REDD in Indonesia – an update

Indigenous livelihoods threatened by REDD: fishing nets drying in a Papuan village. (Photo: Adriana Sri Adhiati)

DTE 89-90, November 2011

DTE last reported on the development of policy and projects in Indonesia to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in early 2010. At that point, President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono had made an international commitment to limit Indonesia’s carbon emissions, and had announced plans to plant million of hectares of new forests. Indonesia was negotiating a REDD agreement with the World Bank’s Forest Carbon and had issued three pieces of REDD-related legislation. Civil society organisations monitoring REDD developments at national and regional level were seriously concerned about the lack of safeguards for local communities whose forests were being, or might be in future, targeted for REDD.[1]

Eighteen months later, more details of the national REDD (now REDD+[2]) picture have been filled in, official and unofficial REDD projects are moving ahead and more major international funding schemes for REDD in Indonesia are now up and running. But CSO concerns about REDD and the decision-making processes associated with REDD projects and policy persist. As projects move towards the implementation stage, concerns about community rights - particularly the need to protect indigenous communities’ right to give or withhold to free, prior and informed consent to projects affecting them - have become more acute. At the same time, a major policy shift to recognise indigenous peoples’ rights has been announced by the government.

Key dates in the REDD(+) story
May 2010:    Norway-Indonesia Letter Intent on REDD+ is signed 
October 2010:     REDD+ Task Force is set up under Presidential Decree 19/2010 
November 2010:  Draft National REDD+ Strategy prepared 
November 2010: Forestry Ministry sets up a Climate Change Working Group under Ministerial Decree 624/Menhut-II/2010 
May 2011:  Two-year Moratorium signed – Presidential Decree 10/2011
July 2011:   Indonesia indicates major policy shift towards recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights and addressing problems in forest tenure regime 
September 2011:  President SBY announces a new Task Force, to set up a REDD institution by the end of 2012.


The Moratorium and the LoI

A much-anticipated two-year moratorium on clearing primary forests and peatland was signed in May 2011. Presidential instruction No 10/2011 was one of the agreed outcomes of the Letter of Intent (LoI) that Indonesia signed with Norway the previous year as part of a USD 1 billion REDD+ deal. The LoI and a follow-up Joint Concept Note set out a three-phase REDD+ plan. The first preparatory phase includes:

  • setting up a National REDD+ Agency (to be prepared by a REDD+ Task Force) to be fully operational by the end of 2011
  • the 2-year moratorium (originally designed to be effective from January 2011, but delayed till May)
  • setting up an independent Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Institution
  • setting up an interim financing instrument to handle the preparatory phase
  • a National REDD+ Strategy, to be developed into a national action plan, and which “proposes methods for implementing FPIC and equitable benefit-sharing”
  • selecting a pilot province for REDD+.[3]

The second ‘Transformation’ phase of the Indonesian-Norway deal includes national level capacity-building, legal reform, plus at least one full scale province-level pilot project. The Third phase, called ‘Contributions for Verified Performance’ and due to start in 2014 will see the start of Norwegian payments to Indonesia for reducing its emissions in accordance with UNFCCC guidance.[4]

The moratorium itself received a less than luke-warm reception by CSOs because it offers little additional protection to Indonesia’s fast-disappearing forests. This is largely due to the exemptions given to powerful companies who want to continue using carbon-rich forest and peatlands to expand their businesses. Presidential Instruction No 10/2011 lists exemptions from the moratorium as

  • applications that have been already approved in principle by the Ministry of Forestry,
  • the implementation of vital national development (geothermal, oil and natural gas, electricity and land for rice and sugar cane;
  • the extension of existing forest licences and
  • Ecosystem restoration.[5]

According to the government, the moratorium area covers 64 million hectares. However, CSOs point out that only around 45.5 million hectares of primary forests are actually left. Around a quarter of that area is already covered by licences (so cannot be included in the moratorium) and most of the rest is already off-limits to loggers and plantation developers as it has been classified as protection forest. According to their calculations, only around 8.8 million hectares of Indonesia’s primary forests will actually get any additional protection via the moratorium.[6]

