s livelihoods and causing significant environmental damages.

As part of its coastal and marine areas, for instance, Indonesia harbors a huge portion of the world’s center of marine life otherwise known as the Coral Triangle (CT), which is home to 30 percent of the world’s coral reefs, more than 35 percent of its coral reef fish species and much of the tuna eaten around the world.

Located along the equator at the confluence of the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, not only the CT comprises valuable marine environments but also is a much sought-after tourist destination, providing a daily income to hundreds of millions of people as well as generating revenues for businesses and governments in Indonesia and neighboring countries.

A 2008 study led by Professor Ainsworth from the University of South Florida reveals that the coastal and marine ecosystems in the CT are already under extreme pressures such as from declining water quality, resource extraction, destructive fishing practices and overfishing. If the destruction continues, this will disrupt the multi-billion dollar economic activities associated with the tuna, tourism and coral reef ecosystems, disturbing one of the planet’s economic hubs.

A similar situation occurs in Indonesia’s forest ecosystems. The majority of the country’s forests such as those in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua are recognized in the Global 200 Ecoregions — nature regions, landscapes or seascapes that are
exceptionally important and symbolic for the survival of rich biodiversity features.

As with the country’s marine ecosystems, forests on many islands of Indonesia have come under the constant threat of destructive and illegal logging activities, expansion of agriculture and pulp plantations, destructive mining activities, as well as infrastructure development.

In some cases, even the supposedly ‘safe places’ such as protected areas are diminishing in conservation value as poorly planned and unsustainable development leads to poaching, encroachment, habitat fragmentation and forest fires.

Such problems affecting both terrestrial and marine ecosystems have been building for decades, dated back from the New Order regime. Economic development objectives focusing so much on natural resources exploitation have led to promising economic growth but with serious collateral consequences, including seasons of floods and landslides, droughts, fires and haze, and coral bleaching.

In recent years, the government of Indonesia appears to be increasingly proactive in trying to advance its environmental protection agenda along with its economic development targets.

There have been pledges and written commitments issued by the government, such as the famous pledge at the G20 meeting in 2009 announced by the president to cut the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or the forest and peat land conversion moratorium, and other initiatives including the Coral Triangle Initiative and the Heart of Borneo.

In many of his speeches, the Indonesian president re-affirmed the importance of environmental protection along with economic development and poverty alleviation.

Also, the country has equipped itself with new regulations concerning environmental protection and management, and sustainability. As an example, in October 2009, the government adopted Law No. 32 of 2009 on Environmental Protection and Management, replacing Law No. 23 of 1997 on Environmental Management which was deemed to be no longer sufficient in handling new environmental challenges.

With the above mentioned policy actions committed and carried out by the government, one big question remains as to whether such actions are sufficient for Indonesia to have effective environmental governance resulting in better environmental outcomes and balanced development.

Balanced development, or globally known as sustainable development, emphasizes a holistic, equitable and forward-looking approach to decision making at all levels — not just focusing on economic performance but also on the environmental and social aspects of development, including intra-generational and inter-generational equity.

Commitments to protect the country’s environment and achieve sustainable development are arguably ambitious. These require tremendous support from different layers of governments and different spectrums of society, including from the private sector
and the general public.

Albeit very slowly, platforms formulated and supported by civil society groups and the private sector to promote best practices in sustainable development (e.g. in forest management, fishery and agriculture) have emerged and some progress resulting from these platforms is being accomplished.

In the case of forest management, prior to 2009, only 1.1 million hectares of forests were certified under the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) amounting to 2 per cent of the country’s production forests. To date, approximately 26 companies with a total 2.6 million hectares of forests are undertaking a rigorous process for FSC certification.

As of 2011, there are also at least 1.8 million hectares of certified forests under the Indonesian Ecolabeling Institute (LEI). In addition to voluntary timber certification, the government introduced the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), which aims to verify the legality of all traded Indonesian timber products.

Both timber verification and forest certification is seeing Indonesia gradually move toward more responsible forestry practices. Yet, as those forests certified under FSC and LEI still make up only a small proportion of Indonesia’s total forests, achieving sustainability in this sector is still an enormous challenge.

Progress has also been made in fishery management indicated by the works carried out by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in Indonesia, in collaboration with the Indonesian government and national NGOs.

Such works in promoting collaborative sustainable natural resource management further requires not only political willingness but also concrete incentives and practical solutions on the ground.

Innovative designs of financial and fiscal mechanisms that can support sustainable practices seemingly are still far behind. Without the provision of appropriate and adequate incentives, it will be challenging to address threats to sustainable development and conservation, especially those coming from business activities and capital investment.

