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  • Bioenergy development in Central Kalimantan: Current research findings and potential areas for future study

Bioenergy development in Central Kalimantan: Current research findings and potential areas for future study

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  • Stable, robust policies and governmental support at both national and local levels, are needed to promote successful bioenergy research and its application, and avoid repeating past failures in developing bioenergy crops. The potential of local tree species should be considered in bioenergy project development; in particular, consideration should be given to the ability of each species to adapt to typical environments such as highly acidic peatlands, nutrient-poor soils and soils with high levels of organic matter.
  • The participation of local communities is of paramount importance, as well as the consideration of local preferences and context; by introducing community-relevant species, familiarity with such species and their potential uses is also increased.
  • Further study is necessary on local bioenergy species that are suitable for peatland restoration to answer the following questions: What concrete actions would allow a provincial government-driven working group to further develop sustainable bioenergy within Central Kalimantan? What would an appropriate business model for bioenergy production look like? and which agroforestry systems have the potential to combine bioenergy crops with other-purpose crops (e.g. food, aromatics and medicines).
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  • Emergent dynamics of migration and their potential effects on forest and land use in North Kalimantan, Indonesia

Emergent dynamics of migration and their potential effects on forest and land use in North Kalimantan, Indonesia

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  • Hanging in the balance: Preservation, restoration and sustainable management in Indonesian peatlands

Hanging in the balance: Preservation, restoration and sustainable management in Indonesian peatlands

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A boat travels along a river in Kalimantan during the 2015 fire and haze crisis. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

The protection of peatland ecosystems, which store “disproportionate” amounts of carbon, is vital to achieving Indonesia’s emission reduction targets and climate goals.

The need to protect remaining peatlands while restoring degraded lands resounded throughout the Tropical Peatlands Exchange, held at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) headquarters on Aug. 8, 2018.

Peatland ecosystems are critical for biodiversity, ecosystem services, water regulation and pollution control, in addition to their “disproportionate importance in terms of carbon storage,” said CIFOR Director General Robert Nasi. Because of this, peat swamps, along with mangroves, have the greatest potentials of any ecosystems to affect greenhouse gas emissions if they are degraded or destroyed.

Though only 3% of the world’s land area is covered by peatlands, these areas hold 30 to 40% of global carbon, a density that underscores their importance and the vested interest in their preservation. With Indonesia being home to some of the world’s largest peatland areas, the country can significantly impact both regional and global environments, markets and livelihoods through its peatland management decisions.

A case in point concerns the 18th Asian Games ongoing this month, for which Indonesia appears to be going to great measures to ensure that host cities Jakarta and Palembang will not be marred by haze from the country’s perennial forest and land fires. With new and concerted efforts to avoid anything akin to a repeat of the country’s catastrophic fire period in 2015, the coming weeks will put fire prevention and mitigation strategies – many focused on peatlands – to the test.

Watch: Peatlands and ecosystem services

CIFOR Principal Scientist Daniel Murdiyarso speaks at the event. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR


The event aimed to provide recommendations and data to support Indonesia’s policies and goals related to its peatland ecosystems. The country’s nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement targets a 29% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, or 41% if provided with external assistance, which some have described as ambitious.

The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Climate Change Mitigation Director Emma Rachmawaty said that Indonesia’s NDCs could be achieved by implementing mitigation actions across four areas – reducing deforestation; reducing degradation; rehabilitation of forest and land; and peatland restoration. If all stakeholders complied with existing government regulations, Rachmawaty posited, the country could be confident about achieving its targets by 2030.

Several speakers recalled the forest fires of 2015 – an El Niño year – which caused haze that blew across a number of Indonesian provinces as well as Singapore and Malaysia, prompting a global conversation on the effect of peatland fires on human health, economies and the environment. Because peatlands are not specifically accounted for in carbon budgets, CIFOR Principal Scientist Christopher Martius said, “climate change amplification” could also result from such peat destruction.

In a session on peatlands and climate change, Solichin Manuri, Senior Advisor at consulting firm Daemeter, said that the 2015 events pushed Indonesia to commit to reducing the impact of recurrent peat fires and restoring degraded peatlands, leading to numerous efforts including the release of a new government regulation in 2016. Nevertheless, this takes time, and Manuri stated that almost 40% of emissions from Indonesia’s forestry sector still come from peatlands. This figure excludes emissions from peat fires, which would make peatlands an even more significant emissions source.