One area that appears to be exempted from the moratorium is the area in Merauke allocated for the giant MIFEE project (see separate article). Before the moratorium was issued, Kuntoro Mangkusbroto, a key presidential aid who is also in charge of the REDD+ Task Force, had said the MIFEE area would be reduced to 350,000-500,000 partly due to the presence of carbon-rich peatlands in the region.[7]

Any positive impact of the moratorium announcement was further undercut by the publication of a report by Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Indonesian NGO Telapak. This showed how the moratorium was being breached on its first day by a Malaysian-owned oil palm developer in Central Kalimantan. The report also showed how Norway – promoter of the moratorium - was at the same time investing in the logging and plantations sector, which is closely linked to forest destruction.[8]

It also emerged that forestry ministry permits covering 2.9 million hectares had been issued to companies on the last day of 2010, in what appeared to be a last-minute rush to beat the original moratorium deadline of January 1st 2011.[9] In yet another move that appeared to undermine the aims of the moratorium, President SBY issued Decree 18/2011 in February. This permits underground mining, power plants and other nationally important projects to go ahead in protected forests.[10]

Other REDD+ developments, some related to the Norway LoI, include:

  • the establishment of the National REDD+ Task Force, in October 2010, headed by Kuntoro Mangkusbroto, a formed mining minister, leader of the post tsunami reconstruction agency in Aceh, and now also head of the president’s Special Delivery Unit (UKP4).
  • the setting up in November 2010, of a Climate Change Working Group within the Forestry Ministry to support its representation in the REDD+ Task Force;
  • consultation with NGOs on a Draft National REDD+ Strategy. Inputs from civil society groups (including DTE) called for the strategy to adhere to international human rights standards, to recognise the role of indigenous and local communities in sustaining the forests, to include a strategy on addressing conflicts over land and to include a complaints mechanism so that people can report violations or negative impacts REDD+ and have their problems addressed.[11]
  • more and more REDD+ demonstration activities. As of February 2011, the Ministry of Forestry had approved 16 such projects, and more than 60 were on the waiting list.[12] There is increasing concern about these projects going ahead before safeguards for communities have been agreed. A substantial report by the Jakarta-based NGO HuMa raises particular concerns about the lack of safeguards among bilateral REDD funders.[13]

Among the international REDD schemes that have been moving ahead, is the World Bank-led Forest Carbon Partnership Fund (FCPF) USD 3.6 million deal to prepare Indonesia for REDD+. The FCPF agreement was signed in June 2011 and involves analytical work, capacity-building, consultation and outreach, and regional data collection. The regional focus areas are South Kalimantan, South Sumatra (Musi Rawas), Maluku, Aceh and West Papua. CSOs have been critical of Indonesia’s proposal for FCPF funds, raising concerns about safeguards and the lack of transparency and participation in the consultation processes.[14] A March 2011 study of FCPF projects around the globe, Smoke and Mirrors, confirmed that none of the eight REDD preparation plans (including Indonesia’s) adequately address land rights or acknowledge existing conflicts.[15]


Regional REDD

Although Papua and Aceh governors were the first regional leaders to publicly support REDD for their areas, Kalimantan has been the region of choice for officially sanctioned REDD projects, and at the end of 2010, Central Kalimantan was announced as the pilot REDD province under the Norway REDD deal.[16] Strong opposition to REDD projects in the province has been voiced by local community groups such as Yayasan Petak Danum Kalimantan and ARPAG, the People's Peat Management Alliance, which are highly critical of the carbon-offsetting intentions of countries and agencies involved in financing REDD schemes in the province.[17] The group maintains that local people are capable of managing their forests sustainably and rather then REDD schemes, they need recognition of and respect for their rights to manage their own lands and resources.

