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Down to Earth No.79, November 2008

The pressure for REDD

International pressure to get pilot schemes for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) up and running between now and the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 could mean that crucial issues - including land and resource rights in forests - are sidestepped.

Why the pressure for REDD? Land use change and forestry are estimated to account for around 20% of annual carbon emissions, second only to the energy sector. Many governments negotiating on climate change view REDD as a relatively low-cost way of reducing global emissions and want it included in a new deal to be agreed at the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009. The last climate summit (UNFCCC Cop 13) in Bali, December 2007, gave the green light for REDD to be included in the Copenhagen deal, which will come into force in 2012 once the current Kyoto period expires.

Since Bali, debates over deforestation, carbon markets, financing, control, rights and resources have been intensifying around key concerns including:

Defining REDD

It is crucial that all people involved in REDD negotiations, strategies and projects agree on, and have a clear understanding of what the terms used in REDD debates and planning mean.

One major difference, for example, between the Indonesian definition of 'forest' (as used in the 1999 forestry) and the definition used by the UNFCCC is that the former does not include tree plantations and the latter does. Including plantations in areas eligible for REDD could lead to big business being rewarded for efforts to protect carbon stocks in plantations, on former forested land taken without consent from indigenous customary rights-holders.

Indonesia's legal definition of forest:
"Forest means a unit of ecosystem in the form of lands comprising biological resources, dominated by trees in their natural forms and environment, which can not be separated each other." See, for example draft REDD regulation at

Definition of forest, as used by the Clean Development Mechanism of the UNFCCC:
"Forest" is a minimum area of land of 0.05-1.0 hectares with tree crown cover (or equivalent stocking level) of more than 10-30 per cent with trees with the potential to reach a minimum height of 2-5 metres at maturity in situ. A forest may consist either of closed forest formations where trees of various storeys and undergrowth cover a high proportion of the ground or open forest. Young natural stands and all plantations which have yet to reach a crown density of 10-30 per cent or tree height of 2-5 metres are included under forest, as are areas normally forming part of the forest area which are temporarily unstocked as a result of human intervention such as harvesting or natural causes but which are expected to revert to forest. (See Forest (A/R - SSC A/R)

UNFCCC definition of deforestation:
The direct human-induced conversion of forested land to non-forested land. (See

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) definition of deforestation:
FAO says that deforestation means the conversion of forest to another land use or the long-term reduction of the tree canopy cover below the minimum 10 percent threshold. It can be human or natural. FAO adds that temporary removal of forest cover, for timber harvesting, for example, does not count as deforestation.

Definitions of forest degradation:
The FAO defines this as "Changes within the forest which negatively affect the structure or function of the stand or site, and thereby lower the capacity to supply products and/or services."

Indonesia's REDD-I summary report notes that "a large number of definitions for degradation have been proposed and need to be standardized." (See:REDDI Strategy and Methodologies Process: Summary for Policy Makers, from

See also For further discussion 'What is a forest?'

REDD developments and debates in Indonesia

These issues have emerged in the ongoing debates about REDD in Indonesia, with many local civil society organisations (CSOs) remaining sceptical as to whether REDD can be implemented in just and equitable ways. There is widespread suspicion that industrialised countries want to use REDD to let their own polluting industries buy their way out of responsibility for climate change. CSOs are also concerned that the profit motive will dominate carbon trading and that focusing on the carbon value of forests, ignores the many other functions of forests - such as livelihood provision for forest-dwellers, flood and landslide prevention and biodiversity protection - which should be valued too.

As the world's highest national emitter greenhouse gases from forests and peatlands, Indonesia is under immense pressure to act and has assured the international community that it is ready and willing. Recent government statements indicating a commitment to reduce forest-related carbon emissions include:

Initiatives across Indonesia

This information is mainly drawn from a report prepared for Rainforest Foundation Norway, by Patrick Anderson and Torry Kuswardono, September 2008.

Central Kalimantan: A REDD pilot project is aimed at rehabilitating damaged peat forests on the site of the million hectare rice megaproject launched in the Suharto era. Approval of a master plan for central Kalimantan peatlands is expected by end of the 2008. JP Morgan Stanley is said to be interested in investing in this scheme.

West Kalimantan: Fauna and Flora International is developing proposals for REDD pilot projects in Kapuas Hulu and Ketapang districts, with Macquarie Bank, Australia, aiming to stop deep peat forest conversion currently zoned as non-forest land or conversion forest. FFI is also planning to develop a 'community carbon pool' together with local CSOs, based on customary-owned forests in West Kalimantan. The idea is that joint management of numerous fragments of forest, which would be too costly on an individual community basis, could bring REDD benefits to communities.