Watch: Peatlands and climate change


Panels throughout the day covered topics ranging from policymaking to ecosystem services. Photo by A. Erlangga/CIFOR

Siak district in Riau province, which is home to one of the last large peatland forests on the island of Sumatra, was identified in 2016 as a target area for establishing an exemplar green strategy.

Siak is “a district that encourages sustainability and sustainable principles in the utilization of natural resources and economic empowerment of the community,” said Arif Budiman of Winrock International, affirming a thread that ran throughout the Exchange of the need to balance preservation and restoration with sustainable management approaches.

This involves changing people’s behaviors, said Nyoman Iswarayoga of Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER), which initiates field schools to educate communities to move away from slash-and-burn techniques in areas where this has been the traditional mode of land-clearing.

Such efforts, of course, cost money, and there remains a need to synchronize national plans at regional levels, to help to attract investment. This was addressed in the second plenary of the day, which looked at subnational peatland initiatives, raising the gaps between national mandates and subnational implementation capacity. The speakers called for more ways for Indonesia to take advantage of global agreements that bring in resources that can help the country overcome these hurdles of jurisdiction, among others.

Watch: Peatlands and ecosystem services


Local communities need support to sustainably generate value from peatland resources – and capture this value – CIFOR Scientist Herry Purnomo emphasized during a session on community engagement in peatlands conservation and restoration. However, policies pertinent to this issue remain weak. Communities currently continue to use fire for agriculture in Riau, South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan, showing the need for business models that promote sustainable, peatland-based livelihoods.

“Humans are an integral part of peatland ecosystems, so community engagement in the process of peatland restoration is necessary,” concurred Hesti Lestari Tata, Senior Researcher at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry’s Research, Development and Innovation Agency, while raising the ‘3R approach’ of rewetting, revegetation and community revitalization.

To optimize benefits for locals, peatland restoration and livelihoods must ultimately be combined. In reference to this, Purnomo raised his research in Riau on common peatland commodities, including sweet corn, spinach, pineapple, betel nut, oil palm, coconut and rubber. The results indicated that certain alternative uses of peatlands – barring oil palm plantations – can create sustainable business opportunities for communities.

Concluding the event, CIFOR Principal Scientist Daniel Murdiyarso highlighted stakeholders’ common objectives for emissions reduction targets and peatlands’ role therein. He outlined opportunities for collaboration on peatlands work, highlighting the new global peatlands center expected to be established in Indonesia in the near future.

In the case of the Asian Games, it indeed appears that both governments and the private sector are concerned about the possible effects of peatland fires on the event – as well as about peatland destruction and degradation more broadly.

“We need to provide evidence – science-based evidence – to make proper policy on how to avoid and improve situations like degraded peat,” Murdiyarso said, expressing his hope that the Exchange had provided a platform to improve the communication of scientific progress, inform decision-making processes, and enhance public- and private-sector cooperation. Now, when looking at how Indonesia will meet its emissions reduction targets at a national level, the question is whether a dedicated peatland restoration agenda will be part of it.

Read also: Focus on peatlands and research results

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, 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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  • Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in 'era of SDGs'

Sharing the risk of blue carbon investment in ‘era of SDGs’

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The public and private sectors must join forces to finance blue carbon, in order to reap social, environmental and economic returns from the ecosystems. 

The Blue Carbon Summit on July 16-17 in Jakarta, Indonesia, clarified the importance of learning and disseminating more about coastal ecosystems. During the event, one of the discussion forums honed in on these at-risk ecosystems, looking in particular at the payment mechanisms needed to keep blue carbon intact.

Financing blue carbon development addressed how to best use the available funding; no matter what kind of payments are on offer, the discussion explored why blue carbon should be accounted for among stakeholders.

Medrilzam, Director for Environmental Affairs at Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), highlighted the importance of incorporating blue carbon into efforts to achieve to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), describing the current environment as “the era of SDGs”.

