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  • Calls for greater momentum on forest initiatives, from REDD+ to ecotourism, at APRS 2018

Calls for greater momentum on forest initiatives, from REDD+ to ecotourism, at APRS 2018

Tribudi Syukur village in Lampung, Indonesia, is seen from above. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR
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Tribudi Syukur village in Lampung, Indonesia, is seen from above. Photo by N. Sujana/CIFOR

Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region on earth, and home to the world’s three largest cities. Yet it also contains 740 million hectares of forests, accounting for 26 percent of the region’s land area and 18 percent of forest cover globally.

More than 450 million people depend on these forests for their livelihoods.

Through the theme “Protecting forests and people, supporting economic growth,” the third Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS) examined how the region’s economic and social development can better integrate with climate change and carbon emissions reduction goals.

Following the first APRS held in Sydney in 2014 and the second in Brunei Darussalam in 2016, this year’s was the largest yet, held in the Javanese cultural center of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. From April 23–25, more than 1,200 representatives from academia, civil society, business, government and research institutions gathered for panels, discussions, workshops and field trips.

Regional leaders formed the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership (APRP) and its biannual Summit to help realize the global goal of ending rainforest loss by 2030, as well as reduce poverty through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), carbon emissions through REDD+, and climate change through the Paris Agreement – as discussed in the Summit’s first day of high-level panels.

Read also: FTA at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit

“Since the summit in Brunei, I am happy to see substantial progress on REDD+ both regionally and globally,” said Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg in the opening ceremony. “We need to maintain this momentum and step up the pace of change if we are going to protect our forests and our people while securing economic growth.”

As the host country – supported the Australian Government, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) – Indonesia highlighted its recent environmental achievements.

“In the last three years, we have managed to reduce the [annual] deforestation rate from 1.09 million hectares to 610,000 hectares, and 480,000 million hectares in 2017,” said Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya.

“We realize that forests are a major contributor to carbon emissions, mainly due to forest fires – especially in peatlands. Forests represent 18% of our national emissions reduction targets and are expected to contribute to over half of our [Paris Agreement] targets.”

CIFOR’s Daniel Murdiyarso speaks during a session on restoration and sustainable management of peatlands at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit 2018. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Minister Nurbaya also pointed to community and social forestry as a major theme of the Summit. Indonesia has set a target to allocate some 12.7 million hectares of land for use by communities partaking in five social forestry schemes. Nurbaya said she hopes other countries are similarly prioritizing community-based forestry management.

Community forestry was one of the sub-themes highlighted in the second day’s expert panels, alongside restoration and sustainable management of peatlands, mangroves and blue carbon, ecotourism and conservation of biodiversity, production forests, and forest finance, investment and trade. Issues in focus are detailed below.


Speakers throughout the Summit echoed the need for increased private-sector support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – and policies that help enable this.

Companies need more incentives – and assurance of profitability – if they are to balance their business activities with ecological protection and support to local communities. Similarly, there needs to be proof of returns in order to increase private investment in environmental efforts.

The commitment of USD 500 million by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was highlighted as a best-practice example. Announced in May 2017, the pledge is now being used to back select business proposals that creatively address climate change.

Juan Chang, a GCF senior specialist in forest and land use and panel speaker at the Summit, said the Fund’s forestry and land use portfolio of 10 funded projects around the world so far includes 2 REDD+ projects.

Within GCF’s portfolio as a whole, around a third of its USD 3.7 billion goes to projects in the Asia-Pacific region.


This year’s APRS comes roughly a decade after the UNFCCC COP13 in Bali gave birth to REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), an initiative that – much as its name says – seeks to lower global carbon emissions by preserving tropical forests.

As its goals broadened to give more attention to sustainable forest management and carbon stocks, REDD became REDD+, which now has numerous development and research projects running throughout the region.

Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry, HE Siti Nurbaya, opens the 3rd Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit. Photo by U. Ifansasti/CIFOR

Around 2 billion hectares of Asia-Pacific forests are degraded, and research experts expressed that production forests – such as those used for bioenergy – hold new opportunities for REDD+ implementation.

Contrasting this, however, was the difficulty some countries’ delegates said they’re facing in setting the many pieces in place required to uphold such a detailed effort as REDD+.

While Indonesia and Papua New Guinea now have much of the REDD+ architecture up and running, both countries have met roadblocks in implementing emissions measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems as well as results-based payments mechanisms.

Emma Rachmawaty, Director of Climate Change at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said, “We are in the process of establishing a financial institution to manage financing for REDD+. [Until then] we cannot implement results-based payments for REDD+.”

Danae Maniatis from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) analogized REDD+ framework construction with that of a building.

“Pillars for REDD+ need to be really strong at the readiness phase,” she said. “If you have a house that has a roof but nothing else, would you use it? No. You need it to be functional. So, the challenge that we face is: how do you take these elements and make them functional?”

Read also: Social forestry impacts local livelihoods in Indonesia


Mangroves and blue carbon – carbon captured and stored in oceans and coastal areas – have been hot topics of late.

“There is one ecosystem that has been close to my heart for a long time, that encompasses all the issues you can think of for forests: peatlands and mangroves,” said CIFOR Director General Dr. Robert Nasi.

“Although they represent a small percentage of forests, they are probably the richest and most carbon-rich ecosystems in the world – and the most threatened. I can only encourage and commend Indonesia for all the efforts they’re doing in terms of restoring and rehabilitating peatlands and mangroves.”

Comparatively little research has been done on these ecosystems so far. But the vast carbon sinks of Indonesia’s mangroves – the largest in the world, spanning 3.5 million hectares – have begun to make their way onto the archipelago’s national agenda, potentially contributing to the country’s commitments to the Paris Agreement and becoming grounds for financial support to local communities through payment for ecosystem services (PES).

