December 01, 2009
Fidelis E Satriastanti The Jakarta Globe
Indonesian Environment Groups Say REDD Project Misses Point
Environmental nongovernmental organizations released a report on Monday accusing Australia of using a bilateral forestry project in Kalimantan to avoid reducing emissions at home while ignoring the welfare of indigenous peoples here.
The report “What a Scam — Australia’s REDD Offsets for Copenhagen,” from the Friends of the Earth Australia, the Indonesian Peasants Union (API) and the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said the project was only focused on gaining carbon credits from Indonesian forests that Australia would use to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.
The Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnerships project, a cooperation between AusAID and the Ministry of Forestry, is a pilot project that aims to demonstrate how the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries program (REDD) can contribute to global efforts to mitigate climate change.
The project, for which Australia will provide 40 million Australian dollars ($36.6 million), started in 2008 and aims to reforest at least 100,000 hectares of degraded peatland in Central Kalimantan over five years.
“It is actually a way for the Australian government to justify relying on REDD to reduce their own emissions,” said Teguh Surya, the head of advocacy for Walhi. “At the same time, Indonesia’s government has consciously agreed to become Australia’s carbon trash bin.”
He added that the project violated the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples because it failed to acknowledge indigenous people living in the project area.
Elisha Kartini, an API researcher, said farmers and indigenous people do not oppose efforts to preserve nature and protect forests because their livelihoods depended on the health and sustainability of forests .
“It is the obligation of all countries, including Indonesia, to reduce their emissions and turn to low-carbon growth development,” Elisha said.
She added that Australia needed to do the work of emissions reduction domestically instead of simply buying carbon credits from Indonesia.
“If Indonesia continues to take part in these kinds of mechanisms, then it would indicate that the government has no commitment to deal with climate change issue,” she said.
Elisha added that in practice, the REDD program had only marginalized people and hampered their control over their own lands.