Aceh: Ulu Masen (see also DTE 76-77). This REDD project involves FFI, the Aceh government, Australian company Carbon Conservation and US bank, Merrill Lynch. The project seeks to reduce a baseline deforestation rate of 9,500 hectares per year by 85%, achieving emissions reductions of up to 1 million tonnes of CO2 per year. In July, an MoU on sales and marketing was signed by the Aceh government and Carbon Conservation. The project is striving to minimise conflict by involving customary leaders in land use planning and in developing a multi-stakeholder management structure. Areas currently zoned for logging will be reclassified as permanent protection forests and community-managed low-impact, limited production forest areas. However, there is no clarity on who will fund the whole project and governance systems for the project remain in the preliminary stage. The project has attracted some criticism due to lack of transparency and the rushed process leading up to the MoU.

A REDD project is being developed in the Leuser Ecosystem in southern Aceh, with a draft agreement signed by the Aceh government and Sustainable Forest Management South East Asia Ltd, to establish companies to operate environmental businesses in Leuser, including carbon trading.

Riau: The giant pulp conglomerate Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) has prepared a plan to manage the Kampar Peninsular by establishing a core protected forest area surrounded by a ring of 200,000 hectares of pulpwood plantations. There is scepticism about whether the planned project would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and RAPP has a poor reputation on social and environmental issues. Critical NGOs are hoping that the new Governor in Riau, who takes up office in November, will continue the current governor's support for a moratorium on logging and forest conversion.

Papua: Papua is planning to restructure its forestry sector, by reducing the number of industrial logging permits, recalculating forest resources, adjusting wood industry capacity to match existing forest resources and banning log exports. It also plans to assist communities to become involved in sustainable forest management and wood processing industries, to reduce the area of forest allocated for plantations from 5 million ha to 2 million ha, deploy trained forest rangers, and develop a system of payments for environmental services, including maintaining forest carbon and reducing greenhouse has emissions.

A pilot REDD project has been developed in the Cyclops Mountains near Jayapura, - the project with FFI has been waiting for a year for national forestry department approval.

Two companies, Emerald Planet and New Forest, have been contracted to develop REDD projects for Timika and Mamberamo.

At the provincial level in Papua a working group of NGOs, community representatives and government - called the Pokja Sembilan - has been set up to discuss, develop and socialise the REDD programme and pilots. Key issues identified by the group include creating a legal basis for REDD, clarifying land tenure and carbon tenure issues and conducting a risk analysis of REDD options from community and government perspectives.

Huge obstacles

There are huge obstacles to achieving a quick reversal of deforestation in Indonesia. Despite recent announcements on reducing emissions, the government itself is pushing ahead with policies which undermine forest protection on a massive scale.

These include ambitious targets that pave the way for corporations to convert millions of hectares of forests into oil palm, pulpwood and other plantations, which will lead to the release of millions of additional tonnes of greenhouse gases. They also include permitting mining in protection forests - see separate article on BHP-Billiton on Gag Island, West Papua.

CSOs in Indonesia have long called for the influence of big business over Indonesia's natural resources to be reduced, so that more equitable ways of managing resources, which benefit more than just a small business elite, can be developed. WALHI (FoE Indonesia) has repeatedly called for a national logging moratorium, while Sawit Watch has demanded a stop to the planned massive expansion of oil palm taking place on Sumatra, Kalimantan, and, most recently, in Papua (see also DTE 75).

An international Greenpeace campaign calling for a halt to forest conversion for oil palm highlighted the climate impacts of converting peatland in Riau. The campaign bore fruit in May when global food giant Unilever supported the call for a moratorium on the destruction of rainforests to make way for palm oil plantations. It publicly committed to buy all of its palm oil from certified sustainable sources by 2015.6

The Indonesian business backlash followed soon after. In August, Indonesia's 250-member palm oil producers association (GAPKI) said they opposed any such moratorium, as this would slow the economy, cause job losses and poverty. "If we stop expanding our business, many rich nations will be happy because then they don't need to take action to tackle global warming..." said GAPKI executive Derom Bangun. He also claimed that GAPKI members had stopped converting 'virgin' forest and high conservation value forests since 2005 - a claim that many CSOs would dispute.