A 2011 study conducted by the Indonesian Corruption Watch shows that as a result of deforestation in a year, the country has lost about Rp14 trillion (US$1.6 billion). During the period of 2005-2009, the same study calculated an equivalent of Rp71.28 trillion as the costs of deforestation.

Therefore, balanced development can only be achieved if the country can combine their measured policies on sustainable development and environmental protection with strong economic incentives, and further mainstream these into the overall
government’s development agenda.

In brief, to achieve sustainability that ensures economic growth and environmental protection, Indonesia and its people have a massive challenge to transform and adjust their current development approach.

As a developing country, Indonesia has enormous potential and a good model to show that the country can protect,
maintain and even enhance its natural capital for current and future generations.

More importantly, this commitment should not be used as merely a ‘mantra’. It needs to be shaped as continuous progress and coloring the daily life of the nation.

————————-

The author is climate and sustainability specialist, a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University, and the recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award.

Improved governance crucial to protect our most pristine forests

by Fitrian Ardiansyah and Erik Meijaard, published in The Jakarta Globe, 20 September 2013, Opinion.

Original link: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/opinion/improved-governance-crucial-to-protect-our-most-pristine-forests/

A recent regulation issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the National REDD+ [reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus] Agency shows the government’s continuous willingness to better manage our environment. Yet, it also triggers an interesting question about whether the establishment of this new agency is sufficient to save our remaining forests.

Indonesia is one of the most important countries in the world for biodiversity and ecosystem conservation, and has more species than all other countries but Brazil. Also, because of its unique geology, the country has very high levels of endemism: species occur here but nowhere else.

Indonesia and its population have every reason to be proud of their incredible natural heritage. Nevertheless, more serious and comprehensive efforts appear to be needed to ensure that this heritage can be sustained and enjoyed by future generations too.

In Indonesia, some of the most pristine forests have been gazetted as protected areas. These are the cornerstone of ecosystem and wildlife conservation, and to a large extent, have provided human populations with valuable goods and services, including water and local climate regulation.

Protected areas are supposed to provide a safe haven for endangered animal and plant life, away from the human threats, such as over-exploitation and disturbance. In this country, however, the reality seems different. Two recent studies, for instance, found that Indonesian protected areas had suffered from significant deforestation between 2000 and 2010.

A study by Douglas Fuller of the University of Miami and colleagues — in press in the Indonesian Journal of Nature Conservation — is likely the first-ever assessment looking at all terrestrial protected areas in Indonesia, including national parks, and nature and wildlife reserves. The study reveals that between 2000 and 2010 these areas lost 3,700 square kilometers of forest, equaling about half the greater metropolitan area of Jakarta.

When it comes to the status of the areas, deforestation rates in nature and wildlife reserves were about twice as high as those in national parks. Such different deforestation rates may be due to the fact that national parks have been slightly better equipped with funds, human resources and technology compared to other protected areas.

A second study published in the journal PLOS ONE, and led by David Gaveau of the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, confirms similar findings.

This study assessed forest loss in Kalimantan between 2000 and 2010. An estimated 303,525 square kilometers or 57 percent of Kalimantan’s land area was covered by natural forest in 2000, of which 14,212 square kilometers had been cleared by 2010. Forests in oil palm concessions had been reduced by 5,600 square kilometers, while the figures for logging concessions are 1,336 square kilometers and for protected forests 1,122 square kilometers. The remaining deforestation happened in land with other uses, such as small-scale agriculture.

In relative terms the study showed that deforestation rates in timber concessions and protected areas were not significantly different. This is a surprising finding since timber removal is obviously allowed in logging concessions but not in protected areas.

This finding, however, can provide a crucial suggestion. This could mean regardless of the status of forests — either production or conservation and unless not changed to conversion forest — as long the areas are well managed, deforestation can be largely avoided.

Under Indonesian laws, logging concessions have to be managed sustainably and remain permanently forest-covered. If these concessions are well-managed, they can continuously function as wildlife habitats and host a wide range of forest species, as well as generate income for government, companies and surrounding communities.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature recognizes this conservation potential of well-managed timber concessions.

Still, this only works as long as the government does not license the conversion of these natural forest concessions to non-forest land uses, such as oil palm plantations, which are of far less value to wildlife, ecosystems and people’s livelihoods.

