The highest level of deforestation, which was 3.5 million hectares (ha) that had occurred in Indonesia in the 1996-2000 period, dropped dramatically to 0.44 million ha in the 2017-2018 period.
The Intergovernmental Panel for the United Nations Climate Change (IPCC) recently issued a special report entitled Climate Change and Land. The panel, which is filled with experts from around the world, emphasises forest protection and reforestation as the key to curb climate change so that the temperature of the Earth does not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius.
The report shows that throughout history, land use by humans accounted for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the report also mentioned in the 2007-2016 period, global emissions from land-based sectors (agriculture, forestry, and land use change) reached 23% of global emissions.
Reflecting on these data, the IPCC recommends all countries, including Indonesia, to reduce deforestation, protect peat, mangroves, and restore ecosystems. The report also recommends that the world reduce 30 gigatons of carbon emissions per year by 2030.
Executive Director of Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) Henri Subagiyo said that the IPCC report reminded all parties that efforts to respond to climate change related to land use became crucial.
“This IPCC special report on climate change and land reinforces the fact that human activities on land including forests are the biggest contributor to emissions. However, in the land sector there are also many hopes for mitigation and adaptation,” he said.
Climate Justice Campaign Manager of Walhi Yuyun Harmono said, based on the IPCC report, the most effective way to reduce emissions is to stop deforestation, reforestation, and protect important ecosystems, such as peat and mangroves.
When compared with other tropical countries, Indonesia is considered to show great progress in reducing deforestation in recent years. Official government data shows that deforestation rates have continued to decline and have tended to be stable in recent years.
The highest level of deforestation, which is 3.5 million hectares (ha) occurred in the 1996-2000 period. During 2015-2016 deforestation reached 1.09 million ha due to forest fires. In the 2017-2018 period the rate of deforestation dropped dramatically to 0.44 million ha.
Global Forest Watch data also states that Indonesia had reduced deforestation by 40% in primary forests by 2018 when compared to the average annual loss rate in 2002-2016.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) Indonesia report states that the reduction in the rate of deforestation is inseparable from the effectiveness of government policies carried out in the form of a moratorium on primary natural forest and peatland permits, control of forest and land fires, control of peat damage, and climate change control.
The Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, on various occasions emphasised the protection of crucial forests in supporting Indonesia to achieve the 29% GHG emission reduction target in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) document. Of the reduction target in the Paris Agreement, 17% of the target relies on the forest and land sector. In NDC Indonesia, deforestation has been restricted to not exceed 450,000 hectares in 2020 and 325,000 hectares in 2030.
“The government has intervened in regulation and law enforcement which is the main key in efforts to reduce deforestation in Indonesia, including a moratorium on new permits on primary natural forests and peatlands that have been signed by President Jokowi. Permanent moratorium means that there will be no new licenses on primary natural forests and peatlands,” said Minister Siti.
Since 2011, the government has temporarily stopped new permits in primary forests and peatlands to protect natural forests. This effort was followed by a moratorium on new permits for palm oil, evaluation of existing permits, supported by policies to maintain High Conservation Forest Value (HCFV) and increase productivity of palm oil plantations in accordance with ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil), and control of forest fires.
A number of policies from the forest and land sector contribute to Indonesia’s emissions reduction achievements. As of 2017, Indonesia had succeeded in reducing emissions by around 24% from the target of 29% according to the NDC. The achievement of reducing emissions was shot up from 10.7% in 2016.
In addition to protect forests through policy interventions, achievements in reducing emissions have also contributed to the decline in peatland fires. In 2016, emissions from peat fires reached 90.2 million tons of CO2, while in 2017 emissions were only around 12.3 million tons of CO2.
Researcher of the Forest and Land Division of ICEL Marsya Mutmainah stated that NDC Indonesia was quite ambitious as a developing country. In its implementation, support from other sectoral agencies is needed.
“The NDC must be seen as a guide for development by relevant sectoral agencies, not just limited to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as a national focal point,” she said.
Indonesia also has plans to prepare for low carbon development. Indonesia’s ambition as the first developing country to develop low-carbon development that has received praise in the international arena, said Marsya, needs to be implemented immediately.
Winata, Dhika Kusuma. “Forest Protection Becomes a Base,” https://mediaindonesia.com/read/detail/253042-perlindung-jadi-tumpuan. Accessed on the 21st of August 2019.