Expanding emissions - a compilation

In 2006, Southeast Asia's CO2 emissions from forest destruction and peat soil oxidation were estimated at around 2 billion tonnes per year by Wetlands International, with 90% of this originating from Indonesia.7

ICFA predicts that under the 'business as usual' scenario, future CO2 emissions from Indonesian peatlands could be around 2000 Mt/year (ie more than a 3rd of global annual forestry-sector emissions).8

Global emissions from deforestation during the 1990s were estimated at 5.8 Gigatonnes of per year.9

Predictions under a 'Business As Usual' scenario indicate the loss of all non-swamp forest in Sumatra and Kalimatan by 2010.10

The ICFA studies found that around 70% of oil palm plantations (based on an estimated total of 6 million ha in 2006) have been developed in convertible forest, which has resulted in above ground emissions alone of around 2.1 billion tonnes of CO2 between 1982-2005. It also found that oil palm is being increasingly planted on peat soils which store around 60kg carbon per square metre.

The ICFA puts predicted expansion of oil palm at 5-6 million hectares by 2020 with 5.5 million ha allocated in Kalimantan alone of which 1.7 million ha is forested and close to 1 million ha is peat land. If all this land was cleared and converted for oil palm, up to 918 MtCO2 could be released from loss of above-ground biomass alone.11

A report prepared for the Rainforest Foundation Norway estimates that an additional 20 million hectares of oil palm and 10 million hectares of pulpwood plantations are planned, with the majority of these planned for forest areas.12

The report states that around half of Indonesia's 22 million hectares of peat forest has been drained for logging, a third has been cleared for agriculture, plus, almost half of the remaining peat forests are classified as conversion forests. Permits have been issued to convert around 4 million hectares of peat forests for pulpwood and oil palm plantations in Riau, Central Kalimantan, Jambi, Papua and West Papua. "If these forests are cleared and drained, annual CO2 emissions will increase by another billion tonnes and continue at that level for decades."13

Clearing natural forests for pulpwood plantations has led to significant loss of carbon. Tree plantations do store CO2, but not as much as natural forests. The government has allowed pulp and paper companies to clear natural forests and use the wood (mixed tropical hardwood- MTH) at low cost, while failing to ensure that replacement pulpwood plantations are sufficiently developed.14

Forest cover loss in protected areas between 2000 and 2005 was 127,481 hectares, resulting in around 93 Mt of carbon dioxide emissions.15

Rights and Resources - fundamental need for reform remains the same How will forest-dependent communities and civil society organisations concerned with poverty reduction and human rights, view REDD in Indonesia in, say, ten years' time? This will depend on whether it has been able to act as a catalyst for positive reform, or whether it has merely reinforced the prevailing current national government approaches to forest management, even if it has managed to somehow slow down the rate of carbon emissions.

An international forum of Global Forests Leaders at the World Bank in Washington, spelled out what kind of problems need to be tackled to reform the way forests are managed in Indonesia. The statement, 'Beyond REDD', urges a cross-sectoral approach to forests, recognition of forest peoples' rights, appreciation of the multiple values of forests, reformed forest governance and the provision of incentives to avoid deforestation, not just reduce emissions by slowing deforestation.16 Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) said that setting up carbon forests, like creating national parks, protected areas and developing legality standards for timber trading, would be just dealing with the symptoms of deforestation, not the causes.

"In contrast, addressing inequalities in land tenure, discrimination against Indigenous Peoples, corruption, over-consumption and uncontrolled industrialization will tackle the underlying causes of deforestation."17

Nababan said there were examples from all over the world which show that customary forest management is a long term means of safeguarding and ensuring sustainability.

This message has been reinforced by new research, presented at an International conference on rights, forests and climate change in Oslo this October. A study by Jeffrey Hatcher, analyst with the Rights and Resources think-tank in Washington found that it cost around $3.50 per hectare to recognise forest people's land, including the direct costs of demarcating territory, registering land, raising awareness and resolving local disputes.18 This compares to the costs of protecting forests under REDD, estimated as $3,500 per hectare. Hatcher said "There is lots of evidence from around the world that communities conserve their forests when their [land] rights are recognised." He said that around 20-40 Gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of CO2 are conserved in the ca 400 million hectares of forest formally owned by communities. "This means that it costs about $1.6 billion to achieve this conservation. The Eliasch Review suggested it that would cost about nearly $17 billion [a] year to stop deforestation, which works out as far more expensive." 19

REDD and adat rights

As highlighted by AMAN, there is an urgent need to address tenure in Indonesia's forests. The current lack of clarity presents obstacles to any prospective REDD stakeholders that want to avoid violating internationally-recognised indigenous peoples' rights.

One major stumbling block is the lack of clarity over forest ownership. Studies have shown that forestry department control over much of the state forest zone is highly questionable since legal requirements to agree forest boundaries have never been completed.20 Yet the forestry department continues to ignore this and is pushing ahead with REDD planning as if current forest governance systems are adequate.