Meanwhile in Aceh, another high-profile REDD project, Ulu Masen (developed by the Aceh government and Carbon Conservation, in collaboration with Fauna and Flora International), remains deeply controversial. Recent studies have concluded that the lack of participation by local communities in the project threatens to undermine the project’s aim of cutting CO2 emissions from deforestation. A 2008 survey carried out by the Aceh Indigenous Peoples’ Network, JKMA, found that indigenous communities had never received any information about the Ulu Masen programme and had not been informed about REDD.[18]

A substantial study by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies published in July 2010 reports community fears that the lack of secure land tenure systems will contribute to REDD benefits being captured by the ‘big players’: mining, logging and plantation companies. There was no free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples nor the full, (or even partial) support and involvement of local communities, according to this study. “There is a real danger that the REDD process will repeat the mistakes of past experiments with centralised forest management strategies based on enforcement.”[19]Things do not seem to be improving: a further independent survey carried out in January 2011 and reported in Inside Indonesia, found a “critical lack of access to information and a chronically low level of REDD literacy.”[20]


A ray of hope? Major policy shift on indigenous rights

Signs of a much-needed shift in Indonesia’s forest policy were confirmed in July when  presidential aide Kuntoro Mangkusubroto announced at an international meeting that Indonesia would “recognise, respect and protect Adat rights”. Kuntoro said the government urgently needed to develop one map as the basis for all decision-making to be used by all ministries and government institutions, as well as delineate the legal status of Indonesia’s forest zone “guaranteeing the recognition of Adat customary rights.”[21] He confirmed that only some 12% of the nation’s forests has been legally delineated,[22] He said that all future action on land use should be based on the principle of “recognition, respect and protection of customary Adat rights” and that this recognition should take place before the allocation of state land for other uses. He also clarified that a law passed in 2001 by Indonesia’s highest legislative body – the TAP MPR IX – gives clear legal basis for the reforms.[23]

The dramatic announcement follows other encouraging signs, including an agreement between AMAN and the environment ministry aimed at empowering indigenous peoples.[24] It remains to be seen how serious the government is about translating words into actions, and how this commitment plays out in areas such as Papua, where the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights is particularly severe.

Resources on REDD








[1] DTE 84:1-5

[2] REDD+ includes conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks – with a key aim to support ‘pro-poor’ development. See also box in DTE 88 article

[3] Indonesia-Norway Joint Partnership Concept Note. 12/Mar/2010.

[4] Letter of Intent between the Government of the Kingdom of Norway and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia on “Cooperation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.”

[6] Press Release ‘Empty Promise of the Presidential Instruction regarding the postponement of issuance of new licences, 6/Jun/11 and Briefing Paper. Coalition of Civil Society Organisations for the Rescue of Indonesian Forests and the Global Climate (WALHI, HuMa, Greenpeace, Sawit Watch, JATAM, Debt Watch, BIC).

[7] ‘Indonesia may cancel permits to save forest’, Reuters 19/Aug/2010.

[8] Caught REDD Handed, How Indonesia’s Logging Moratorium was Criminally Compromised on Day One and Norway Will Profit. EIA/Telapak.

[9] Greenpeace data cited in ‘Govt torn between courting business, protecting forests’,The Jakarta Post 02/Jun/11.

[10] ‘Indonesia’s Protected Forests Now Open to Development’, Jakarta Globe 1/Mar/10.

[11] Masukan Jaringan Masyarakat Sipil terhadap Draft 1 Strategi Nasional REDD+, Jakarta, 25 Oktober 2010.

[12] World Bank Readiness Preparation Proposal Assessment Note, February 2011, downloaded from FCPF website

[13] Preliminary Study on the Safeguards Policies of Bilateral Donors to REDD Programs in Indonesia, HuMa 2010.

[14] See DTE 82 and DTE 84 for more background.

[16] ‘Indonesia chooses climate pact pilot province’ Reuters 31/Dec/2010.

[17] See DTE 82, September 2009.

[18] See DTE 84.

[19] Ulu Masen REDD Demonstration Project, Institute for Global Environmental Studies, Lesley McCulloch, July 2010.

[20] ‘Selling the Wind’, by Environmental Justice and Governance Research Lab, Inside Indonesia, 25/Jul/2011

[21] ‘Indonesian Government announces dramatic shift in forest policy; commitment to rights of IPs, communities’. Rights and Resources Initiative, 13/Jul/11,

[22] See DTE 70, August 2006

[23] Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), 13/Jul/11, as above. See also DTE 52 and DTE 57 for background information on the TAP MPR IX.

[24] See DTE 84.