Will funding to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and (forest) Degradation (REDD+) stop conversion of peat swamps to oil palm in orangutan habitat in Tripa in Aceh, Indonesia?

Tripa is the last remaining peat-swamp forest that harbours a potentially viable Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) sub-population in a formally but not effectively protected area. It appears to be a simple showcase where current efforts to financially support reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) converge with biodiversity and social co-benefits. In practice, however, situation is more complex. REDD+ efforts interact with global palm oil trade and regulatory approaches (the moratorium) to achieve national goals for emissions reduction under umbrella of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMA). To contextualize this debate, we assessed (i) land-use history and formal basis of palm-oil companies’ rights; (ii) carbon (C) stocks, historical emission levels and potential emissions that can be avoided; (iii) economic benefits of land-use options and opportunity costs of avoiding emissions; (iv) biodiversity and environmental services; and (v) alternative options for “high C stock development” and employment generation. Natural forest cover declined (54 % in 1995, 18 % in 2009) while oil palm increased 4–39 %. Aboveground C stocks decreased from 148 Mg ha−1 in 1990 to 61 Mg ha−1 in 2009, leading to average annual emissions of 14.5 Mg (carbon dioxide) CO2e ha−1 year−1. While 41 % of these emissions yield less than American Dollar (USD) 5 of current economic benefits per Mg CO2e emitted and might be compensated by REDD+, nearly all new emissions derive from a breach of existing laws, regulations and voluntary palm-oil standards. Substantial investment in alternative employment is needed, rather than carbon payments per se, to support livelihoods in a low carbon emissions economy.
Authors: Tata, H.L.; van Noordwijk, M.; Ruysschaert, D.; Mulia, R.; Rahayu, S.; Mulyoutami, E.; Widayati, A.; Ekadinata, A.; Zen, R.; Dorsayo, A.; Oktaviani, R.; Dewi, S.
Subjects: emissions, deforestation, degradation, peatlands, oil palms
Publication type: Article
Source: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 19: 693-713
Year: 2014
ISSN: 1381-2386

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