The forestry department's approach is reflected in the draft regulation on REDD21, which defines hutan adat(customary forests) as state forests which fall within 'the areas of people governed by customary law'. It goes on to list adat forests as eligible for carrying out REDD, but the conditions to do this make this legally and practically extremely difficult. The obstacles include the requirement for the community to be adat forest licence holders. To get this, they must have official document stating they have adat forest management rights, plus a recommendation from the regional government; their location must fulfil the right criteria for REDD and they must draw up a REDD implementation plan (prepared both in English and in Indonesian). Only then can they submit their application for the forestry minister's approval.

However, all of the above conditions hinge on yet another, more important requirement. Before communities can get legal recognition of their right over adat forests, a whole new ministerial regulation on how to do this needs to be issued. A regulation on adat forest has been pending since 1999, when the current forestry law was passed. It has got stuck, partly because of the lack of political will on the part of the forestry department to finalise this, and partly due to opposition from indigenous peoples, who don't want adat forests to be a sub-category of state forests, and want to see the forestry law itself changed.

This effectively means that indigenous communities who want to participate in REDD projects based on their adat rights are ruled out of REDD until the new regulation is issued.

One alternative route offered to indigenous communities is through local regulations (Perda) issued under regional autonomy rules. In some districts, these have been successful in circumventing the rigid national system. In Aceh and Papua, province-level regulations on customary rights which can be issued under special autonomy legislation offer scope for indigenous rights recognition too, but currently remain mostly in draft form.

The ICFA's REDDI summary is very weak on rights recognition, while hinting that there does need to be clarification. The study identifies a need for the Ministry of Forestry to 'settle outstanding community claims to land and forest resources'. It also states that pilot activities need to clarify roles and responsibilities for REDD implementation, including the key issues of who has the right to sell carbon (local communities, licensees, forest management units, local government, national government). "Amongst others, this demands action to clarify land tenure and forest management rights". And who has the right to receive payment? "This will depend on stakeholders' rights in forest land and resources."

The only mention of customary rights (and by implication, indigenous peoples) is in a section considering possible criteria for deciding who is a legitimate recipient of revenues. These could include people who "act legally and have right to sell carbon (provided this does not disadvantage the poor and those with customary rights not recognized by the government)".22

How will the forestry department's approach mesh with the UN-REDD's pro-rights approach? According to the UN-REDD framework document23, the programme will be guided by 5 inter-related principles, including gender equality and human rights-based approach to programming, with particular reference to the UN Development Group's guidelines on Indigenous Peoples' Issues.24 Whether these will be explicitly included in the 'quick start' work with Indonesia and other pilot countries remains to be seen.

The UN-REDD framework document does issue the following warning: "If REDD programmes are not carefully designed, they could marginalize the landless and those with informal usufructual rights and communal use-rights."25

A warning that could have been tailor-made for Indonesia.

REDD developments internationally and in Indonesia - a selection
Month International Indonesia
December 07 Bali Action Plan gives green light for REDD to be included in COP 15 agreement, scheduled for November 2009 in Copenhagen World Bank launches its controversial Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF - see DTE 76-77)  
Feb 08   Ulu Masen scheme in Aceh is announced (Fauna and Flora International, Aceh provincial government and Australian company Carbon Conservation (see DTE 76-77).
April 08   Central Kalimantan pilot scheme announced, funded by Australia (see DTE 76-77)
May 08 Indigenous peoples discuss REDD at United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Indonesia indigenous peoples alliance AMAN contributes paper (see DTE 76-77)

At Bonn (CBD COP9) Indonesia supports WWF's call for zero net deforestation by 2020.26

Papua's governor announces scheme with PT Emerald Planet and New Forests Asset Management to assess the potential for forest carbon trading in the region (see DTE 76-77:11).

Unilever supports call for moratorium on converting forests for oil palm plantations.

June 08 Workshop on Methodological Issues relating to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries
25 - 27 June 2008 in Tokyo, Japan Indonesia submission to Tokyo workshop
July 08 World Bank announces 14 countries who will get grants support to build capacity for REDD - the list does not include Indonesia. 27 Indonesia's Forestry Department holds public consultation on draft regulations on implementing REDD and on setting up a national REDD Commission.

Bappenas report 'Indonesia's Response to Climate Change' released.28

Ulu Masen REDD project, Aceh: MoU on sales and marketing signed between Carbon Conservation and Aceh government.

August 08   Indonesian government announces new climate change council, involving 16 cabinet members, chaired by environment minister, to coordinate and monitor the implementation of action plans to fight climate change and manage climate funds.29

Riau Governor announces temporary suspension of deforestation in the province.

