in Indonesia

Interview with Frank Momberg, Fauna and Flora International: “A community forestry REDD+ programme rolled out nationwide would have a large influence on reducing deforestation and empowering local people”

Interview with Frank Momberg, Fauna and Flora International, in Jakarta, March 2012.

REDD-Monitor: Please start with some background about FFI and about FFI’s involvement in Indonesia.

Frank Momberg: FFI is the world’s oldest conservation organization, founded in 1903. It is based in the United Kingdom and works in 40 countries worldwide. We’ve been in Asia for a long time, our first work in the region started in India in 1935 and we have been in Indonesia for several decades, working on protected area and forest conservation issues. FFI’s main focus in Indonesia has always been protected area management and biodiversity conservation. We have been formally involved in climate change issues since the year leading up to the Bali COP.

REDD-Monitor: How long have you been in Indonesia?

Frank Momberg: I’ve been in Indonesia for almost 20 years. I started working on indigenous land rights mapping and community forestry, initially in Lampung and West Kalimantan. The KDTI [Kawasan Dengan Tujuan Istimewa – A special forest area dedicated to community forest management] in Krui, Lampung, was one of the first acknowledgements of community rights in forests in Indonesia.

Then I worked as a trainer on land rights with various organizations training local communities and local NGOs and mapping community rights throughout Indonesia from Papua to Kalimantan, from Aceh to Nusa Tenggara Timur.

My focus then shifted to working on collaborative protected area management and biodiversity conservation until I became involved in climate change issues and REDD about eight years ago.

REDD-Monitor: And how long have you been with FFI?

Frank Momberg: I’ve been with FFI for almost 12 years now. After 10 years of working in Indonesia, mostly with WWF, I started working with FFI in Indochina, in Vietnam and Cambodia for six years, which was very refreshing. It gave me new perspectives on community based forest management that didn’t yet exist in such forms in Indonesia. In 2004 I returned to Indonesia as FFI’s Asia Director for Programme Development, based in Jakarta.

REDD-Monitor: How many people does FFI have working on REDD in Indonesia?

Frank Momberg: At the moment FFI has about 20 staff working on REDD issues, most of them based in West Kalimantan, Aceh and Jambi.

REDD-Monitor: Does FFI have a formal position on REDD?

Frank Momberg: Yes, we have a formal policy statement and we have a set of guiding principles. The policy states how we engage with REDD, including issues such as free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

FFI’s strength has been REDD+ demonstration activities and advising on sub-national REDD+ policies, while providing input to national REDD+ policies based on lessons learned in the field. Our work started out from real forest problems on the ground, responding to immediate deforestation issues and developing REDD+ interventions being with the intention to provide a potential long-term finance mechanism for conservation.

REDD-Monitor: Is FFI involved in any of the Working Groups under the REDD+ Task Force?

Frank Momberg: Yes, we are. FFI is taking a number of approaches to REDD+ in Indonesia, through field based demonstration activities and through policy work, which relate to the Task Force’s work. One model that we are supporting very actively is REDD+ restoration concessions for biodiversity conservation. We have a pilot project in West Kalimantan that has already been validated under the VCS [Verified Carbon Standard] and is currently in the auditing process for the CCBA [Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance] Standard.

We are a regional leader in development of community forestry REDD+, with demonstration activities now in West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and Jambi. We are also providing national policy support for community forestry REDD+, primarily through the Ministry of Forestry working group for community empowerment, which is lead by the Social Forestry Department. We are also collaborating with the Ministry of Forestry REDD+ Working Group and with the REDD+ Task Force.

REDD-Monitor: Could you describe how FFI came to be involved in the Ulu Masen project in Aceh province.

Frank Momberg

Frank Momberg: During the post-tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation of Aceh, forest conservation issues were high on the agenda. We saw a chance after the tsunami to work on a sub-national agenda for forest conservation and post-tsunami sustainable re-construction. REDD+ was one of the opportunities for sustainable financing for conservation.

Our work in Aceh focused on strengthening indigenous customary forest owners, Mukims, to map customary land, facilitate their participation in post-tsunami land-use planning (perencanaan tata ruang) processes at district and provincial level. We worked primarily in Aceh Jaya and expanded to four other kabupatens [districts]. This participatory planning process resulted in the Ulu Masen Ecosystem’s designation in the proposed provincial spatial plan as a strategic area (kawasan strategis) for the delivery of environmental services.