Watch: Financing blue carbon development

SDG 13 on climate action, he said, was the anchor for several other goals, including sustainable cities and communities; life below water; and life on land. Bappenas had never before included blue carbon as an aspect of discussions at national or regional levels, he explained, but is now factoring it in when measuring emission reductions, as Indonesia moves towards its targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) 26% by 2020 and 29% by 2030.

In particular, he highlighted Bappenas’ low carbon development plan, a new development platform aimed at sustaining economic and social growth through low GHG emissions and minimizing the exploitation of natural resources. However, he stressed the need to consider interlinkages, saying that blue carbon related to the economy or the population, and vice versa.

“We cannot just rely on government financing. We know we have limited capacity,” he said, adding that development agencies needed to be imaginative about dealing with emerging forms of innovative finance.

Felia Salim, from the Board of Directors at &Green Fund and Sail Ventures, explained that &Green Fund related to land use, but its model could be replicated for blue carbon by looking at the concept of blended finance.

Mangroves grow along the water’s edge in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“We need to understand, when we talk about finance, that this is really about linking it to the market,” she said. “We are trying to correct the market forces.”

In terms of blended finance, Salim suggested that the conventional financial sector may not yet fully understand how to mitigate risks related to blue carbon, and therefore has a low appetite for them. Thus, it is all about “absorbing some of the risks that cannot be absorbed by the conventional financial sector.”

“This is the blended part. It’s really sharing the risk,” she said. “Basically the public fund is taking up a portion of the risk — that’s the basic principle of blended finance.”

According to Salim, climate risk and strategy must be incorporated into planning, and such strategies should not only account for economic return, but also environmental returns such as the number of hectares of forest that have been conserved, and social inclusion factors such as jobs created or improvements for smallholder suppliers.

“If you don’t involve stakeholders in the area, it won’t be sustainable,” she stressed, adding that companies which had seriously implemented environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk into their strategies have shown to be performing better as a result.

“The social and environmental returns make economic sense,” she said, “because what you want is […] business that is sustainable, that lasts,” reiterating that &Green Fund is trying to finance a gap that the conventional financial sector cannot absorb.

Read also: Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Mangroves and sandbanks protect the shore in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

Ecotourism is another route to preserving nature while also providing incomes, as outlined by Bustar Maitar, Director of Kurabesi Nusantara Indonesia, a social enterprise offering liveaboard diving tours in eastern Indonesia.

Despite hundreds of comparable boats operating in the archipelago, Maitar said only 12 were Indonesian owned, representing a big growth opportunity for Indonesian investment.

Continuing the investment conversation, Fitrian Adriansyah, chairman of the executive board of IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative) Indonesia, discussed how IDH invests in collaboration with the private sector.

“We believe sustainable production and trade can transform markets for the benefit of people and the planet,” he said. There is a need to promote greater understanding between the public and private sectors, he added, which “cannot be done if we cannot bridge the gap in terms of understanding the risk when it comes to investment in blue carbon.”

IDH, which invests in commodities, including aquaculture and mangroves, purports to seek impact rather than financial return. Responding to concerns that aquaculture is seen as an “enemy” of blue carbon efforts, Adriansyah said IDH’s criteria in selecting investment opportunities comprised improved productivity; protecting remaining forests; and the inclusion of villagers, smallholders or the community.

Finally, Muhammad Senang Semibiring, a Senior Advisor to the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (KEHATI), outlined private financing through a community-based coastal carbon corridor initiative. KEHATI, the first and largest biodiversity conservation trust fund in Indonesia, was begun 25 years ago and makes use of public-private partnerships toward the achievement of SDG 17.

By investing in natural solutions, many elements of coastal areas can be protected. There can be economic benefits in doing so, including for the lives of community members. In identifying the challenges facing the financing of blue carbon initiatives, stakeholders can assess these returns and – as evidenced by the discussions at the Blue Carbon Summit – achieve social and economic benefits as well as environmental advantages.

