Indonesia Announces 8.4% Decrease in Deforestation, Environmental NGO: Figures Need to be Examined

Environment Jakarta

JAKARTA, JAKTIMES.COM – The Indonesian government has just released the achievements in reducing deforestation and its efforts to meet Indonesia’s climate commitments.

The Indonesian government announced that deforestation in Indonesia from 2021 to 2022 has decreased by 8.4% compared to the previous period.

One environmental NGO, Sustainable MADANI Foundation, appreciates this development but also urges the public to examine the deforestation figures and asks the government to provide a more comprehensive overview of the situation of Indonesia’s natural forests.

This was stated by Nadia Hadad, Executive Director of Sustainable MADANI, regarding the announced decrease in Indonesia’s deforestation during 2021-2022.

“We need to specifically look at the reduction in natural forest, separate from the deforestation and afforestation of plantation forests,” explained Nadia Hadad. Unlike monoculture plantation forests that provide limited ecosystem services, natural forests play critical roles in life. Natural forests help reduce the risk of disasters, prevent the worsening of the climate crisis, and preserve biodiversity.

“The loss of natural forests can also mean the loss of the nation’s cultural wealth, especially the culture of local communities and indigenous peoples living within or around forest areas. Natural forests are also crucial for achieving Indonesia’s FOLU Net Sink 2030 and Net Zero Emissions 2060 or earlier targets,” added Nadia Hadad.

Additionally, Nadia Hadad also called on the government to disclose data on the loss of natural forests in concession areas. Sustainable MADANI’s study on deforestation in the previous period (2020-2021) showed that secondary natural forests were the most vulnerable to deforestation. The same study also revealed that the largest loss of natural forests occurred in Forest Areas, particularly in Production Forest Areas related to permits and concessions.

“Permits and concessions in Indonesia manage a significant amount of natural forests. Sustainable MADANI’s study for the previous period (2020-2021) showed that 62% of the loss of natural forests occurred within permits and concessions. Overlapping permits make it difficult to determine which permits or concessions are the main drivers of deforestation. The loss of natural forests also occurs in the Area of Interest Food Estate, which has received various regulatory red carpets as a National Strategic Project, making it vulnerable to becoming a new driver of deforestation. Sustainable MADANI’s study showed that approximately 2,000 hectares of natural forests were lost in the Area of Interest Food Estate during the period of 2020-2021,” explained Nadia Hadad.

According to Nadia, the protection of the remaining natural forests is particularly crucial for natural forests within palm oil plantation permits, plantation forests, and mining areas, as these activities often involve land clearing. If natural forests in permitted or concession areas are lost, Indonesia will undoubtedly fail to achieve its climate commitments. The government also needs to announce its determination to protect natural forests in addressing the persisting issues of permits in forest areas and ensure transparency in the process. The current lack of transparency increases the risk of losing natural forests due to the lack of public scrutiny.

The government also needs to protect natural forests outside of permits that are not yet protected through various policy instruments that combine command and control approaches with incentive-disincentive approaches.

“Approximately 9.7 million hectares of natural forests outside of permits or concessions, moratorium areas, and areas designated for social forestry (PIAPS) are still unprotected and vulnerable to deforestation. These unprotected natural forests must be immediately protected through various policy instruments, such as expanding the moratorium area to include all natural forests, including those classified as secondary natural forests and Essential Ecosystem Areas, providing incentives for environmental services, as well as other policy instruments. Half of these unprotected natural forests are already included in the Forest Utilization Direction Map (PAPH) intended for granting new Business Utilization Permits,” she said.

To prevent further deforestation of natural forests, Nadia emphasized the need for legislation or policies that state that natural forests in the PAPH area will not be allocated for timber utilization but only for environmental services and Non-Timber Forest Products.

“In addition, considering the large-scale control of natural forests by large companies, it is time for the government to prioritize the management of natural forests by communities and not large-scale business permits,” concluded Nadia Hadad (Wan)

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