Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Governor says REDD scheme could save Borneo forests

Fri May 29, 2009
By Sunanda Creagh

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Nearly 60 percent of remaining forests
in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province could be saved by a
U.N.-backed scheme that aims to save forests in return for valuable
carbon credits, the provincial governor said on Friday.

Central Kalimantan, which covers an area of nearly 154,000 square
kilometers or about the size of the U.S. state of Georgia, has
suffered from severe land clearing driven by logging and the palm oil

It has about 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of carbon-dioxide
absorbing of forest left and Governor Teras Narang said more than half
could be earmarked for projects under the scheme called reduced
emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).

REDD's aim is to reward developing countries with potentially billions
of dollars in carbon credits in exchange for conserving their forests.
For a related factbox on REDD, see [ID:nSP409319].

"In accordance with our plan, we will protect about 57 percent. Later
it could be more. I hope so," Narang said in an interview with Reuters
at a forest conference in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Indonesia earlier this month became the world's first country to
release a set of rules governing REDD but the scheme is in its infancy
globally. It is expected to formally become part of a broader U.N.
climate pact likely to be agreed in December.

Deforestation is responsible for nearly 20 percent of mankind's
greenhouse gas emissions and tropical forests, such as those in
Kalimantan on Borneo island, in particular soak up vast amounts of
CO2, acting like lungs for the atmosphere.


REDD aims to curb the rate of forest destruction and promote
replanting of damaged or degraded areas to help them soak up more CO2.

But key issues such as how to distribute the money from REDD credit
sales to local communities still need to be worked out.

"We want to know about our rights and our duties, especially for the
local people. We do not want, after we agree, then our people do not
know about their rights," the governor said, adding he considered REDD
more important than palm oil plantations that cover large areas of

He said the province was already in negotiations for REDD schemes
covering 5 to 10 percent of remaining forest area.

Logging and palm oil plantations combined destroyed 2.4 million
hectares of Central Kalimantan's forests between 1990 and 2005, said
Fitrian Ardiansyah, WWF's program director for climate and energy in

He said there was between eight and 10 million hectares of forest left
in the province, adding the provincial government should be more
specific about where they want forests protected.

"If it's on mineral soil then it's not that significant. Most of the
carbon is stored in the peat land, which is different to mineral
soil," he said.

Peat land locks away large amounts of carbon and clearing and burning
peat forests is a major contributor to greenhouse gas pollution.

Large areas of peat land have been cleared in Kalimantan and Sumatra
and rehabilitation schemes initially focus on reflooding the areas to
stabilize the peat.

Rhett Butler, who runs the U.S.-based conservation website, believed REDD could help save forests but said it could
also lead to land disputes and corruption.

"Indonesia has a lot of problems with corruption and the forestry
sector is one of the worst areas. If money is going into the same
system that was broken before, why would it work now?" he said.

(Editing by David Fogarty)