Another way to link local communities to financial institutions and global markets? Ecotourism – responsible recreational activities that encourage conservation and preserve biodiversity.

Panelists called for philanthropic foundations and development organizations to give this growing sector more attention. In the realm of sustainable development business ventures, ecotourism is an on-the-ground way to aid land rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation while still turning a profit – however small that profit may be.

This echoed Dr. Nasi’s opening ceremony statement that the Asia-Pacific region is “a region of superlatives and a region of many contrasts,” with a vast array of businesses, landscapes, socioeconomic levels and governments.

Yet, everyone attending the summit “comes together for one reason: because forests matter.”

By Nabiha Shahab, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • How the Asia-Pacific is developing systems for measurement, reporting and verification

How the Asia-Pacific is developing systems for measurement, reporting and verification

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Photo: Muhammad Nadzrin Abdullah/CIFOR
Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park, Brunei Darussalam, is one example of the valuable natural heritage of the Asia-Pacific region. Photo by Muhammad Nadzrin Abdullah

By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News

Asia-Pacific nations are some of the world’s most vulnerable to the effects of global climate change. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events and impacts on food security threaten the densely populated and rapidly developing nations throughout the region.

However, this region also holds some of the world’s greatest potential for climate change mitigation through the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, plus the conservation and sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks – what’s known as REDD+.

Now that the Paris Agreement has affirmed a role in the global climate change agenda for REDD+, a major challenge moving forward is finding accurate and transparent methods for the measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of the contribution of forests to reducing global emissions.

Regional leaders had the opportunity to share experiences in designing systems for MRV at the 2016 Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit (APRS) held from 3-4 August in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.

At a session titled ‘Keeping track of forests: systems for measurement, reporting and verification’, speakers had the chance to compare notes from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia on developing national systems for MRV.


Papua New Guinea is a global pioneer of REDD+, having introduced the concept together with Costa Rica at COP 11 in 2011. Home to the world’s third largest area of tropical rainforest after the Amazon and the Congo Basin, the country holds huge potential for REDD+.

This year, Papua New Guinea launched a public web portal to disseminate information on its national forest monitoring system.

Alfred Rungol, Acting Manager of MRV at Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change Development Authority, said he hoped the portal would bring greater transparency and better results for the country’s REDD+ processes.

“The establishment of a national forest monitoring system is a key element of REDD+,” he said in his presentation. “PNG needs to improve understanding of its forest and monitoring capacity for sustainable management and conservation.”

Indonesia, another early adopter of MRV systems in the region, has set up a detailed MRV system that generates information on past, present and future greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land-based activities under the Indonesian National Carbon Accounting System, or INCAS.

Haruni Krisnawati is one of the leading technical developers of INCAS, and a senior researcher in the Research, Development and Innovation Agency within the Indonesian Government Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

She shared Indonesia’s experience, calling the development of INCAS an important first step toward reaching the country’s ambitious targets on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions.

As Haruni explained in her presentation, INCAS is designed as a ‘tier 3’ GHG accounting system, meaning that it aims to implement the most sophisticated method outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2006 guidelines.

This means that it is “scalable and uses the best available data,” she explained, including data on country-specific technology-based emission factors.


Meanwhile, other nations in the Asia-Pacific are facing steeper challenges in introducing national systems for MRV.

Samuela Lagataki, Permanent Secretary of Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, said that his country faced serious challenges in accessing baseline data, coming up with measures and using datasets.

“We have found significant gaps due to a lack of capacity,” he said.

But help is at hand for Fiji and other nations in the region trying to navigate the complex procedure of establishing an MRV system.

The Australia-based Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) has designed an application called REDDcompass, launched in April this year, which aims to guide users through the process of designing an MRV systems tailored to a specific nation’s needs.

On the second day of the Summit, Carly Green, Methods and Guidance Component Manager at GFOI, gave a live demonstration of REDDcompass, taking regional leaders through the process of “climbing the MRV mountain”, starting from the base of institutional arrangement and policy decisions, moving upward to measurement and estimation, and finally reaching the stage of reporting and verification.

GFOI is now working with consultants in Lao PDR to develop a REDD+ framework in that country. It’s hoped that the REDDcompass application can help to assess progress so far and identify priorities for moving forward.

“More countries are using freely available data. But there’s still a need to understand what’s going on within those pixels,” Green said.

“REDDcompass basically takes the guesswork out of what you have to do.”

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

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  • View from the Pacific: ‘Climate change is real’

View from the Pacific: ‘Climate change is real’

Malinau, East Kalimantan - Indonesia, 2008. ©Center For International Forestry Research/Douglas Sheil
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Asia Pacific – Pacific island leaders expressed their concerns about climate change in the region at the 2016 Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit, held from 3-5 August in Brunei Darussalam.

Government representatives from Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu spoke about the dangers of rising sea levels and extreme weather events for Pacific island nations, and urged the region to take action by conserving forests for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Leaders also pledged their commitment to conserving forests for better local resilience to climate change, among other benefits.

“Forests will continue to play a vital role in many countries within the Asia-Pacific region in contributing to national economic development, food security, employment and in supporting livelihoods in rural areas,” said Osea Naiqamu, Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries and Forests.

“Climate change is real for Fiji. Not only for Fiji, but for small islands states like Kiribati, Tuvalu, all those other small island states in the Pacific,” he added.

Hear more from Pacific island leaders in the video below:


This topic was featured at the
Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit
3-5 August 2016
See event details here


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Source: Forests News English

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