We had the opportunity of working very closely with the Government of Aceh and subsequently with the Government of Papua, on climate change policies. In those early days, the sub-national policy development was racing ahead of national policy development and FFI was instrumental in providing technical assistance to the provincial government in developing the logging ban for Aceh, evaluating concessions and developing the institutional multi-stakeholder framework of Aceh Green, which was a vision for rebuilding a better and more sustainable Aceh following the tsunami.

FFI’s Aceh REDD+ programme focused on technical capacity building and assistance and policy advice to the Government of Aceh. For the Ulu Masen project, we initially worked with the Government of Aceh and Carbon Conservation (a potential REDD+ investor). However, we no longer have a relationship with Carbon Conservation. Now we strictly just support government and local stakeholders because only by being independent can we follow through with our work.

We have a much wider sustainable forest agenda where REDD+ is only one important component. We work a lot on bringing community members (such as ex-combatants, ex-illegal loggers, ex-wildlife poachers and vulnerable youth groups) into human-wildlife conflict mitigation and forest protection, providing long-term employment. We have developed multi-stakeholder mechanisms to tackle illegal logging. With this support to the government and key stakeholders we are basically already delivering on REDD+ even without having the financial mechanism in place yet.

I have to emphasize this, because we are often misquoted by media reports that say we own a REDD+ project in Aceh. We don’t, the Government of Aceh does, and it had an agreement with Carbon Conservation for REDD+ investment. We are providing technical assistance to the government to support his REDD+ initiatives and strengthen the role of local communities and local government in REDD+.

REDD-Monitor: You’ve explained that FFI doesn’t actually have a direct contractual relationship with Carbon Conservation, but isn’t FFI involved in the same project?

Frank Momberg: FFI is providing technical assistance to the government. That includes REDD+ and the work to protect the Ulu Masen ecosystem is embedded within that. We have worked with all stakeholders to revise the Aceh spatial plan and provided capacity building and technical assistance to the government.

Ulu Masen is now a Provincial Strategic Area, as designated in the proposed provincial spatial plan, so it has a clear vision of maintaining forest functions and environmental benefits for the Aceh people. And that’s the vision, with or without private investors which is just a sustainable financing model.

REDD-Monitor: In May 2011, Carbon Conservation was 50% bought up by a Canadian Mining Company, East Asia Minerals. Do you see a risk that the Ulu Masen project will allow East Asia Minerals to greenwash new mining projects?

Frank Momberg: Because FFI has no relationship at all with Carbon Conservation at this stage, it’s not very sensible for us to comment on a mining company buying a stake in the company. It’s certainly a reputational risk to them, but I have to clarify that the Canadian mining company does not have an exploitation license they only have an exploration license. Just to be correct on that matter.

REDD-Monitor: But East Asia Minerals said in their press release when they bought 50% of Carbon Conservation, that they are hoping that the fact they have an investment in a REDD project means that they may be more likely to get future mining concessions.

Frank Momberg: That’s the Government of Aceh’s decision. Regardless, FFI’s role remains clear. From day one we did not have a commercial REDD+ project in Aceh. We had a critical role in facilitating the development of a relationship between the Aceh government and private investors, including Merrill Lynch. The role we had was in the initial phase when we hoped that we could really make this happen through a civil society, private sector and government partnership. FFI was asked to join the steering committee overseeing the Carbon Conservation investment project. However, we then stepped back from that role to focus on capacity building for REDD+.

In the early days, we provided significant FFI funding and professional legal advice to get a fair deal for the government, which is in the interest of the people of Aceh province. We have always just worked in collaboration with the Government of Aceh and the local constituency that they represent. With some of the world’s best legal advisors, from the UK and from New Zealand, we were able to boost the governor’s confidence and ability to engage in such a new kind of business deal.

The Ulu Masen project was the first REDD+ pilot in Indonesia, chartering untested waters and it is part of a pilot project’s objectives to learn from successes as well as shortcomings to inform REDD+ development in Indonesia.

REDD-Monitor: Have any carbon credits been sold from Ulu Masen?

Frank Momberg: No.

REDD-Monitor: Have the local communities in Ulu Masen received any benefits from the project?

Frank Momberg: Now we have to specify what the Ulu Masen project is. FFI’s Ulu Masen project has REDD+ elements for sustainable financing, but it’s a sustainable forest management programme for the Ulu Masen ecosystem. Our project is not a REDD+ commercial pilot. Our Ulu Masen project is donor funded, while Carbon Conservation always had a separate commercial project.