The remaining forests of Indonesia provide important wildlife habitats and are greatly valued by people for a range of products and services (including flood buffering, temperature control, but also a free source of bush meat and fish). The future of Indonesia’s forest wildlife and the prevention of natural disasters therefore greatly depends on preventing further forest loss in protected areas and timber concessions.

The two studies suggest, however, that much works needs to be done by the Indonesian government and society since either protected areas or logging concessions seem to be inadequately managed and not strong enough to prevent deforestation.

The core weaknesses of the present protected area management system, for instance, will have to be addressed urgently. Performance-based systems should help the government to reward improvement in management and penalize failure, increasing the accountability of those in charge. The new REDD+ agency could support such systems.

Sustainable management of remaining forest areas from which timber can be legally harvested is a second key strategy. President Yudhoyono, for example, committed in 2012 to maintaining at least 45 percent of Kalimantan’s land area as forest.

Achieving such a target requires integration of forest estate planning, including prevention of further conversion of the remaining forests and ensuring that other development planning, both at sub-national and national levels, is synergized. Also, improved governance of forests requires further reforms in forest and land use licensing and management.

Indonesia still has significant forest areas. The future of these valuable resources is in the hands of the government, private sector and public. We need to continuously make decisions and put forward actions that not only boost our current economic growth but also sustain it and secure the country’s future economy by keeping and sustainably managing our forests.

Fitrian Ardiansyah is a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University and a recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award.

Erik Meijaard is a long-term Indonesia-based conservation scientist leading the Borneo Futures initiative as a consultant for People and Nature Consulting International.

Rio+20 and the fate of sustainable development

Strategic Review

The Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy and World Affairs, by Fitrian Ardiansyah, 18 May 2012

Original link: http://www.sr-indonesia.com/2011-08-09-22-09-10/commentaries/193-rio20-and-the-fate-of-sustainable-development

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), being held in June in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, will undoubtedly raise a critical question about how far countries have advanced sustainable development and mitigated environmental degradation.

Sustainable development, defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, was introduced in the 1987 Brundtland Report and reaffirmed 20 years ago in Rio. This is why this year’s UNCSD is also known as Rio+20, marking the 20th anniversary of one of the famous large-scale gatherings on environmental issues, the 1992 Earth Summit, which was held in the same city.

During the 1992 Earth Summit, world leaders agreed to uphold sustainable development, demonstrated by, among others, the adoption of Agenda 21, the signings of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the issuance of the Declaration of Forest Principles. Agenda 21 is a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection at the global, national and local levels.

The CBD, signed by 150 government leaders, provides a platform to achieve sustainable development since it recognizes crucial functions and services of biodiversity and natural ecosystems that directly and indirectly support people and their needs. The Forest Principles, which focuses particularly on forest ecosystems, is the first global consensus that encourages nations to conserve, restore and manage these already fragile and threatened resources.

Another major breakthrough in the 1992 Rio Earth Summit was the signing of the UNFCCC. The convention created an umbrella for global efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change, which is perceived as one of the biggest threats to human civilization. With the UNFCCC, nations recognize that the climate system is a shared resource and all governments and people on our planet have the responsibility to ensure its stability.

Two decades have passed since the first UNCSD, yet progress toward the achievement of the objectives of the above conventions and commitments, according to many scholars, has been very slow.

In the 2010 editorial section of Wiley’s Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs) of Climate Change—Climate and Development, Daniel Murdiyarso of the Center for International Forestry Research argued that global programs and actions to achieve safe drinking water, improved health and reduced mortality, food security and reduced hunger, and environment sustainability – as also reflected in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – fell very short toward their targets.

When commenting about the MDGs in 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said: “We have made important progress toward all eight goals, but we are not on track to fulfill our commitments.”

With regard to food security and the use of land and water, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, for example, reported in 2011 that although agricultural production has as much as tripled due to significant increases in the yield of major crops, global achievements in production in some regions have been associated with degradation of land and water resources and the deterioration of related ecosystem goods and services.

The report indicated that significant biomass, carbon storage, soil health, water storage and supply, biodiversity and social and cultural services have been negatively affected by the global agriculture production from the use of 11 percent of the world’s land surface and 70 percent of all water withdrawn from aquifers, streams and lakes for crop production. In the same report, agricultural policies are viewed to have primarily benefitted farmers with productive land and access to water, bypassing the majority of small-scale producers who are still locked in a poverty trap of high vulnerability, land degradation and climatic uncertainty.

In Indonesia, a 2008 study written by Sugiyanto and Candra R Samekto of the ministries of Public Works and National Development Planning revealed that the country had already experienced water shortages in some areas during the dry season and flood events during the rainy season.

