A recent report from Friends of the Earth International takes a further look at the Australian-funded Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership. The report looks at the social and environmental effectiveness of the KFCP project and concludes that forest carbon offsets are a false solution to climate change.
The report, “In the REDD: Australia’s carbon offset project in Central Kalimantan”, was published in December 2011 and can be downloaded here (pdf file 1.4 MB). The project is part of the Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership which also includes a REDD project in Jambi province in Sumatra.
Australia’s KFCP project in Central Kalimantan is a four year project that will come to an end this year. The project is run by AusAID and the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, together with a range of partners: Palangkaraya University, Wetlands International, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, CARE, and WWF.
FoEI’s report summarises the key findings as follows:
- The Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership continues to be used as a platform to establish REDD as a UN-sanctioned source of low-cost carbon offsets for Australia in the longer term.
- The agreement with Indonesia does not guarantee indigenous rights, and is in conflict with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Australia in April 2009.
- This ‘first large-scale’ REDD pilot project in Central Kalimantan does not clarify or recognise the rights of local forest-dependent communities, including as a precondition for implementation, and there is no mention of the rights of local forest-dependent communities in the project documentation. The project is creating additional tension and conflicts with respect to land tenure in the area.
- The Kalimantan REDD project has created confusion among local groups, and faces ongoing opposition from local people. Community groups continue to express their concerns about the facts that the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent is not being realised; the project will not address the relevant drivers of deforestation in the area; and the KFCP does not recognise customary Dayak wisdom.
- Evidence of carbon leakage through continued illegal land clearing seriously undermines the effectiveness of the project. Palm oil firms have been found to be illegally clearing land in a nearby zone in Central Kalimantan, which is supposed to be subject to a deforestation moratorium under the Norway-Indonesia REDD+ Partnership.
The KFCP project covers a small area of the Suharto-regime Mega Rice Project, that aimed to clear one million hectares of peat swamp forest to create into rice paddies. The project failed, but vast areas of forest were cleared and canals built to drain the peat swamp. About 9,000 people live in the area, in villages along the Kapuas River. The map below shows the project area, covering parts of Block A and Block E of the Mega Rice Project. It covers an area of 120,000 hectares, about half of which is relatively intact forest (in Block E) and half of which is severely degraded (in Block A).
FOEI’s report contrasts the approach taken by the FCPF project with the reforestation carried out by a local group, Aliansi Rakyat Pengelola Gambut (ARPAG). While KFCP aims to plant trees on 3,000 hectares, since 1999, ARPAG has replanted 50,000 hectares with native tree species, rehabilitated 13,000 hectares of rattan and 5,000 hectares of rubber plantations. The report echoes a recent article in Germany’s Tagezeitung newspaper:
Additional concerns have been raised that the KFCP is not listening to local knowledge and wisdom about the suitability and appropriateness of various tree species, which may mean that newly planted seedlings do not survive.
Meanwhile, the World Bank is in the process of establishing an Indonesia Forest Carbon Trust, to be managed by the Bank. According to a Bank document dated December 2010,
“The trust fund’s development objective is to develop good practice for financing incentive payments to reduce deforestation and forest degradation to prevent further carbon emissions from this source. This would initially be done for sustainable practices at different stages of the design and implementation of the KFCP (Kalimantan Forest and Climate Partnership), through payment distribution mechanisms to be designed as an activity under the KFCP.”
The World Bank will manage an A$8.4 million trust fund. Payments from this fund will be for the following, according to the Bank:
Input-based: immediate remuneration or other direct benefits linked to adopting and implementing interventions, such as building check weirs, planting trees, or eliminating fire use on peat soils.
Performance-based: This will include two types: (i) Output based: annual payments for sustaining interventions so as to achieve the desired results, such as maintaining check weirs to ensure desired water table levels are maintained, protecting forest from encroachment, or reducing the incidence and extent of fire; and (ii) Outcome-based: payments commensurate with greenhouse gas emissions reductions, initially as a proxy for a future forest carbon market but possibly later based on tradable credits in a real carbon market.
For more than two years, local communities have been voicing their concerns about the FCPF project through a series of letters and statements. With the World Bank’s involvement, through the management of the trust fund, the Bank’s safeguard policies will be triggered. It remains to be seen whether this will present an opportunity for communities or whether it will make matters worse.