Read also: Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 

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  • The potential of REDD+ to finance forestry sector in Vietnam

The potential of REDD+ to finance forestry sector in Vietnam

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  • Despite the great potential REDD+ shows for generating and contributing finance to support forestry in Vietnam, a reduction in both funds and funder commitment to REDD+, challenges in meeting funder requirements, and the significant finance required to implement the national REDD+ program in Vietnam, all imply that in reality REDD+’s contribution as a major financial source for the forestry sector is limited.
  • Although the government has identified various public and private funding sources to cover the different phases of REDD+, the international public sector remains the primary funding source; limited contributions come from the private sector and state.
  • To date the spending of REDD+ finance has been uncoordinated and fragmented, due to a lack of clarity on what Vietnam’s REDD+ priorities are.
  • Effective and efficient implementation of REDD+ activities in Vietnam is being impeded by: limited and inaccurate data regarding REDD+ finance in Vietnam; an unclear definition of what REDD+ finance is; the absence of a national REDD+ financial tracking system; and limited technical capacity (within both government and civil society organizations) when it comes to monitoring REDD+ finance.
  • To increase the potential for REDD+ to financially contribute to forestry in Vietnam, the following is required: better coordination across sectors and amongst donors and government agencies; enhanced capacity building on the tracking and management of REDD+ finance; development and effective implementation of REDD+ policies and measures, so that the government can access result-based payments from different international funding sources.
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  • Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

Seagrass meadows: Underutilized and over-damaged carbon sinks

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Fishing boats rest on the shore at a research site in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

As global conservation awareness about mangroves, salt marshes and other coastal ecosystems continues to grow, seagrass meadows are being left at the bottom.

Hidden underwater, seagrass meadows may cover less than .2% of the ocean floor, but they are responsible for an estimated 10% or more of the ‘blue’ carbon sequestered by the ocean each year – storing only slightly less carbon per hectare than well-known mangrove ecosystems. And unlike forests, which rerelease the carbon they store after decades or centuries, seagrass meadows can hold onto their carbon stocks for millennia.

Lung-like in function, 1 square meter of seagrass can generate 10 liters of oxygen daily to its surrounding waters while filtering out pollutants and adding in nutrients that feed its inhabitant manatees, turtles, seahorses, sharks and dugong – as well as fisheries. A recent study says seagrass meadows are grounds for a fifth of the world’s top 25 fisheries, making them crucial to global food security and livelihoods.

Yet, these ecosystems are rapidly deteriorating, their rate of decline increasing from .9% before 1940 to 7% since 1990. In total, an estimated 29% of all seagrass meadows have vanished. Scientists say this rate is equal to the loss of a football field’s worth of seagrass every half hour.

In consequence, seagrass carbon stocks can be – and often are – released in an instant. Warmer waters from climate change, or the drop of an anchor, can unearth carbon that has been stored for thousands of years.

At the recent Blue Carbon Summit in Jakarta, researchers examining seagrass in Indonesia shared findings on these under-researched ecosystems, and what needs to be done to ensure their longevity going forward.

Read also: Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet

A patch of mangroves leans against the wind and waves in Rio Tumbes, Peru. Photo by B. Locatelli/CIFOR


About 100 million years ago, species of flowering plants migrated from terrestrial to aquatic environments, maintaining their roots, veins, and ability to produce flowers and seeds as they went. More closely related to palms and lilies than their much-simpler seaweed doppelgangers, seagrass reproduces via hydrophilic pollination and exchanges nutrients and gases with water through its leaves.

Now, some 72 species of seagrass exist around the world, varying in adaptation across different latitudes, water temperatures, tides, wave exposure and sediment substrate types of the sea floor. They can make their home in sub-tidal depths of up to 40 meters, in mud and silt, in sand coarse or fine, in coral alive and dead, and in areas with other competing species.

Subsequently, the way seagrass stores carbon also varies from place to place, dependent on similar factors. If a meadow is composed of one or many seagrass species, the carbon storage is affected. If the species are big or small, the carbon storage is affected. If the water gets warmer, or size of sand particles gets larger, or a migratory species comes passing through, the carbon storage is affected.

Protecting, managing and restoring seagrass meadows, then, begins with knowing the site-specificity of species and carbon storage. Off the south coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, for instance, Rohani Ambo-Rappe, Faculty of Marine and Fisheries at Hasanuddin University, found that meadows with high exposure to waves stored more carbon in the aboveground biomass of its seagrass, while low-exposure zones saw more carbon stored in roots below the sediment surface.

