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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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  • Minimizing the footprint of our food by reducing emissions from all land uses

Minimizing the footprint of our food by reducing emissions from all land uses

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Autors: van Noordwijk M , Dewi S , Minang P A


Twenty-four years after the formulation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Paris Agreement will come into force by November 2016 and finally provide an umbrella for addressing fossil fuel as well as land-use aspects of the human impacton the global climate. Its preamble (as well as article 2) emphasizes the primary concern over continued food production. The Policy Brief addresses whether or not accounting systems and accountability further shift towards “footprints” per unit product, aligned with emission accounting from all land uses, not “just” forests. Nationally Determined Contributions emphasize he supply side of accounting (land use, fossil energy use). The “drivers” are the demand-side relations with human wellbeing and Individually Determined Contributions, to which the private sector responds with various claims on deforestation-free or carbon-neutral value chains.

Published at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)

Publication year: 2016

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  • How to make Indonesia’s forest moratorium more effective  

How to make Indonesia’s forest moratorium more effective  

The dynamics of land-cover output resulting from the simulations of the LUCES model under three different scenarios. Infographic from study.
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Timber is the main source of income both in West Kotawaringin and in Kapuas district. Photo: CIFOR
Timber is the main source of income both in West Kotawaringin and in Kapuas district. Photo: CIFOR

By Kerstin Reisdorf

For six years, Indonesia has used a moratorium on cutting down primary forests as a means to reduce deforestation and the carbon (CO2) emissions associated with forest loss. Although the concrete benefits of the moratorium are questionable, researchers and policy-makers still see a forest moratorium as an important instrument to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity. It is hard to imagine how Indonesia will meet its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 29 percent by 2030 compared with the business as usual scenario without a forest conversion moratorium, says Meine van Noordwijk, Chief Science Adviser of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Coordinator of the landscapes theme of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). A new study under FTA shows a way of how a forest moratorium could be designed to be more effective.

“We modelled land-use change and ecosystem services, namely CO2 storage, in two Indonesian districts,” van Noordwijk explains. “Our aim was to find out how forest moratorium policies influence companies and communities in their decisions about how to use the land.”

The location

This study was conducted for West Kotawaringin and Kapuas districts in Central Kalimantan Province which are very different.

Case study area in the districts of West Kotawaringin and Kapuas (highlighted in grey). Map from study.
Case study area in the districts of West Kotawaringin and Kapuas (highlighted in grey). Map from study.

West Kotawaringin is situated in the western part of Central Kalimantan with a total area of about 8381 km2. The district has a population density of about 28 people per square kilometer and an annual population growth rate of 4.2 %. Timber from natural forest and forest plantations has been the main livelihood of the local population for more than two decades. The boom in the timber industry benefited people and district government alike: West Kotawaringin became one of the richest districts in Central Kalimantan.

“But then their fortune took a change for the worse,” van Noordwijk says. The logging and timber industry collapsed in the mid 2000s and palm oil prices went up sharply worldwide. “Logging companies shifted their business to oil palm. Even the locals started to convert their forest and agroforest areas to oil palm, sometimes illegally,” he adds.

Kapuas district is located in the south east of Central Kalimantan with a total area of 17,339 km2. In the mid-nineties, most of the peat forest was converted to agriculture for a mega rice project. Many people from the islands of Java, Sumatra and Bali were relocated to Kapuas to work there.

But the project failed after only five years, leaving in its wake degraded peat forest and poverty. Many of the migrant workers left the area so that the population density fell to around 19 people per km2, the population growth rate stands at 0.7 %. Now timber production and non-timber forest products (NTFP) make for the main livelihoods.

The dynamics of land-cover output resulting from the simulations of the LUCES model under three different scenarios. Infographic from study.
The dynamics of land-cover output resulting from the simulations of the LUCES model under three different scenarios. Infographic from study.

The modelling

Van Noordwijk and his colleagues wanted to find out what it takes to influence companies and individuals in a way that they conserve the forest and thus reduce carbon emissions.

They looked at seven products and ecosystem services:

  • rattan (Calamus),
  • jelutong (Dyera costulata),
  • timber (various species),
  • rubber (Hevea brasiliensis),
  • oil palm (Elaeis guineensis),
  • paddy (Oryza sativa) and
  • carbon stocks.