GAPKI (Indonesian palm oil producers) reject forest conversion moratorium call.

September 08 AMAN's Secretary General makes keynote speech at Global Forest Leaders Forum, World Bank, Washington, USA, linking non-recognition of indigenous rights to deforestation crisis and calling for rights recognition, FPIC, space for local initiatives and inclusion in decision-making for indigenous peoples.

UN launches its own REDD scheme â€" UN-REDD, some indigenous groups raise concern over lack of protections.30

Indonesia is named among countries which will 'quick-start' efforts with UN-REDD support.
October 08 EU delays linking including forests in EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for at least 10 years â€" move welcomed by indigenous groups and NGOs. 31

Eliasch Review issued in UK.

International conference on rights, forests and climate change in Norway considers REDD developments. One study shows how costs of recognising community rights over forests compares very favourably with cost of protecting forests under REDD schemes. AMAN makes presentation.32

Indonesia's Deputy Environment Minister announces Indonesia will stop converting forests for plantation crops such as palm oil and that plantations will only be developed on 'idle' land (though CSOs have disputed whether any idle land actually exists).33

Greenpeace launches its Forests for Climate (FFC) initiative in Jakarta. The proposal is for an international mechanism to fund sustainable and lasting reductions from emissions from tropical deforestation. It wants an immediate moratorium on deforestation, followed by international funding through UN to protect forests for their carbon value.34

November 08 Global consultation on potential impacts of REDD on indigenous and local communities, Philippines.35  
December 08 COP 14, Poznan, Poland  


The website emerged from discussions between NGO networks in Europe and the South, and the need to share information about the way REDD is developing. It contains country-specific information, as well as on issues such as carbon credits, the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, Indigenous Peoples and NGO statements.

Thanks to Patrick Anderson for his assistance with this report.

1 Paraguay and Indonesia announce forest actions, WWF news centre 8/Oct/08 at On the issue of 'idle land' see 'Agrofuels and the Myth of Marginal Lands, by Gaia Foundation, Biofuelwatch, The African Biodiversity Network, Salva La Selva, Watch Indonesia and EcoNexus, September 2008.

2 The IFCA website is at

3 Jakarta Post 1/Jul/08

4 Report to the Rainforest Foundation Norway on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Indonesia, Patrick Andrerson and Torry Kuswardono, Jakarta, September 2008. This report will be made available on RFN's website, and also translated into Indonesian.


6 Ethical Corporation Newsletter 7/Jul/08

7 Hooijer, A., Silvius, M., Wösten, H. and Page, S. 2006. PEAT-CO2, Assessment of CO2 emissions from drained peatlands in SE Asia. Delft Hydraulics report Q3943

8 REDD-I - Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Indonesia, REDD Methodology and Strategies Summary for Policy Makers, IFCA, MoF [no date]

9 IPCC WG III, 2007

10 Making REDD work for the Poor, Leo Peskett, David Huberman, Evan Bowen-Jones, Guy Edwards and Jessica Brown, September 2008, IUCN et al, at

11 ICFA summary, as in 8, above.

12 Report to the Rainforest Foundation Norway, as in 4 above.

13 Report to the Rainforest Foundation Norway.

14 IFCA summary

15 IFCA summary


17 Abdon Nababan Keynote Speech, Inclusive Climate Change Solutions, Global Forest Leaders Forum, Washington CN 17/Sep/08

18 Reuters 18/Oct/08, via Biofuelwatch Digest No 800. For more on this study see

19 The Guardian 17/Oct/08, Biofuelwatch Digest No 800

20 See for example DTE 70, August 2006,

21 Peratruran Menteri Kehutanan, Tata Cara Pelaksanaan Pengurangan Emisi Dari Deforestasi dan Degradasi Hutan (REDD), 14th July draft,

22 IFCA summary

23 UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD), FAO, UNDP, UNEP, Framework Document 20 June 2008.

24 These guidelines were approved in February this year and can be viewed at:



27 14 countries win REDD funding to protect tropical forests, 24/Jul/08

28 See reference on Bappenas website (although the document itself does not appear to be available online.)

29 Jakarta Post 18/Aug/08

30 See note 23, and 'UN Admits Its Climate Change Program Could Threaten Indigenous Peoples', Earth Peoples, Sept 27, 2008.

31 Commission derives credit for keeping forest out of the carbon market. FERN and Global Witness Press Release, 17/Oct/08


33 See note 1, above.

34 Greenpeace showcases the solution to Indonesia's rapid forest destruction and rising carbon emissions 31/Oct/08,


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