REDD-Monitor: Is it the same area?

Frank Momberg: Yes, it’s the same area. We work with local government and local people to protect the forest and to ensure that they would receive fair benefits from any commercial REDD+ project.

REDD-Monitor: Let’s talk about some of FFI’s other REDD projects in Indonesia, Gunung Palung, in West Kalimantan, for example.

Frank Momberg: We don’t actually have a REDD project in Gunung Palung National Park. We had a long term engagement with Gunung Palung National Park, focusing on collaborative protected area management and orangutan conservation.

Beyond Gunung Palung National Park in the Gunung Palung peatswamp forest landscape, FFI is piloting REDD+ interventions to address planned deforestation in un-protected forests. These forests are classified as conversion forests, and are contiguous with Gunung Palung NP. I think it’s one of the earliest REDD+ engagements. We started, obviously, with the drivers of deforestation. The main driver of deforestation in Ketapang District is rampant conversion of peat swamp and lowland forest into oil palm plantations. Licenses for oil palm development have in recent years not only been issued on conversion forest, but even on protection and permanent production forest land, in some cases multiple licenses have been issued on the same piece of land. In order to address these immediate deforestation threats, we have been involved for almost five years now in district and provincial spatial planning, to re-zone high conservation value forests (HCVF), especially deep peat forest areas, as limited production forest or protection forest. Moreover we have collaborated with oil palm license holders to identify and protect HCVF within concessions or HCVF areas to be taken out of the concession and to be designated as village forests.

We’ve taken the same approach in Kapuas Hulu District, so in two Kabupaten in West Kalimantan. And I think major REDD+ targets have been achieved through spatial planning. We have succeeded in dramatically reducing areas that have been slated for conversion and encouraged all stakeholders and government agencies to reclassify conversion forest into permanent production forest. These areas have been largely re-zoned as limited production forest rather than protection forests, because we wanted the opportunity for indigenous communities that claim those forests to develop community forestry models or to develop ecological restoration concession on these lands, which would not be possible if the forest would be designated as protection forest or conservation area.

In Kapuas Hulu, we largely succeeded with all the proposed land swaps and land changes. The government has basically re-zoned most peat swamp forests in the conversion forest category as permanent production forest. I would say that in Kapuas Hulu that we achieved 80% of our goal in terms of saving forest that was threatened by legal planned conversion, while in Ketapang our success rate was lower because of serious vested interests by oil palm license holders and due to legal precedents (existing licenses), so it was more difficult for the government to re-classify the land in favor of sustainable management.

REDD-Monitor: Why would the companies agree to these re-classifications? What’s in it for them?

Frank Momberg: Re-zoning was largely done for areas of planned conversion without overlapping licenses. If an oil palm concession had a legitimate license than we facilitate HCVF assessment and RSPO (sustainable palm oil) certification if the company excludes HCVF from conversion.

REDD-Monitor: So the company basically loses their license to convert that forest?

Frank Momberg: Well, as I said, in Kapuas Hulu we were in the lucky situation that we had conversion forest that didn’t have licenses on it yet. These are areas that the government had planned for conversion but did not yet have a legal license held by any company. Therefore we achieved a great deal by having these areas re-assigned towards production. It’s like a land swap.

In Ketapang we have been able to do that to a certain degree where licenses have lapsed. There are several permits for oil palm concessions. You have an Izin Lokasi [Location Permit] first which is only valid for two years. If the company fails to develop the land, then that license lapses. Once a company has a HGU, Hak Guna Usaha [business license to cultivate] then a legal right has been established and the company has legal rights to convert. Then there is nothing that can stop it from a legal perspective, unless you document that it’s deep peat and thereby in violation of Indonesia’s environmental laws, or engage with them on maintaining HCVF within the concession and pursue RSPO certification.

A lot of the licenses are on deep peat, and in Ketapang we have been able to stop the process at both local and national level, to stop the Ministry of Forestry from releasing land with deep peat for conversion (e.g. PT Sungai Putri Lestari). In the Sungai Putri case the area is a conversion forest and the company only had a Location Permit and we were able to stop the process towards a HGU (business licence) because we documented that the area was deep peat. Subsequently, this area was reclassified as Hutan Lindung Gambut [Protected Peat Forest] because of its properties according to the law. The spatial planning law is actually very detailed. The problem is whether it is applied in that level of detail in the districts. But looking at slope inclination, river buffers, at peat depth and so forth it gives you a lot of tools to support environmental spatial planning. In Ketapang the most important intervention was spatial planning and it’s a very successful tool to tackle deforestation, at least planned deforestation. We spent a lot of effort on capacity building, training and working with BAPPEDA (Indonesia’s spatial planning agency) and relevant stakeholders, so that they have full ownership of the spatial planning process and the final plan. In both Ketapang and Kapuas Hulu we facilitated a public consultation process.