Meanwhile, in West and East Java, Dr. Devi Choesin from the Bandung Institute of Technology found that most carbon was stored below the sediment across the board, though with a great degree of variability. Given the wide number of contingencies at play, research methods for seagrass, she said, are difficult to standardize, contributing in part to the relative lack of data on seagrass so far.

“How much seagrass is left in Indonesia? If you ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 different answers,” said Tonny Wagey, Executive Director of the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund.

Read also: Governing mangroves: From Tanzania to Indonesia


The reasons for the decline of seagrass range from the usual suspects – water pollution, plastic waste, eutrophication, tourism development – to the less obvious, such as overgrazing of sea turtles, waves and water currents.

But because of the extant lack of attention and scientific focus on these ecosystems, they have yet to be formally included in major global initiatives and platforms, such as REDD+ and the UNFCCC agenda.

Within the agenda of Indonesia – which has the second-largest seagrass landscape globally, after Australia – the ambitious national goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26% by 2020 could use the help of seagrass, speakers at the Summit said, rather than putting all of the pressure on land-based ecosystems.

Sustainable management and development of seagrass in sectors such as fisheries can also contribute to the country’s Low Carbon Development initiative, as well as local enterprises making use of seagrass in its more traditional purposes: for fertilizer, furniture and building materials, and medical bandages and supplies. To meet President Joko Widodo’s bid to reduce plastic waste 70% by 2025, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Natural Resources said that seagrass along with cassava can be used in lieu of plastic in drinking water bottles.

In the ‘white papers’ being developed by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and partners to inform future Indonesian policy – a foremost outcome of the Summit – seagrass is included in the first recommendation, highlighting its crucial role in keeping pace with sea level rise, an important step toward changing the tide for these ecosystems.

Watch: Protecting North Sumatran mangroves, supporting biodiversity, people and the world

By Gabrielle Lipton, 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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  • Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

Failure to manage blue carbon ecosystems could break the internet 

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Daniel Murdiyarso, CIFOR Principal Scientist and IPB professor, speaks during the opening plenary of the Blue Carbon Summit. Photo by AIPI

Failing to properly manage “blue carbon” ecosystems could result in biodiversity losses, pronounced climate change effects and negative impacts on people’s livelihoods, and could even affect the internet. 

The Blue Carbon Summit held on July 17-18 in Jakarta, Indonesia, covered everything from the most well-known blue carbon ecosystems of mangroves and seagrass to coral reefs, the fish industry, ecotourism, plastic waste, shipping emissions and offshore mining.

Over two days, scientists, government, the private sector, media and likeminded community members came together for discussions that called for coordinated efforts to address issues related to blue carbon.

Blue carbon is that which is stored in coastal ecosystems, in contrast to “green carbon” stored in plants, trees and soil. In comparison to the attention paid to the carbon sequestered by forests, blue carbon has thus far remained relatively under the radar – but this belies its importance.

“We are here to correct an imbalance,” said Robert Nasi, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), during the summit opening, referring to the global focus on issues such as deforestation and greenhouse gases. “What is happening in coastal areas seems a bit forgotten. It’s a great time for us to bring that to the fore.”

Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, where vital infrastructure can also be found worldwide, Nasi explained, underscoring the importance of both scientists and policymakers understanding how the ecosystems work and how they can be restored. “Coastal ecosystems are fundamental for the survival of the species, for ecosystem services, for biodiversity, and for blue carbon,” he added.

“If we don’t do anything about these coastal areas, about blue carbon ecosystems, what is going to happen to us?” Nasi asked, pointing out that aside from people’s livelihoods and biodiversity in coastal areas being at stake, major infrastructure such as fiber-optic cables is often below sea level and could theoretically end up under water. “So if we don’t do something, we may also lose some part of the internet.”

Read also: Coastal blue carbon from planted mangroves holds promise

Policymakers and scientific experts came together to discuss blue carbon’s potential to mitigate climate change and enhance sustainable economic development during the summit. Photo by AIPI

“We think that this is the right time to work on this topic because of a critical mass already sharing their knowledge, already having results,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, Principal Scientist at CIFOR, which coorganized the summit, and professor in the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology at Bogor Agricultural University (IPB).

