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Posts Tagged ‘Jago Wadley’

Logging the Moratorium Zone in Indonesia’s REDD+ Pilot Province

Yesterday, EIA and Telapak released a new briefing paper – Caught REDD Handed- exposing illegal deforestation in Indonesia.

In summary, the briefing exposed how, on the very day Indonesia’s president signed a new moratorium on forest exploitation in areas of peatland and primary forest across Indonesia, EIA and Telapak were filming a Malaysian owned plantation company actively clearing about 5,000 hectares of it in the REDD+ Pilot Province, Central Kalimantan. The moratorium was breached on day one – hardly a good sign for what is already a weak moratorium.

Excavator clearing forest in PT Menteng area May 2011

Investing in Criminal Deforestation

Worse still, EIA’s research also reveals that Norway, Indonesia’s biggest REDD+ donor, stands to profit from the illegal deforestation of moratorium land through the $41.5 million of shares the country’s pension fund holds in the Malaysian company Kuala Lumpur Kepong. This is despite both the moratorium and the REDD+ Pilot Province being cornerstones of a US$ 1 billion Letter of Intent (LoI) on REDD+ between the two countries. Jago’s previous blog on the moratorium

The briefing also reveals how this is not Norway’s only investment in deforestation in Indonesia. EIA’s research reveals that during 2010, Norway’s portfolio of logging and plantations investments had increased in value from $437 million to $678 million, with $145 of this increase being profits to Norway from increased share values.

EIA has repeatedly warned Norway that its Pension Fund is in danger of profiting from the violation of the forests of Indonesia, but, it seems, to no avail. Indeed, as the briefing explains, Norway has actually put more money into, and made more money from deforesting industries in Indonesia and its neighbouring countries over the year, than it has granted to Indonesia under the Letter of Intent on REDD+.

Despite the whole idea of REDD+ being to reverse the structure of financial incentives – from those that encourage deforestation to those that encourage forest protection, the case of Norway’s pension fund reveals how the financial incentives in the forestry sector remain perverse.

Log in land cleared by PT Menteng, May 2011

EIA and Telapak have submitted the briefing to the Indonesian and Norwegian authorities, in the hope that both parties might prevent the moratorium being swept aside by realities in crime riddled Central Kalimantan.

While Indonesia needs to deliver on its pledges to clean up crime, corruption and illegal plantations in Central Kalimantan and nationwide, Norway’s finance ministry needs to get its pension fund REDD Ready by divesting from companies that drive the very deforestation Norway is hoping to see reduce in Indonesia.

For further information on the breach of the moratorium, see the following resources:

EIA/Telapak Press Release in Englishand Bahasa Indonesia

Caught REDD Handed Briefing in English& Bahasa Indonesia

EIA interviewed on Radio Australia

News coverage on Reuters & Mongabay, and in REDD Montor

 

Jago Wadley

Senior Campaigner

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In March this year, Indonesia and Norway signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) on REDD+  an ambitious scheme to compensate countries such as Indonesia for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.

Under the agreement, Norway has pledged $ 1 Billion fund –  a mix of REDD preparation activities in Indonesia, such as policy reforms and institutional strengthening, and also to make performance-based payments for measurable and verifiable emissions reductions in Indonesia’s forestry sector.

View of an illegal logging camp on Salawati Island, one of the Raja Ampat Islands, West Papua, Indonesia. Copyright EIA/Telepak

View of an illegal logging camp on Salawati Island, one of the Raja Ampat Islands, West Papua, Indonesia. Copyright EIA/Telepak

A major plank of the phased agreement is a so-called “moratorium” on the issuance of new forest conversion permits over the next two years. The exact text of the LoI states that Indonesia will implement “A two year suspension on all new concessions for conversion of peat and natural forests”.

The suspension, or moratorium, is due to be implemented from January 2011, and is hoped to offer much needed breathing space for forests while the government identifies already “degraded” lands to be used for new plantations instead of forests and peat lands, and generally reforms its forestry and agriculture sectors.

The world is placing its hopes on this initiative, and is watching with much interest and expectation.

However, signs are emerging that Indonesia is seeking to substantially water down the spirit, and the letter, of the moratorium, at least in relation to global expectations.

Not long after having signed the LoI with Norway, Indonesian officials, including the Minster of Forestry, began describing the moratorium as applying to “primary forests”, not “natural forests” as is written in the agreement.

