JAKARTA, Indonesia (28 September, 2011)_To achieve the low-carbon future envisioned by REDD+, local communities must reap the economic benefits of safeguarding Indonesia’s forests, said REDD+ Task Force Chairman Kuntoro Mangkusubroto at yesterday’s Forests Indonesia conference.
“In order for low carbon growth to be successful, we must make it relevant to the local communities whose prosperity depends on addressing the scarcity of our natural resources,” Kuntoro, head of the Presidential Working Unit on Development Monitoring (UKP4), told a gathering of nearly 1,000 business leaders, government officials, development experts and international donors at the event hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
There are currently about 40 REDD+ pilot projects across Indonesia that aim to give guidance to local governments and ministries on how to plan and implement low-carbon activities in the agriculture, forestry and mining sectors in order to reduce deforestation — the source of 85 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Carrying out the national government’s plan to promote a green economy based on sustainable forest management will require resolving land tenure disputes that have routinely blocked progress of REDD+, even in its earliest stages.
“Spatial planning must encompass how access is granted for the rights of local communities to use customary land,” Kuntoro said.
The need to resolve disputes arising from overlapping land use regulations and unclearly demarcated lands was echoed by Agus Purnomo, the Special Advisor the President on Climate Change. “It is not clear whether legal hearings can settle disputes over concessions,” Agus said. “It is critical that we create a REDD+ mechanism to settle land tenure conflicts.”
If REDD+ succeeds in creating a green economy that improves livelihoods for forest-dependent local communities, it could be a “pivotal steppingstone” in achieving development targets, Kuntoro said.
But winning local support for REDD+ is often meeting resistance from the very communities that stand to benefit from sustainable forest management practices, he noted. Most rural communities who depend on forests for their livelihoods have difficulty grasping the concept of keeping forests intact in order to accumulate carbon stocks that can then be traded and sold.
“What they do understand is the reality that they can make instant cash by selling their land to a palm oil company for a mere 2.5 million Rupiah per hectare,” Kuntoro said. “To achieve success in REDD+, we must think in practical terms to bridge the abstract concept of REDD+ with the reality of the need to improve livelihoods.”