Thursday, 27 May 2010

Norway's $ 1 Billion REDD Cash Must Prioritize Preservation of Papua's Forests

Norway has just pledged $ 1 billion to Indonesia to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in the country, under a new climate change Partnership announced today. The partnership is part of the Government of Norway's International Climate and Forests Initiative.

Papua and West Papua must be prioritized under the implementation phase if REDD, and this partnership, are to prevent Indonesia's deforestation emissions crisis shifting from the West to the East of the country in the coming years. Indonesia needs to allow that to happen, despite its reticence to open Papua up to outside scrutiny of any kind (as highlighted again by the recent arrest of French Journalists working in Jayapura).

It's not just Papua Forest Eye that is worried Papua will be left out in favour of already degraded lands in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) has also flagged up the danger that Papua is sidelined. In a set of recommendations to Norway on the use of it’s REDD funds in Indonesia, RFN's Director, Lars Løvold, wrote:
“There is a danger that Indonesia will implement REDD measures in already degraded and deforested areas such as Sumatra and Central Kalimantan, while massive expansion of tree and oil palm plantations in remaining natural forest of Papua will continue unabated.”
He added:
"The second province should be Papua, where the largest remaining intact tracts of natural forest remain. Unless Papua is targeted as one of the first provinces to implement REDD, it is highly likely that much of this forest will disappear before a national REDD structure is in place."
This mirrors recommendations to the international community from EIA and Telapak in their 2009 report on plantations in Papua – Up for Grabs. These included:
“Ensure Papua is prioritised in development assistance to address poverty, secure sustainable livelihoods, and reduce carbon emissions from deforestation in Indonesia.”
The dangers facing Papua's forests are already clear from reports and films on logging and the expansionist plantations sector there. What is not clear is whether the two countries can put aside politically sticky issues that threaten to exclude Papua's people from a more sustainable development path in the decades to come.

It is this nexus of economic development and environmental integrity that President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono has highlighted as the central challenge for Indonesia in the coming years. Speaking after the signing of the Partnership with Norway on Wednesday, the President said:
"Working with our developed country partners, we will protect Indonesia’s globally significant carbon- and biodiversity-rich tropical rainforests while helping local populations become more prosperous"
Thankfully, the ever progressive and reformist Mr Yudhoyono pledged that Indonesia will:
“conduct a moratorium for two years where we stop the conversion of peat land and of forests".
Yet with this moratorium not due to begin till 2011, the danger is clearly that a load of dodgy logging, forest conversion and mining permits (like those being investigated by the KPK - Indonesia's ever busy anti-corruption watchdog - right now) are rushed through in the next 6 months. With the world now watching, for the sake of Indonesia’s global reputation and the people and forests of Papua, let’s hope they are not.

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