“What is the difference”, I hear you say? A lot.

If a forest has been logged, it is not longer “primary” – despite remaining viable natural forest. If Indonesia  limits the moratorium to cover merely primary forest, lots of natural forest will be permitted for conversion – fundamentally breaking the spirit of the country’s agreement with Norway – and placing the political will of Indonesia to honour its agreements on forests in serious doubt.

A Presidential Instruction, supposed to be issued in October, and which was to legally institute the Moratorium, is still being drafted.

Mixed messages from Indonesian officials on the scope and scale of the moratorium have persisted, with recent news articles suggesting that it may be further weakened.

How much land will be really saved in Indonesia? Copyright EIA/Telepak

How much land will be really saved in Indonesia?

Special interests have generated much argument over the definitions of “degraded lands” and “natural forest” – arguments that threaten to add to the opacity that all too often colours the legal base of forestry and forest governance in Indonesia. One forestry official close to Indonesia’s REDD+ negotiations with Norway (but since arrested for corruption in Forest Ministry procurement deals) has stated thatLots of people want this policy, and the planned moratorium, to fall through, often by using legal arguments against the definition of natural forests”. The same official also implied that none of these definitions will be clarified in any Presidential Instruction that does emerge, further exacerbating policy uncertainty.

In October, The Jakarta Post reported that “the moratorium will not be countrywide but limited to the three provinces … – Papua, Kalimantan and Aceh. It appears agricultural expansion will be allowed in other provinces and outside the designated primary forest and peatland areas in the three key jurisdictions, according to the minister’s comments.”   

More recently still, Hadi Daryanto, the new Director General in the Ministry of Forestry reportedly explained that “the government would only halt conversions of primary forests and peatlands, not the productive forests allocated for businesses.”

Hadi reportedly informed the Jakarta Post that “the government had allocated up to 41 million hectares as so-called special forest areas.”

Hadi Daryanto cites the example of the Medco Group, Indonesia’s biggest oil and gas company, that has aggressively moved in on biofuels sector in anticipation of increased demand in polluting economies such as the US and EU. Medco has been granted 170,000 hectares of industrial timber estates in Merauke, Papua, which it intends to use for wood pellet production. Burning forests for energy is considered to be “carbon neutral” by traders of carbon offsets credits.

The suspension of “all new concessions for conversion of peat and natural forests” is clearly looking unclear – if news reports are accurate. Let’s hope they are not.

 Indonesia always intended to exempt all companies already operating in their concessions from the moritorium. This includes virtually the entire pulp and paper sector, and many of the big  listed palm oil plantations companies.

Did you know palm oil is used every day products including, soap, chocolate, crisps and cosmetics? Copyright EIA/Telepak
Did you know palm oil is used every day products including, soap, chocolate, crisps and cosmetics?

 Effectively, any company that began operations before January 2011 is exempted.

Many analysts, including myself, expect every bulldozer in the country to be fully employed clearing forests over the next two years.

Any further watering down of the moritorium, if as bad as implied in media reports, would be to render it largely ineffective. The world will see what happens.

What's the fate for those who inhabit the forest? Copyright Mark Gudmens

What's the fate for those who inhabit the forest?

Jago Wadley

Senior Campaigner

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Promising Signs of Hope for Papua’s Forests

Recent news from Indonesia on revisions made to the Papua Provincial Spatial Plan, made public this month, gives rise to significant hopes that large areas of Papua’s forests may be saved from conversion to plantations and agricultural estates, at least in the short-to-medium term.

In late 2009, EIA and our Indonesian partners, Telapak, released Up for Grabs, a report and film revealing the massive scale of the threat to Papua’s last frontier forests from large scale plantations and agriculture expansion.

As the report explained, substantially different visions for land use in Papua are in competition.

On one hand, elements in the central government in Jakarta and local elites in key districts in Papua have been facilitating major investment in plantations and agriculture – with dire consequences for millions of hectares of forests and the people and biodiversity dependent on them.

On the other hand, Papua Province’s Governor Suebu, working with progressive elements locally, nationally and internationally, has been seeking a different low-carbon and pro-Papuan path to development that seeks to protect forests from the business-as-usual model that has decimated Indonesia’s forest estate over the past three decades.

