REDD Pilot Projects in Indonesia: Pilot Projects in Indonesia Are Generating Valuable Insights into the Potential Challenges and Risks of an International Scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

By Askham, Beth | Ecos, December 2010 | Go to article overview

REDD Pilot Projects in Indonesia: Pilot Projects in Indonesia Are Generating Valuable Insights into the Potential Challenges and Risks of an International Scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation


Askham, Beth, Ecos


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Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is an incentive strategy that, as currently conceived, involves payments to developing countries for activities that will prevent deforestation or degradation that would otherwise have taken place. REDD schemes can be either 'market-based' (ie they generate tradeable carbon permits), or 'fund-based' (ie developing countries receive cash or other incentive payments). Although REDD is not yet covered by the Kyoto Protocol, pilot projects are starting in many developing nations, led by NGOs, private companies, national governments and government aid agencies.

REDD is complicated by the politics and people involved. Governance, the rights of local communities, volatile global carbon prices, the complexities of carbon accounting and the challenges of monitoring feature in the convoluted REDD landscape.

In many ways, it is still too early to assess the success of pilot REDD projects. However, a range of initiatives in Indonesia is providing useful insights into the practical and ethical challenges of the scheme.

The latest estimates indicate that deforestation and forest degradation account for about 12 per cent of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon emissions from tropical peatland burning and oxidation in South-East Asia--mostly in Indonesia--are estimated to be significantly higher (17 per cent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere). (1) Indonesia has the third-highest carbon emissions in the world, much of which is driven by the conversion of existing tropical forests to agriculture?

An NGO-led REDD project

In West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, a pilot REDD project lead by NGO Fauna and Flora International (FFI) in partnership with Australia's Macquarie Bank is seeking to work with local communities to manage their forests as a 'joint carbon pool'. The forests in this area are under threat of being cleared for enterprises such as palm oil plantations. If the forests remain standing, the project will potentially be able to trade the stored carbon in the global carbon market.

Some of these forests are peat forests, which store significant amounts of carbon. Peat, organic debris that falls to the forest floor, can be up to 22 metres deep. It is saturated with water, which prevents it decomposing, and can store carbon for thousands of years. When the forests are cleared, the peat dries out and breaks down in the presence of air, releasing the stored carbon.

FFI carbon accounting specialist, pilot projects in Indonesia Pilot projects in Indonesia are generating valuable insights into the potential challenges and risks of an international scheme to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Beth Askham reports.

Ms Zoe Ryan, is charged with the job of assessing the amount of carbon stored in tropical forests for pilot and potential REDD projects. She compares the amount of stored carbon with the amount that would be lost if the forests were cleared and replaced with crops such as palm oil.

Ms Ryan uses forest vegetation samples, Geographic Information Systems and remote-sensing technologies such as Landsat images to gather information about potential REDD project areas. Ms Ryan works with a team of community consultation specialists who aim to reach an agreement with the local community.

'The local people have to give prior and informed consent. They can say no, they are the ultimate stakeholders" she says. 'The rural communities that are stewards of the forests need sufficient benefits from the program.'

Rimba Raya: NGO and corporate collaboration

On the southern coast of Borneo in Central Kalimantan province, a 500-square-kilometre area of tropical peat swamp forest has been purchased and developed as a REDD program. The Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve project developer, Infinite Earth, is collaborating with Shell Canada, Gazprom Marketing and Trading (a subsidiary of Gazprom, the world's largest gas company), Orangutan Foundation International and the Clinton Climate Initiative. …

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