Thursday, 31 December 2009

Govt urged to quickly solve forest issues

Personal note: REDD money is supposed to be paid by polluting countries and companies to pay for forest protection in countries such as Indonesia. If the past is anything to go by, there is not a hope in hell of any REDD money saving forests in Indonesia. Billions of dollars will be wasted or stolen, trees will still be cut down and the pollution elsewhere will continue.

Adianto P. Simamora , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Wed, 12/30/2009

Indonesia should move faster to resolve contentious issues related to forestry, environmentalists say.

The comment comes after the Copenhagen accord recognized the importance of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) to cap climate emissions.

Among the long-standing issues are forest governance, land ownership, inventory emission data, forest fires and illegal logging.

“The government should not hesitate to take strict action on contentious issues if Indonesia wants to implement the REDD,” former environment minister Sarwono Kusumaatmadja said Tuesday.

The Copenhagen accord recognized the crucial role of the forest in emission reduction through the REDD plus scheme. Developed nations agreed to mobilize financial resources to support the forest countries.

The accord stipulates developed countries will provide US$30 billion for the period between 2010 and 2012, including for forestry.

The idea behind the REDD plus is to award governments, companies and forest owners for maintaining forests.

However, the Copenhagen accord failed to set legally binding targets on emission reduction for developed nations, which many said could make the REDD scheme become ineffective.

Local activists have blasted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his entourage for failing to do much during the conference despite having high hopes.

A legally binding treaty on emission cuts, however, was expected to be agreed in Mexico City next year.

Indonesia, the world’s third largest forestry country, with 120 million hectares, has put high hopes on the REDD to reap more money from climate funding.

Sarwono said that the government needed to focus on improving forest governance once the REDD was implemented in the country.

He said that the government should also convert forest plots with idle permits into conservation areas.

“But, the government must ensure the public that conservation is not anti-economy. Otherwise there will be strong opposition,” he said.

Director of energy and climate change at the WWF Indonesia Fitrian Ardiansyah said that the Forestry Ministry should calculate emissions in forests for a baseline if the country wanted to cut emissions in them.

“We need to know the amount of forest emissions if business is to run as usual,” he said.

Another contentious issue was sharing the financial benefits between the government, local administration and people, and project hosts.

The government earlier warned local authorities to carefully review all carbon brokerage firms offering incentives, such as huge financial benefits from the forestry sector for engaging in carbon trading.

Forestry Ministry official Wandojo Siswanto said many carbon brokers were directly approaching regents and mayors, asking them to sign memorandums of understanding to develop projects under the REDD.

Indonesia was the first country to issue a regulation on the REDD, allowing indigenous people, local authorities, private organizations and businesspeople — both local and foreign — to run REDD projects.

Under the regulation, the REDD project permits will only be granted to those who are certified to control forests.