This month, Papua’s government finally registered its Provincial Spatial Plan with the central government. The plan defines land use zoning and functions from 2010 – 2030, and must be incorporated into the national spatial plan.

Under the new plan, Papua’s Protected Forest area has been increased by 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres), a massive 44% increase.

More significantly, the area classified as “Conversion Forest” – the focus of big plantations companies – has been decreased by 2.85 million hectares (around 7 million acres), also a 44% decrease.

This is fantastic news, sending a clear signal to supporters of major plantations expansion in Papua that such land is no longer up for grabs. Under Indonesia’s old forest function classifications, a whopping 9 million hectares of Papua’s forests were classified as “Conversion Forest”.Copyright Mark Gudmens

The new plan also decreases the area classified as “Production Forest” (forests allocated for industrial logging) by 4.9 million hectares, or 12 million acres, a huge 60% reduction. Mush of this land is now reclassified as protected forest and as “Limited Production Forest” – placing environmental and social constraints on industrial logging that the Governor and Papuans more widely hope will translate into sustainable community forestry by Papuans themselves.

One significant area of contention these changes have effected is the Merauke Integrated Food & Energy Estate (MIFEE), a controversial central government plan to convert between 1.2 and 1.7 million hectares of Merauke District into mechanised oil palm, sugar, and industrial timber plantations, with finance from China, the Middle East, South Korea, and some of Indonesia’s most aggressive deforesters.

Copyright EIAMIFEE has been widely criticised by Indonesian campaigners, who have highlighted, amongst other issues, the serious environmental, human rights and demographic threats to Papuans from the project. The project was “launched” by the central government before the Merauke government’s Spatial Plan had been agreed. Papua’s new spatial plan now limits the scheme to just 500,000 hectares, theoretically saving at least 700,000 hectares of forest from conversion in just one project area.

How Papua’s new land classifications are respected by central government planners, and those at the district level, is yet to be seen, and the plan must still be agreed by Parliament in Jakarta. However, with Indonesia aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 26%, largely from the forestry and land use sectors, Papua’s revisions offer the country a clear route to achieving these aims. Papua embodies the largest areas of remaining forests and peatland in the entire country – a fact not lost on Governor Suebu, who has repeatedly explained that “the capacity of Papua’s 42 million hectares (104 million acres) of forests to process CO2 is equivalent to the carbon footprint of nearly all the population of Europe”.

Jago Wadley

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Copyright EIA/TelepakOther good news from Indonesia in the past month relates to timber legality and trade. On the 1st September, Indonesia’s SVLK (Timber Legality Verification System) came into force, having been passed by a Minister of Forestry Regulation in 2009 (No P.38/Menhut-II/2009). Telapak have been centrally involved in the development of this standard over the years, with our joint exposes of illegal logging and timber smuggling helping develop the political and commercial space required to enact it.

While the SVLK is mandatory for all timber producers and traders in Indonesia, it is also the basis of a timber licensing system that will be a central plank of a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between Indonesia and the European Union, which is now expected to be signed by the end of this year. VPAs are key elements of the European Commission’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative, the EU’s core policy on illegal logging and trade.

This follows the passage of the European Illegal Timber Regulation in June this year, which will prohibit the placement of illegal timber from countries such as Indonesia on the EU market. The EU law explicitly exempts VPA-licensed timber from the Due Diligence requirements of the regulation, presenting clear incentives for Indonesia and other countries to agree a VPA.

Such developments have been key strategic goals of EIA’s forests campaign, and are testament to the role EIA and Telapak have played in this important issue for over a decade.

But we can’t rest on our laurels.

Next week, EIA and Telapak are organising and hosting a National Indonesian Civil Society Conference on the new legality standard, in Jakarta, where we hope to facilitate the establishment a network of local and national NGOs and community groups to monitor the implementation of the standard – just in case the authorities don’t do so properly themselves.

Why not trust the authorities? One reason is that one of the recently government accredited “auditors” set to certify supply chains for compliance with the legality standard, PT Sucofindo, featured in our latest timber smuggling expose – Rogue Traders – after staff were found to have accepted bribes to allow logs to be smuggled out of the country in containers. Sometime you have to watch the watchmen, and audit the auditors…

Faith Doherty will be updating you on how the conference goes in the not too distant future, so watch this space…

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