Having these spatial plans re-aligned allows us to maintain critical areas of high conservation value forest as permanent forest estate. We have also been able to convince district governments to support ‘forested peat swamp areas on non-state forest land’ (APL – Area Penggunaan Lain) to be considered as Hutan Adat [Customary Forest] or Kawasan Lindung Gambut [Peat Protected Areas] to protect the High Conservation Value Forest. If communities claim customary rights for forest on non-state forest land (APL) then we facilitate the designation of customary forest by the district government (Hutan Adat decree). If it is state forest land, we facilitate re-zoning to limited protection forest through the spatial planning process and facilitate local communities to apply for a village forest designation (hutan desa). The approach to work with local communities has been first to increase awareness about REDD+ and the environmental services forests provide, followed by community based forest mapping, inventory and management planning and designation of customary or village forest. Communities joined based on the principle of self-selection and full participatory process is applied to ensure free and prior, informed consent (FPIC).

In Kapuas Hulu we have facilitated another REDD+ model which is an ecological restoration concession with multi-stakeholder management. We facilitate the development of restoration concession in collaboration with a partner company, BioCarbon, with investment from Macquarie Capital, Global Forest Partners and the International Finance Corporation [IFC]. FFI’s role is facilitation of the consultation process and providing technical assistance for the carbon science, and development of the Project Design Document. Our aim is to ensure that projects being developed with private investment set the bar in terms of biodiversity and community outputs. We see VCS and CCB as the basis to build more stringent project design that will ensure long term viability of the project both from the community and biodiversity perspective but also from a commercial perspective. So it’s a partnership between private sector investors, FFI as an NGO, and engagement with local community forest users and customary land owners, and local government.

The Danau Siawan Belida restoration concession area consists of mostly deep peat swamp forest. From day 1 we started with REDD+ awareness and stakeholder consultations at all levels, at community level, facilitating mapping of local community forest use and customary tenure, consultations at district level and provincial level. We commissioned an in-depth anthropological study, probably the most comprehensive in the context of a REDD pilot project. The study was done by Universitas Indonesia’s anthropology department and involved anthropologists living for several months with the communities to understand community institutional frameworks, customary rights, rules and regulations for natural resource use of the forest area.

FFI is collaborating with local indigenous peoples’ NGOs (Kaban & Lanting Borneo) to facilitate the FPIC process. At the moment we are facilitating a participatory project design process with local communities, local government and NGOs to identify the drivers of deforestation and develop mitigation measures and establish a collaborative forest management framework. As it’s a concession, the formal tenure is a license issued by the Ministry of Forestry, a long-term lease for the area. Because there are customary owners a joint management model has to be developed that is based on free, prior and informed consent and acknowledgement that customary communities have principle ownership of the forest.

The process to obtain the license is still ongoing and awaiting final approval by the Ministry of Forestry. The license will be owned by an Indonesian company PT WHN that is governed by an NGO (Yayasan) that has broad representation. The Danau Siawan Belida Project Design Document is soon to be uploaded to the CCBA website. We welcome comments on the PDD. For Danau Siawan Belida, we have deliberately gone for double validation and auditing (VCS and CCBA standards), because we wanted to make sure that not just the climate change related criteria, which are very strong represented in the VCS, are fully adhered to, but also the FPIC principles, community consultation and benefit sharing aspects of the project (CCBA).

REDD-Monitor: Please describe FFI’s project on the border of Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra.

Frank Momberg: We are facilitating a community forestry REDD programme in Jambi Province, in collaboration with our local partners, which is focusing on Merangin and Sarolangun Districts. We are supporting communities that would like to protect their forests and manage them sustainably, by assisting them both to secure legally recognized forest tenure, either as Hutan Desa, on state forest lands, or Hutan Adat on ‘other use lands’, and to increase local capacity to both sustainably manage and benefit from their forest resources. So again, it’s based on a principle of self-selection, working with communities that have specifically requested support. To date, 7 villages facilitated by FFI and local NGO and government partners in Merangin District have secured Village Forest licenses from the Minister of Forestry, and the District Head legalized an additional Customary Forest early this year.

