The Government of Indonesia deserves high praise for its numerous commitments to protect and restore peatland over the past several years. At the start of this year, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) announced the Ministerial Regulation No. 40/2017 regarding government facilitation of Industrial Tree Concessions (HTI) within the framework of the management and protection of peat ecosystems.While the Government Regulation No. 57/2016 on the management and protection of peatland obligate the enterprises to protect peat areas under a conservation status, the aforementioned Ministerial Regulation provides a compensation scheme for HTI companies by allowing them to seek for land swap – to obtain substitute land for their working areas that falls into conserved peat ecosystem category.
If we try to look back and think about why fires are such a regular occurrence in Indonesia, we should know that the problem lies in how we manage our forest and land. This weak forest and land governance is often influenced by inaccurate, incomplete and outdated reference maps, causing issues such as slow spatial planning process, overlapping of concessions and licenses as well as growing conflicts involving local communities.
Indonesia’s forest and land fires have reached a new level of global significance. New analysis published this week by Guido van der Werf, lead scientist with the Global Fire Emissions Database, indicates that since September greenhouse gas emissions from the fires exceeded the average daily emissions from all US economic activity. Extrapolating from van der Werf’s estimates, these emissions are likely to add about 3 percent to total global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities for the year. The emissions from fires so far in 2015 are more than three times higher than expected by Indonesia’s national planning agency.
Extreme haze caused by forest and bush fires throughout Sumatra and Kalimantan has been a perpetual problem affecting the quality of life and economy of local residents and neighboring countries.
As this year’s dry season approaches, the fires are just starting to pick up, especially in the fire-prone province of Riau in Sumatra, but they are already threatening some of the most biodiverse and carbon-rich ecosystems in the country-protected forests and peatlands.
If we are serious about tackling climate change, we need to talk about Indonesia.
While it may not be the country with the highest emissions from energy or industry, what Indonesia does have is forests, and lots of them. Many of the country’s more than 13,000 islands are blanketed by vast green jungles that absorb carbon and store it in trees and soils.
The government inaugurated on Sept. 1 last year the National Program for the Protection and Recognition of Indigenous Peoples (PPMHA) through the country’s Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation Plus (REDD+) program.
Indonesia’s REDD+ program understands social equity as key to successfully tackling climate change. The recognition of collective indigenous land rights provides communities with a critical asset base — land — for poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
Recently, the Forestry Minstry issued Ministerial Decree No. 633/2014, which determines Indonesia’s forest reference emission level (FREL). According to the decree, the reference emission level to calculate the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the forestry sector in Indonesia is 0.816 billion tons (gigatons — gt). When actual emissions are lower than the reference level, emissions are reduced.