Saturday, 6 February 2010

Letters: REDD money for locals

Sat, 02/06/2010 1:02 PM | Opinion The Jakarta Post

It is indeed welcome news to see the indigenous people might at last receive some recognition for their traditional ownership of the forests ("Indigenous people get *20 percent' of REDD money", the Post, Jan. 29). They are, after all, the traditional owners of the land that investors and the government of Indonesia is seeking to make money from.

Twenty percent of the revenue is a start, but some might argue that, as the traditional owners, they should be entitled to a much greater share. Compare the 20 percent in Indonesia's Papua province with the traditional owners in neighboring Papua New Guinea - where customary ownership is guaranteed in the constitution of PNG - and so forest owners are entitled to 100 percent of carbon revenues.

More importantly, carbon investment requires guaranteed protection of the forest and that means active protection from the illegal logging, clearing and encroachment so rampant throughout Indonesia.

Rather than just talk in terms of revenue sharing, indigenous people should receive better recognition of their customary rights and be engaged in and rewarded for active management of their forests; they are often best placed and motivated to protect their forest from illegal logging and organized thugs.

If their financial rewards are linked to, and dependent on, effective protection of their forests/carbon/wildlife you can be sure of a win-win solution for the indigenous people, the investors and importantly, the forests.

In Indonesia, local and indigenous people will always be more effective at forest protection than government agencies, so we should recognize the valuable role they can play in protecting the last of the great forests of Indonesia: All the more reason to recognize their customary ownership of these forests.