“So we want to sit together and see how this can be provided for the government, to make a science-based recommendation related to blue carbon.”

Murdiyarso expressed his hope that findings from the summit could be mainstreamed into the public agenda and connected to the Paris agreement on climate change, especially given blue carbon’s clear links to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Read also: Focus on mangroves: Blue carbon science for sustainable development

Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI) President Satrio Sumantri Brodjonegoro concurred, saying that the discussions were expected to identify gaps hindering the mainstreaming of blue carbon in the national agenda and to pave the way for blue carbon development in Indonesia. As the world’s largest archipelago, with 99,000 kilometers of coastline, the country is well-placed to not only set its own path but also to set a global example.

After the opening plenary on Day 1, subplenary sessions looked at the roles of non-state actors and the donor community. Following that, a series of parallel discussion forums considered the fishing industry, marine tourism and the shipping industry, governance systems, financing blue carbon development, hydrodynamic and sustainable coastal resources, and seagrass and climate change.

Day 2 began with a keynote speech from Indonesia’s Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, before subplenary sessions on international partnerships and a high-level forum of government representatives. The day was rounded out with parallel discussion forums on subsidence, sedimentation and sea-level rises, and mangroves and climate.

The discussions from the summit are expected to be developed into a white paper, set to cover the following points.

  • Blue carbon in both open ocean and coastal ecosystems, including mangroves and seagrasses, is important for climate change mitigation because of its significant carbon storage capacity compared with terrestrial ecosystems. These ecosystems also offer significant climate change adaptation opportunities, especially in helping coastal regions keep pace with sea level rise.
  • Blue carbon ecosystems provide numerous services to people and now is the time to consider their role in developing alternative livelihoods. Sustainable ecotourism, fisheries and shellfish farming are all industries that generate direct economic benefits while protecting intact mangroves.
  • Conservation and restoration are essential components of the blue carbon economy
  • Implementation of a blue carbon economy needs to take into consideration more than just carbon, and should encompass economic sectors such as fisheries, ecotourism, transportation and shipping.
  • Due to complex history and geography, governance structures and institutionalizing the blue carbon economy have posed considerable challenges in the past.
  • Mechanisms to finance the blue carbon economy must reflect the unique benefits and challenges of blue carbon and help overcome institutional biases.
  • The participation of local communities is essential to establishing the blue carbon economy
  • While the level of understanding of blue carbon is sufficient, capacity development will require stakeholders to be better connected.
  • To put blue carbon on national and global agendas, there must be a stronger coalition within and between government agencies to engage a wider network of stakeholders.
  • Partnerships are key to the success of achieving national and global objectives and goals. Learning lessons from partners is cost effective and therefore should be encouraged, while opportunities for greater cooperation should be enhanced.
A mangrove forest thrives in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by M. Edliadi/CIFOR

“Improved policies and implementation of blue carbon initiatives in the context of addressing climate change certainly cannot be done by one country. This effort requires coordination and engagement of all elements of development, at the national and regional levels – with the support of all parties including governments, private sector, communities as well as national and international development partners,” Gellwynn Yusuf, representing Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), said in closing the event.

This could be a mechanism for Indonesia to achieve SDGs, particularly by meeting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while also improving economic factors. While acknowledging that coordination among agencies was important, and that some financing challenges remained to be solved, Yusuf called on the international community to support Indonesia’s efforts in making blue carbon a key policy for combating the negative impacts of climate change.

“As the global leader in blue carbon ecosystems, Indonesia has an opportunity to demonstrate strong leadership and set the direction internationally for other countries,” he said.

By Hannah Maddison-Harris, FTA Communications and Editorial Coordinator. 

The Blue Carbon Summit was organized by AIPI, CIFOR, the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). 