Specific water issues that Indonesia faces, as described in this study, include in imbalance between supply and demand in a spatial and temporal perspective and degraded river basins. For instance, increasing water demand – the total water needs of the country was 112.3 billion cubic meters in 2003 and approximately 117.7 billion cubic meters in 2009 – combined with limited water availability will certainly aggravate the water scarcity problem and trigger water conflict.

Biodiversity is also under threat. In the 2010 State of the Planet’s Biodiversity, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) provided gloomy facts. Species extinction is a natural part of Earth’s evolution, the reported noted, but during the past 100 years humans have increased the extinction rate by at least 100 times compared to the natural rate.

The report stated that virtually all of Earth’s ecosystems have been dramatically transformed through human actions; for example, 35 percent of mangroves and 20 percent of coral reefs have been lost. The report further argued that important ecosystems continue to be converted for agricultural and other uses at a constant pace during at least the past century.

In the 2010 State of Biodiversity of Asia and the Pacific, UNEP ranked Indonesia second after Australia as having the most threatened plant and animal species in the region. This is due to, among other things, high rates of fragmentation and net loss of forests that have continued in many countries in Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2009.

Still, 20 years after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, it is not all doom and gloom for the Earth and its people. Increasing collaborative works among state and non-state actors or between businesses and nongovernmental organizations have brought about gradual but important changes toward achieving sustainable development.

The development and application of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – a pioneering certification scheme for forest products harvested based on strict environmental, social and economic criteria – is an example of a concrete step forward from the 1992 Forest Principles. Under the FSC, more than 130 million hectares of forest and 8.5 percent of forest products in international trade are now certified, allowing important reforms in the relevant chains of custody and behavioral changes of end consumers. Other forest certification schemes have also been developed.

A similar case can be argued about the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a certification scheme for wild-caught seafood. To date, this scheme has produced more than 100 MSC-certified fisheries and 7,000 certified products available worldwide.

When it comes to the protection of large-scale threatened biodiversity and ecosystems, a multi-partners work that launched a 10-year initiative to preserve 12 percent, or 60 million hectares, of the Brazilian Amazon under the Amazon Region Protected Area can be used as a showcase. The protected area and other similar efforts in the Amazon are the world’s largest in situ conservation schemes, creating more than 30 million hectares of protected areas, ensuring further protection and improved management of 80 percent of the Amazon’s original forest and establishing a $29 million conservation fund.

Similar efforts have taken place in the Central Africa and Southeast Asia regions, such as the adoption of the Yaoundé Declaration (resulting in the protection and sustainable management of more than 10 percent of the Congo forest), and the creation of the Heart of Borneo (conservation and sustainable management of 22 million hectares of forest and terrestrial ecosystems).

In marine areas, comparable efforts have been undertaken through the Coral Triangle Initiative, a multilateral partnership of six countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste) formed in 2009 to address the urgent threats facing the coastal and marine resources of one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically rich regions on Earth.

Such progress, however, can only be further continued if existing and future threats, particularly from unsustainable land use and marine activities, are mitigated and important enabling conditions are improved, namely good economic policies that create positive incentives, good governance, clear land tenure and environmentally-friendly infrastructure development.

Rio+20, under one of the two themes of its upcoming conference, “Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication,” provides a venue for countries to openly and informally discuss comprehensive approaches using a green economy concept to address such threats and improve enabling conditions and propose solutions.

By using the green economy concept, it is expected that countries can be helped to transform their engines of economic growth, particularly through shifting investments – public and private, domestic and international – towards emerging green sectors and the greening of existing sectors, complemented by changes to unsustainable consumption patterns.

Such transformation is crucial to ensure sustainable development in most countries, especially developing countries including Indonesia. Without significant transformation in countries’ economies, sustainable development is likely to remain an oxymoron concept.

Indonesia, as a large developing country, has a real stake and hence is required to come up with a strong position to negotiate so that countries agree at Rio+20 for a worldwide transition toward a green economy and concrete application of sustainable development.


Fitrian Ardiansyah is a Climate and Sustainability Specialist, doctoral candidate at the Australian National University and the recipient of the Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award.

Saving Sumatra’s forests: World heritage in danger

The Jakarta Post, Fitrian Ardiansyah and Thomas Barano, Canberra/Jakarta | Sun, 04/22/2012 12:49 PM

Original link: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/04/22/saving-sumatra-s-forests-world-heritage-danger.html

In light of the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, celebrated this year on April 22, the government and citizens of Indonesia are again reminded of the huge challenges they face in halting or reversing the declining state of their natural forests, including those on Sumatra.

