Peat forest in Borneo. All photos by Rhett A. Butler.
Indonesia has selected the first chief of its new REDD+ agency: Heru Prasetyo, an administrator and former private sector management consultant, reports Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s office.
Prasetyo will take up the challenging task of implementing Indonesia’s REDD+ program, which aims to steer the Southeast Asian nation away from business-as-usual management of its fast dwindling forests. The REDD+ program is part of the broader government plan to cut Indonesia’s greenhouse has emissions by at least 26 percent from a projected 2020 baseline. Because more than three-quarters of the country’s emissions result from deforestation, logging, and degradation of peatlands, REDD+ plays a critical role in meeting the climate target.
The REDD+ Agency is tasked with reforming Indonesia’s forestry sector, which has been beset with mismanagement and corruption for decades. On that front, it will be expected to prepare and develop a national REDD+ strategy that includes safeguards to protect against corruption, ensure equitable benefits distribution, and mitigate the risk of social and environmental damage. The body will also be charged with integrating REDD+ into the broader economy, managing REDD+ funds, and coordinating law enforcement related to the program, all in the face of likely opposition from the country’s powerful forestry interests. In short, Prasetyo’s job is no small undertaking.
But Norway, the largest foreign backer of REDD+ in Indonesia, said it believes Prasetyo is up to the challenge.
“Due to his experience, Mr. Prasetyo is well positioned to take decisive action against economic interests—driven by escalating global demand for paper, pulp and palm oil—that are destroying millions of hectares of virgin forests across the vast archipelago,” the Norwegian Ministry of Environment said in a statement.
Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4) and the former chief of the REDD+ Task Force, agreed that the task will be difficult, but potentially transformational for the Indonesian economy.
“Indonesia is ready to implement REDD+,” Kuntoro said in a statement. “The challenge for the new Head is to encourage reform in the direction of cross-sectoral collaboration to address major challenges in reducing Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions to a sustainable economic development paradigm.”
Note: Hansen et al’s data includes all “forest cover” including plantations and natural forests, while MoF data only incorporates change in forest cover within Indonesia’s Forest Estate, a zone managed by MoF. Hansen’s “forest loss” data would thus include replanting of timber and oil palm plantations.
Prasetyo, who is a top deputy in UPK4 and the secretary of the REDD+ Task Force as well as former managing director of Accenture in Indonesia, says the first orders of business are establishing a forest monitoring and clarifying forest ownership.
“This agency aims to further clarify the position and the implementation and utilization of forest ownership,” he said in a statement. “We hope Indonesia will be far better in controlling emissions from land use by preparing and practicing a system capable of measuring and reporting emissions reductions accurately that can be verified. So we can say that we had reduced emissions and are saving our forests and peatlands.”
“It is important and timely for the REDD+ Agency to immediately move forward at full speed for the sake of Indonesia and the whole earth.”
Rainforest in Aceh, Indonesia
Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. Loss of its carbon-dense forests and peatlands has an outsized impact on climate, in some years making the country the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States.
To date, Indonesia’s efforts to rein in deforestation include establishing a nationwide moratorium on new concessions across more than 40 million hectares of forests and peatlands, initiating a process of reform in the forestry sector, and establishing the REDD+ agency. The efforts have been supported by a billion dollar performance-based commitment from the Norwegian government.