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

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  • Spatial and seasonal variation in soil respiration along a slope in a rubber plantation and a natural forest in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China

Spatial and seasonal variation in soil respiration along a slope in a rubber plantation and a natural forest in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China

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Soil respiration is a key component of the global carbon cycle, and even small changes in soil respiration rates could result in significant changes in atmospheric CO2 levels. The conversion of tropical forests to rubber plantations in SE Asia is increasingly common, and there is a need to understand the impacts of this land-use change on soil respiration in order to revise CO2 budget calculations. This study focused on the spatial variability of soil respiration along a slope in a natural tropical rainforest and a terraced rubber plantation in Xishuangbanna, Southwest (SW) China. In each land-use type, we inserted 105 collars for soil respiration measurements. Research was conducted over one year in Xishuangbanna during May, June, July and October 2015 (wet season) and January and March 2016 (dry season). The mean annual soil respiration rate was 30% higher in natural forest than in rubber plantation and mean fluxes in the wet and dry season were 15.1 and 9.5 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in natural forest and 11.7 and 5.7 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 in rubber plantation. Using a linear mixed effects model to assess the effect of changes in soil temperature and moisture on soil respiration, we found that soil temperature was the main driver of variation in soil respiration, explaining 48% of its seasonal variation in rubber plantation and 30% in natural forest. After including soil moisture, the model explained 70% of the variation in soil respiration in natural forest and 76% in rubber plantation. In the natural forest slope position had a significant effect on soil respiration, and soil temperature and soil moisture gradients only partly explained this correlation. In contrast, soil respiration in rubber plantation was not affected by slope position, which may be due to the terrace structure that resulted in more homogeneous environmental conditions along the slope. Further research is needed to determine whether or not these findings hold true at a landscape level.

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  • Mapping conservation priorities for Asian tree species

Mapping conservation priorities for Asian tree species

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Decades of water erosion have sculpted this piece of Borneo ironwood, one of the world’s most durable timbers. Photo by R. Jalonen/Bioversity International

A new regional initiative is providing practitioners with tools for deciding where to focus conservation and restoration efforts.

The challenge: valuable tree species are under threat

Unsustainable extraction, along with changes in land uses and the climate, is threatening thousands of socioeconomically valuable tree species across Asia. These species urgently need conservation and restoration to help meet future needs for food, fuel and fiber in the world’s most populous region.

Yet, very little information is available about their historical and current distribution, patterns of genetic diversity, intensity of threats across their distribution ranges, or availability of seed sources to support restoration. Effective conservation strategies for these species and their genetic resources cannot be implemented without improving knowledge on the species’ distributions and the threats they are facing.

The solution: fill the knowledge gap

A new regional initiative is setting out to fill these gaps by producing up-to-date information on the distributions of valuable tree species and the threats to them, and guidance to develop conservation strategies that help maintain the genetic diversity and adaptive capacity of the species.

The Geographic Information for Conserving Native Tree Species and Their Genetic Resources in Asia-Pacific (APFORGIS) initiative is being coordinated by Bioversity International and implemented in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forest Genetic Resources Programme (APFORGEN). The initiative contributes directly to APFORGEN’s new strategy for 2018-2022, which has named improving the availability and accessibility of species information as one of the network’s key objectives for the next five years.

50 pilot tree species

Tree species experts from across the region have identified 50 pilot species for APFORGIS, based on existing national priority species lists, socioeconomic importance and conservation status, and the diversity of species traits such as pollen and seed dispersal patterns, including:

  • Kokum (Clusiaceae: Garcinia indica), widely used for its edible fruits, seed oil and medicinal values, and an important source of income for rural communities, but rapidly declining in the wild.
  • Gamboge species which are dioecious (having separate male and female trees) – conservation guidelines need to consider sex ratios and larger than usual population sizes to avoid inbreeding.
  • Borneo Ironwood (Lauraceae: Eusideroxylon zwageri), as its name suggests, is one of the most durable and heaviest timber species in the world, used for centuries for building ships, docks and houses fit for humid tropical conditions. Ironwood grows very slowly and its seed are dispersed mainly by gravity in the vicinity of the mother trees, making the species vulnerable for genetic erosion. Many anecdotes about the iconic species’ decline exist, yet it does not have an accurate conservation status or specific conservation strategies in place.

Methods, tools and capacities developed for these and other species can be used by forest departments, research institutions and conservation organizations for other species of interest with similar characteristics.