Similar to the approach of the West Kalimantan community forestry REDD+ programme, we are in the early stages of facilitating community-based REDD+ in Jambi to support communities to access an additional source of income for their efforts to manage their traditional forest lands sustainably. To date, we have conducted information awareness workshops about climate change and REDD+; facilitated participatory village land-use mapping to inform development of village and forest management plans; and provided technical training and support for communities to be fully engaged in forest resource inventory, including collecting data on carbon stocks and biodiversity. This approach places communities in the driving seat and at the heart of all of forest management choices and activities. We are also working with communities to develop new economic opportunities around non-timber forest products, to access additional income sources. We implement community forestry REDD+ activities in West Kalimantan (Kapuas Hulu and Katapang), and Jambi and we have recently started to work in Central Kalimantan on Hutan Desa designation in Murung Raya District. At the same time we support a national policy dialogue on community forestry REDD+ with the social forestry department and the community empowerment working group in the Ministry of Forestry.

REDD-Monitor: Please describe FFI’s work on the palm oil sector and how this relates to REDD.

Frank Momberg: FFI is an active member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. We engaged several companies in identifying high conservation value forests in their concessions. FFI also facilitated a public consultation process to ensure that the companies apply RSPO standards and protect high conservation value forest in those concessions.

The oil palm REDD+ model does not necessarily mean that the oil palm concession owns a REDD+ project. Instead, we are working through a partnership approach involving local community stakeholders. One example is the oil palm concession PT KAL, that has been already in the final stage of securing a business license The company agreed to identify and exclude high conservation value forest from the concession and pursue RSPO certification.

In the past RSPO approaches often failed because high conservation value forest was identified by responsible companies but subsequently not managed. The forest was converted anyway, either by displaced shifting cultivation communities or when the district government handed out this high conservation value forest to another oil palm concession.

To avoid this vicious cycle, we initiated a REDD+ model. We engaged simultaneously with communities, local government and the Ministry of Forestry, to ensure that the HCV forests are transferred to community tenure through Hutan Desa designation. So the owners of the oil palm REDD+ model and the HCVF are local communities, not the oil palm companies.

The oil palm company doesn’t gain any financial rewards from this REDD+ model.

The first village we facilitated for excluding the forest from the concession area and designation as villaforest is Laman Satong. For several other villages the process is still ongoing, as the FPIC process takes time. All community members have to agree to the model before it can happen. It’s a self-selection process. We can only have a Hutan Desa if that’s what the village wishes to do and if neighboring communities agree.

The oil palm company doesn’t gain any financial rewards from this REDD+ model. The first village we facilitated for excluding the forest from the concession area and designation as village forest was Laman Satong For several other villages the process is still ongoing, as the FPIC process takes time. All community members have to agree to the model before it can happen. It’s a self-selection process. We can only have a Hutan Desa if that’s what the village wishes to do and if neighbouring communities agree.

Laman Satong has been the first village because its forest had a long history of customary land ownership. In the neighbouring communities overlapping with PT. KAL the process is still ongoing, as villagers they don’t have a customary claim to the forest. However as forest users and forest fringe communities that depend on the peat swamp forest, they are eligible to apply for village forest designation. This coastal peat swamp forest is very important not only for its enormous carbon stocks but also other environmental services. The forest is a very narrow stretch in the coastal zone between the ocean and rice fields. Without the peat swamp forest, salt water could penetrate into the ground water. Therefore local communities have a vital interest in maintaining these forests.

We did consider the possibility of the oil palm company becoming a REDD+ co-investor, holding the license for the land. We decided against this because of the legal environment. It is difficult to maintain forest within an oil palm business license as local district governors often regard this as un-utilised land which can be re-allocated to other oil palm concessions that are not willing to comply with the RSPO standards. We also we felt it was important that communities could benefit as much as possible from any potential carbon credits.

REDD-Monitor: This is all a long way away from the early descriptions of REDD, which claimed that if we put a price on the carbon in forests then it will stop deforestation. What you’ve described is clearly quite complicated and involves a lot of preparation.

