Tue, 06/02/2009 The Jakarta Post
I refer to an article titled "RI could harvest $15 billion financial incentives annually from REDD: expert", (The Jakarta Post, May 29).
A key element in any such financial arrangement would be the need to trust the government to keep its word. Up to now, its record has been rather less than shameful.
In 1995 take, for example, the Kinshasa Declaration for Great Apes, which Indonesia signed. The government agreed to protect orangutans and their habitat. Since then it has done exactly the opposite.
As I write this letter I am about 50 miles from a forest of some 1100 hectares, currently being logged, inhabited as it is by at least 200 orangutans - all of which will be systematically killed; incidentally it is illegal to kill even one orangutan. So, signing the Kinshasa Declaration was nothing more than a public relations stunt that has turned into a PR disaster.
More recently, President Yudhoyono proclaimed great applause at the climate talks in Bali, December 2007.
"The fate of the orangutan is a subject that goes to the heart of sustainable forests. To save the orangutan we have to save the forest," he said.
Time to remind him that 200 orangutans will be slaughtered in just one forest this year, despite it being illegal to kill even one, and the exact opposite of what the President told the world his government would do.
Making matters worse, the Ministry of Forestry, who should be protecting orangutans, sold the logging license which will see these two hundred killed in the next seven months. Shame on them. So, you see, when it comes to telling foreigners clutching fistfuls of dollars what they want to hear, this government simply cannot be trusted. And it comes at a price - their loss of personal integrity. Now no one ever believes a word they say about protecting the environment.
If REDD money is sent to Indonesia, as we can see, if history is anything to go by the forests will not benefit, only the government and the consultants pushing REDD so hard, will see the money. And definitely not the local villagers. Any doubters need only look at the government's track record to date.