“The carbon stocks were of course what we were most interested in to show the potential of a forest moratorium to help Indonesia meet its commitment to mitigate climate change,” van Noordwijk says.

The agent-based model they used is called Land-Use Change and Ecosystem Services (LUCES) and requires inputs of various maps and parameter values such as market prices, returns on land and labour, production, employment, demographics and ecosystem service supply.

Both households and companies of course make land-use decisions based on market prices, but local people are also influenced by their perception of how to improve their income and reap other benefits.

After the collapse of the logging industry, farmers in West Kotawaringin moved into oil palm plantations. Photo: Yayan Indriatmoko/CIFOR
After the collapse of the logging industry, farmers in West Kotawaringin moved into oil palm plantations. Photo: Yayan Indriatmoko/CIFOR

In the forest moratorium scenario, we simulated the recent implementation of the forest conversion moratorium and two alternatives as follows

  • Business as usual reflects the current trend, including the forest conversion moratorium, which initially ran from 2011 to 2014. The moratorium applies only to new or extended permits for companies converting peat forest to other land use; it does not apply to local communities.
  • The extended moratorium scenario extends the period of the forest conversion moratorium to 25 years starting from 2011. The forest conversion moratorium applies to new or extended permits for companies converting peat forest to other land use; it does not apply to local communities.
  • The moratorium plus livelihoods scenario adds an improved livelihood program to the moratorium with enhanced markets for non-timber forest products (NTFPs), agroforestry products and community timber, e.g. an increase of farm-gate prices by 15 percent.

The results

“We were pleased to see that that this last combination of moratorium plus, if you want to call it that, significantly slows down land-use change,” van Noordwijk says. Compared to business as usual, this scenario could slow down conversion of forest on mineral soil and peat forest by about six and five percent, respectively.

In West Kotawaringin, a moratorium plus livelihood benefits scenario could expand forest and agroforest areas and subsequently the supply of timber, rattan, jelutong, rubber; and it would increase CO2 storage. The increase in total carbon sequestration could reduce CO2 emissions by about 23 percent. For the Kapuas district the potential reduction of CO2 emissions under the same scenario was 15 percent.

According to the researchers, these results confirm previous studies which had found that premium prices for NTFP, agroforestry rubber and community timber could change local perceptions of forest and agroforest conservation and therefore reduce potential CO2 emissions from land-use change.

It is noteworthy that for the wealthier district West Kotawaringin the extension of the forest moratorium made hardly a difference because both households and companies can expect high incomes from oil palm. Extending the period of the moratorium only stops private companies from converting peat forests to oil palm but not households, since this regulation only applies to companies.

For households, however, premium prices for NTFPs, agroforestry rubber and community timber, can have an effect on their expectations and land-use decisions, both in the wealthier and poorer district.

The good news

The study means good news for a government that has committed itself to ambitious climate goals but cannot disregards its needs for economic development to overcome poverty, the researchers are convinced of that. According to the World Bank, 28.6 million Indonesians still live below the poverty line and around 40 percent remain clustered around the national poverty line of 330,776 rupiah per person per month ($22.60).

A policy that combines a forest moratorium with livelihood support and increases farm-gate prices of forest and agroforestry products could increase local communities’ benefits from conservation. Forest and agroforestry areas that are profitable and competitive are more likely to be conserved. This means that potential carbon emissions could be reduced by about 36 percent.

“We think that the LUCES model could be a useful tool to help the Indonesian government fine-tune its policies so that it can achieve its INDCs. It has been stated that with international support, Indonesia could cut down its GHG emission by 41 percent by 2030. An effective moratorium would boost Indonesia’s credibility vis-à-vis international donors such as Norway who have shown their support for helping the country transition to a climate-friendly, sustainable development path,” van Noordwijk says.

Read the study

Indonesia’s forest conversion moratorium assessed with an agent-based model of Land-Use Change and Ecosystem Services (LUCES)



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  • Dynamics of Land Use/Cover Change and Carbon Emission in Buol District, Indonesia

Dynamics of Land Use/Cover Change and Carbon Emission in Buol District, Indonesia

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World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program 2015

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