Knowledge to inform conservation strategies

A woman samples Borneo Ironwood for genetic analysis in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. Photo by R. Jalonen/Bioversity International

“Current lack of knowledge about these and other pilot species illustrates the conservation challenges in the vast and extremely diverse Asian region,” says Riina Jalonen, who is coordinating the initiative.

“Thirty-seven percent of the pilot species have never been assessed for their conservation status despite of their socioeconomic importance, and another 31 percent were last assessed in the 1990s. Of the species assessed in the past 10 years, three-quarters are threatened.”

APFORGIS uses existing information about the species occurrences and threats to them to develop species distribution models. The models give an estimate of historical, current and potential future distributions. The resulting maps will be validated by experts and used for identifying conservation priorities. They can also be used to design and target field studies in the future.

Regional species distribution and threat maps developed by APFORGIS will help to:

  • Identify centers of species diversity to optimize conservation efforts
  • Assess how well the current protected areas cover the priority areas for conservation
  • Identify areas where species populations may be most threatened by climate change
  • Identify seed transfer zones and adequacy of existing seed sources for tree planting and forest restoration
  • Plan studies on genetic diversity and provenance trials that are representative of the species’ range and the variation in environmental conditions

What’s next?

Based on up-to-date information about the species distributions and threats to them, the project will then develop guidelines for conservation units that maintain genetic diversity vital for the species survival, productivity and adaptive capacity. The units can also serve as sources of diverse and suitably adapted planting material, urgently needed for improving the success of forest restoration efforts.

Regional collaboration will allow countries share information and responsibilities in establishing and managing genetic conservation units. Fewer units are likely needed than if every country set up its own network, which helps to focus and sustain efforts over time.

The pilot species comprise:

  • Afzelia xylocarpa 
  • Ailanthus excelsa 
  • Albizia lebbeck 
  • Anisoptera costata 
  • Aquilaria crassna 
  • Aquilaria malaccensis 
  • Azadirachta indica 
  • Cinnamomum parthenoxylon 
  • Dalbergia cochinchinensis 
  • Dalbergia cultrata 
  • Dalbergia latifolia 
  • Dalbergia oliveri 
  • Dalbergia sissoo 
  • Dalbergia tonkinensis 
  • Diospyros cauliflora 
  • Dipterocarpus alatus 
  • Dipterocarpus grandiflorus 
  • Dipterocarpus turbinatus 
  • Dryobalanops aromatica 
  • Dyera costulata
  • Eurycoma longifolia 
  • Eusideroxylon zwageri 
  • Fagraea fragrans 
  • Garcinia indica 
  • Gluta usitata 
  • Gonystylus bancanus 
  • Hopea odorata 
  • Intsia bijuga 
  • Intsia palembanica 
  • Koompassia malaccensis 
  • Myristica malabarica 
  • Neolamarckia cadamba 
  • Parkia speciosa 
  • Pericopsis mooniana 
  • Phyllanthus emblica 
  • Pinus kesiya  
  • Pinus merkusii 
  • Podocarpus neriifolius 
  • Pometia pinnata 
  • Pongamia pinnata
  • Pterocarpus indicus 
  • Pterocarpus macrocarpus 
  • Santalum album 
  • Scaphium macropodum  
  • Shorea leprosula 
  • Shorea macrophylla 
  • Shorea ovalis 
  • Shorea parvifolia 
  • Shorea pinanga 
  • Shorea roxburghii 
  • Sindora siamensis 
  • Tectona grandis 
  • Terminalia chebula 
  • Vatica mangachapoi 
  • Xylia xylocarpa

To achieve conservation for the valuable tree species and their genetic diversity across Asia, the initiative needs help to gather information on the species’ known distributions, whether current or historical.

If you or your organization have data about the natural occurrences of the pilot species of APFORGIS, please contact Riina Jalonen r.jalonen@cgiar.org to find out how you can help.

Originally published on the website of Bioversity International

Geographic Information for Conserving Native Tree Species and Their Genetic Resources in Asia-Pacific (APFORGIS) is a regional project implemented in Asian countries from December 2017 to November 2019. The project is coordinated by Bioversity International and implemented in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Forest Genetic Resources Programme (APFORGEN). The project is funded by the German Government through the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry and is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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