Restoring ecosystems: the answer to Indonesia’s dilemma
Pressure for the Indonesian government to actively participate in climate change mitigation has intensified in recent times. Since 2016, Indonesia has been part of the Paris Agreement to join the global movement to fight climate change and its negative impacts. First adopted at COP 21, the agreement requires committed countries to submit an updated national climate action plan, called Nationally Determined Contribution or NDC, over a five-year cycle. . Thus, the COP 26, which was held a few weeks ago in Glasgow, has been the center of attention of all activists and environmentalists to find out how each country’s progress has alleviated climate problems over the past five years. years. President Jokowi spoke at COP 26 about Indonesia’s achievements in mitigating climate change, which many Indonesian activists and environmentalists went on to criticize. He mentioned that Indonesia has contributed positively to the fight against climate change and that the rate of deforestation in Indonesia has significantly decreased. Greenpeace criticized that not all of Jokowi’s claims represented the whole situation in the current state of Indonesia. Greenpeace believed that the low rate of deforestation was not the result of political intervention but simply of the rainy season.
Just a day after the COP 26 conference, the tweets of Siti Nurbaya, the Minister of Environment and Forests, added fuel to the fire. She wrote a Twitter thread, explaining that the vast development during Jokowi’s time shouldn’t be stopped just because of carbon emissions or deforestation. She also confronted the Indonesian government with the dilemma of achieving the goal of net zero carbon by 2030. “If the concept is not deforestation, it means there will be no roads, then what about people, should they be isolated? In the meantime, the government must be present among its people ”. The statement she tweeted was considered pro-deforestation, which contradicts her duty to contribute to Indonesia’s commitment to Net-Zero by 2060. It instantly went viral on social media . In addition to the controversy, the National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2015-2019 mentioned six main national development objectives: the main development objectives of the sector, in particular food and energy. With monoculture food production and energy production from fossil fuels, deforestation is inevitable, and Minister Siti’s controversial statement makes more sense and reflects the dilemma of forest management in Indonesia.
However, the urgency of creating a global movement to fight climate change is because climate change is becoming real. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global temperature was 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period in 2019. In addition to this, total greenhouse gas emissions greenhouse, including land-use change, reached 59.1 gigatons of carbon. carbon dioxide equivalent. It is undeniable that Indonesia also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. The Global Forest Watch summarized the loss of tree cover that has occurred in Indonesia over the past ten years. Over the past two decades, Indonesia has lost 27.7 million hectares of tree cover and the equivalent of 19 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. An article from WRI Indonesia mentioned that although the overall deforestation rate is declining from 2015 to 2018, several provinces with an abundance of primary forests and peatlands, which are East Kalimantan, Moluccas and West Papua, have experienced a 43%, 40%, and 35% rate of increase in deforestation, respectively. The impact of climate change affects environmental and social aspects and significantly affects the economy. At the 4th Indonesian Circular Economic Forum, the National Development Planning Agency of Indonesia or Bappenas mentioned that the economic losses due to climate change will reach 115 trillion rupees in 2024. However, Indonesia can reduce the losses to 57 trillion rupees by making efforts on climate change mitigation, said Bappenas.
The dilemma then begs the question: How should the Indonesian government act on climate change mitigation in a way that does not threaten the continuity of national development but does not retard the growth of economic development? In 2004, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry published a regulation on Ecosystem Restoration Concessions (ERC) in the production forest area. ERC is a forest management model that enables the private sector to restore degraded lands and use non-timber products and environmental services in the production forest area. The idea behind ERC is to provide a license to investors, similar to the logging and industrial forest permit, to reforest the area affected by the activities of the other two permits. ERC could help large-scale carbon capture and offset the carbon footprint of development activities if it works well. And since private companies run the ERC, it could also have a positive impact on the economy. Unlike NGOs or non-profit organizations, the ERC program requires the operating company to profit from ecosystem restoration. This can come from the use of non-wood products such as honey, bamboo or rattan, the cultivation of medicinal plants, the preservation of wildlife, the development of ecotourism, and carbon capture and sequestration.
Even though ERC is a relatively new concept and not as attractive and popular as other types of concession, some ERC companies have been successful in showing progress that supports Indonesia’s development plan and goals of ERC. climate change mitigation. PT Rimba Makmur Utama’s ERC (RMU), also known as the Katingan-Mentaya Project, focuses on carbon trading to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has sold its carbon credits to companies such as Shell, Volkswagen and NP Paribas. By protecting and restoring the forest, RMU had verified carbon units for around 4.34 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2017. Member of the APRIL group, PT Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER), is also committed to protect, restore and conserve the forest ecosystem. via ERC. RER invents flora and fauna, prevents forest fires and conducts research on ecosystems in its concession of 150,693 ha of forest in the province of Riau. The RER embodies APRIL’s commitment to conserve one hectare of land for each hectare of APRIL’s pulp and paper plantation. PT Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (REKI), the first holder of an ERC license, has become home to 1,350 species, improving local livelihoods by protecting farmers’ right to land, promoting women’s rights and promoting women’s rights. preserving deforestation-free areas through its Hutan Harapan. And PT Restorasi Habitat Orangutan Indonesia (RHOI) has provided secure habitat for more than 400 orangutans from the BOS Foundation’s Orangutan Reintroduction Program.
ERC’s business models typically include carbon sequestration, wildlife conservation, forest protection, use of non-timber forest products (NTFS), development of ecotourism, improvement of local economies and research and development. These activities potentially support the national development plan in practice and strategically. Five of the 7 programs of the National Medium-Term Development Plan 2020-2024, which strengthen economic resilience, reduce inequalities due to regional development, improve human resources, strengthen national character and culture, and improve the natural environment and build climate and disaster resilience, could use the ecosystem restoration concession as a strategy to achieve sustainable development goals. In addition, the implementation of the Omnibus law can benefit investors in their ecosystem restoration activities. The current regulations issued by the Minister of the Environment and Forests, P.8 / 2021, authorize multi-business activities in production forests with a single permit, called PBPH. With PBPH, investors can be more flexible in choosing where to invest in ecosystem restoration. In addition, Indonesia’s 2022 G20 presidency also requires President Jokowi to show his ability and willingness to move towards sustainable development. By promoting ERC and putting best practices into practice, ecosystem restoration may be the most strategic way to resolve the dilemma between climate change and development.