Sumatra is a rare island in that it harbors four endangered and unique mammals, namely the Sumatran orangutan, the Sumatran elephant, the Sumatran rhino and the Sumatran tiger.

Its lowland forests are recognized as part of the Global 200 Ecoregions — nature regions, landscapes or seascapes that are exceptionally important and symbolic for the survival of rich biodiversity features.

In 2004, 2.5 million hectares of Sumatra’s rainforests were included on the World Heritage List of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for their rich and unique biodiversity.

According to UNESCO, the tropical rainforest heritage of Sumatra, comprising Gunung Leuser, Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan national parks, is home to an estimated 10,000 plant species, more than 200 mammal species and some 580 bird species.

However, the forests on this island have come under the constant threat of destructive and illegal logging activities, expansion of agriculture and pulp plantations, as well as infrastructure development.

Then environment minister Gusti Mohammad Hatta stated in 2010 that Sumatra had experienced tremendous pressures resulting from natural resource exploitation. He further argued that natural forests had decreased, leaving only 29 percent of forest cover on the island.

A 2010 technical report submitted to the National Forestry Council and the National Development Planning Agency, which provided scientific analysis of the state of Sumatra’s natural forests, found a steep decline in forest area from 25.3 million hectares (58 percent of land cover) in 1985 to 12.8 million hectares in 2008/2009 (29 percent), which equals an annual loss of 0.54 million hectares (approximately eight times that of Jakarta’s territory).

In 2011, UNESCO placed the tropical rainforest heritage of Sumatra on the list of those world heritage sites in danger. The organization viewed that the forests had been frequently under pressure from poaching, illegal logging, agricultural encroachment and road development.

To respond to these challenges, plans and initiatives have been developed, with activities undertaken at different levels, particularly focusing on sustaining the management and conserving the remaining forests on the island.

One of the key initiatives is the Road Map for Saving the Sumatra Ecosystem: Sumatra’s Vision 2020, which was signed in 2010 by four ministers (forestry, environment, home and public works) and 10 governors (Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, Riau, Bangka-Belitung, Bengkulu, South Sumatra and Lampung).

This initiative outlines the governments’ commitment to developing spatial plans on the island based on ecosystem values, functions and services, restoring critical areas and protecting the remaining conservation high value areas.

Key components of this initiative include the promotion of sustainable forests, responsible agriculture development and payments for environmental services, such as for water services and forest carbon.

An initial good sign appears in the form of Presidential Decree No. 13/2012 on Sumatra Island Spatial Planning, which stipulates the intention of the government to at least maintain 40 percent of remaining forests as conservation areas and restore already degraded forests.

Yet, there is a gulf between a high-level commitment and seeing desired changes on the ground.

To bridge the gap between commitment and implementation, strong support from the corporate sector is required, mainly from agriculture and pulp plantations, to ensure that the development of plantations will no longer replace forests and peat lands.

A recent petition signed on behalf of various organizations submitted to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to save the habitats of orangutans in the Gunung Leuser ecosystem proves the necessity of engaging the aforementioned sector. In this letter, these organizations say that the fires that are intended to clear forests in the province of Aceh for oil palm plantations have threatened the ecosystem, endangering 300 orangutans and pushing the species even closer to extinction.

Another aspect crucially required to realize the commitment is the support and involvement of local governments and people as well as indigenous communities. With a decentralized government system in place, regional governments hold relatively more power and authority to manage and control their natural resources.

Options or incentives provided to help local governments to develop their economies in sustainable ways are, thus, imperative to keep the remaining forests intact.

Such incentives — for forest protection and management — particularly have to be significant so that they are sufficient enough to counter the economic drivers of deforestation, which include logging and plantation development.

More importantly, these incentives have to reach local and indigenous communities, who are considered the users and providers of ecosystem services. Without their support and involvement, any initiatives may yield results but will not last long.

Furthermore, since Sumatra’s rainforests have been acknowledged as one of the world’s treasures, international communities have a high degree of responsibility to contribute to the creation of positive incentives that can advance the conservation and sustainable management of these globally significant forests.

As reflected by this year’s Earth Day theme: “Mobilizing the Earth”, initiatives to save what remains of Sumatra’s forests clearly require strong support from and the involvement of different actors at different levels.

Such a broad-based effort in garnering support is definitely a good test-case as to whether we, the people of this planet, can stand united in creating a sustainable future, at least, for Sumatra and its inhabitants.

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