Frank Momberg: Yes, the economic incentive is key one element, but not the only one. In fact a lot of the communities in the Kerinci Seblat buffer zone, for example, want to support a REDD+ initiative because they believe that they would also benefit from other environmental services provided by their forest. The forests of the Kerinci Seblat Landscape are critical watersheds that secure water supply for micro-hydro installations and irrigated rice fields. Communities had experiences with landslides, caused by illegal logging and forest clearance. Also communities in this area have a long history of customary ownership. Therefore they want formal recognition of their claim over these forests and to avoid loss of access to these resources either to private sector concessions or opportunistic land grabs. However the communities typically lack the financial means to keep the drivers of deforestation at bay, and this is where REDD is important.

In any case it still needs to be seen how both REDD+ voluntary markets and fund-based mechanisms develop. We are very careful not to raise expectations and communities subscribe voluntarily, on a self-selected basis to whether they want to establish Hutan Desa and, subsequently, whether to participate in community-based REDD+.

Our community forest programme in Jambi resulted from the effort of a very broad of coalition of NGOs to cancel an industrial pulp and paper plantation in Merangin District. With NGO support the communities succeeded in ousting the pulp and paper company. After long opposition, eventually the Ministry of Forestry approved the cancellation of the concession. FFI, several local NGOs and the district government have since worked in collaboration on the ambitious Hutan Desa programme in Merangin, to facilitate forest conservation by empowering local forest users to manage the forests sustainably and avoid potential allocation of the forest area to another plantation concession.

That’s the vision behind the community forestry REDD+ model. We also think that in the future there could be bundled services payments. It might not just be carbon but could also include water service payments.

In some places, of course, local communities choose to join hands with oil palm concession and do not choose community forestry REDD. It’s their right to do so. Whether the benefits from REDD exceed the opportunity and transaction costs is not a simple equation and it differs from community to community. It depends on their relationship to the forest, their dependence on the forest, it depends on side-specific opportunity costs, and their experience of land grabs by oilpalm companies.

For community forestry REDD+ it is important to develop economies of scale, because it is impossible or very difficult for a single community to access markets and sell voluntary credits. One possible mechanism, which I’m very much in favour of, is to follow the Vietnamese community forestry model and create a fund-based mechanism that would put money directly into community bank accounts for successful forest protection. The possibility for such financial mechanisms already exists in Indonesia. Communities can open bank accounts through village institutions or co-operatives. So it’s feasible to get money directly transferred to the village level for payments for forest protection. A community forestry REDD+ programme rolled out nationwide would have a large influence on reducing deforestation and empowering local people. Community forestry REDD+ lends itself to fund-based approaches. We prepare communities so that they could access the emerging opportunity. If there is no national or international REDD+ based mechanism, we can still access voluntary carbon credits for verified emission reductions based on audits by VCS and CCBA standards that we facilitate.

REDD-Monitor: What is FFI’s position on carbon trading?

Frank Momberg: To realize REDD+, significant resources have to be mobilized. Public financing will not be sufficient to realize that financing. So in the long term a trading system can contribute towards financing a global REDD+ mechanism.

However, FFI is not either just pro-market or pro-fund-based. There are multiple approaches that can be a combination of fund-based and market-based approaches. The community forestry REDD+ program for Vietnam, seems to be a good option where the state would engage in a global trading mechanism while it implements a fund-based REDD+ disbursement mechanism to community forestry owners. With thousands of villages across the landscape, a community forestry REDD+ program that is implemented nationwide with a good governance system, solid audit and verification processes and fair benefit distribution mechanisms where funds reach communities directly might be a better option than individual voluntary market based projects.

REDD-Monitor: Does FFI itself trade carbon?

Frank Momberg: No, we are not a carbon broker. However we facilitate voluntary market investments in REDD+. We would also need to facilitate local communities to access buyers. But we do not act as either a broker or a trader of carbon credits.

REDD-Monitor: What is FFI’s response to the Cancún Agreement and to the Durban Platform as they relate to REDD? In particular the fact that the safeguards are behind the words “promote and support” and are weaker than many people hoped they would be.

Frank Momberg: I think we would agree with that. We include safeguards in our own policies. So it shouldn’t just be promote and support, and there should be a specific reference to free, prior and informed consent. It’s been a weak compromise. However, nevertheless significant progress has been made towards REDD+ in Cancun.

REDD-Monitor: What is FFI’s view of the US$1 billion Norway-Indonesia REDD programme?

Frank Momberg: I appreciate the Norwegian investment into REDD+, but I must say that a two-year moratorium that leaves a lot of primary forest outside the agreed moratorium areas, where existing licenses are not touched, even if they are just location permits, is not very ambitious. I think the government could have reviewed all location permits. The line should have been drawn for example with the plantation/ business licenses, because then clearly you would have to compensate companies that have already made significant investments and have full legal rights for plantation development. The moratorium only covers protected areas and the permanent production forests, while it ignores significant forest areas in the conversion forest category or forest that are on non-state forest land.

REDD-Monitor: Has FFI been involved in the debate on illegal logging in Indonesia?

Frank Momberg: Significantly, yes. We had projects that were dedicated to tracking illegal logging and wildlife crime, in particular in Kerinci and West Kalimantan. Combating forest crime has been a core area of competence of FFI, particularly related to protected area management.

In Kerinci Seblat and Gunung Palung National Parks, for example, we established Indonesia’s first integrated community-based patrols in collaboration with the national park authorities. We also supported local partners to establish community-based forest patrol groups in the Kerinci Seblat Landscape, where local communities and indigenous people participate in forest crime monitoring. FFI has been part of large civil society networks in West Kalimantan, the Kalimantan Anti-Illegal Logging Civil Society Network (KAIL), investigating forest crime, reporting forest crime, and providing training of forest rangers in combating forest crime, as well as fostering collaboration with the judiciary system and the police.

For a while, the partnership programme between Kerinci Seblat National Parkand FFI, led to the highest conviction rate of forest crime in any protected area in Indonesia. I think it has been a real success story, having established a deterrent to forest crime that has helped reduced forest loss and led to increases in the National Park’s tiger population. We definitely welcome the FLEGT agreement with the European Union. It’s been a massive success; I believe it’s the first time that we are actually tackling a key underlying core problem, which is trade as a global driver of deforestation. I think that if these kinds of principles about legality standards could be applied to the oil palm sector and the plantation sector we would get much further than with voluntary agreements such as the RSPO.

If we had legality standards for plantations, I think a lot of palm oil could not be produced because it has been planted illegally on production forests, or on deep peat. Then the company would not be able to sell into the European market. So I think the idea of using trade instruments is fantastic. It needs to encompass other specific countries, such as China, which are both, part of the problem and part of the solution.

REDD-Monitor: There have been four or five years of REDD discussions in Indonesia and there are more than 40 REDD projects. The president has come out very much in favour of REDD. At the same time oil palm concessions are expanding, mining concessions are expanding and Asia Pulp and Paper has announced that it is planning to build one of the world’s largest pulp mills. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about REDD in Indonesia?

Frank Momberg: I am in principle an optimist. I don’t believe that our work is for nothing. I do believe though in relation to the huge amounts of donor funding available in Indonesia the outputs are very limited. I think there is no doubt that we’ve not seen proportional success in relation to the investment into REDD+. I think some other countries, such as Vietnam, may achieve better results. While Vietnam is still experiencing forest degradation its forest cover is increasing. Forest sector interventions have been more successful than in Indonesia – certainly in terms of devolving authority over forests to local communities.

I have been quite disappointed that sub-national governments engaged in REDD+ have been discouraged rather than encouraged. Neither has the private sector been encouraged to engage in REDD+. In other Asian countries such as Nepal is much easier to develop a voluntary market project.

I find it almost a disgrace that after five years we still have no carbon credit sales from Indonesia on the voluntary market. This is mainly due to massive bureaucratic hindrances. You need lots of recommendations from national and local authorities and if you want to stay clean and do the right thing, well, then you sit and wait. Because a license based REDD+ system is not really different from licensing oil palms or licensing logging concessions. You still have the same politicians that could become subject to corruption. Without a simplified license system that is transparent and a good governance system in place, REDD+ is going to face the same problems as other licenses in relation to governance and corruption. Because FFI and our private sector partners are committed to zero corruption, and super clean governance, well, we have to hold out for months or even years to get one step further. Any other every private sector developer in this country can tell you how difficult it is to move forward on REDD+ on a project basis.

However, I do think we are making progress in Indonesia. I am cautiously optimistic.

This interview is the ninth in a series of interviews with key REDD actors in Indonesia. REDD-Monitor gratefully acknowledges funding from ICCO for this project.

PHOTO Credit: Stephan Röhl on flickr.

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  1. Thank you for the very interesting and enlightening interview.

    With such persons working at a local level there is corroborative evidence that one aspect of my own initiative is developing aspects of fundamental philosophical similarity with FFI, or at least with Frank Momberg’s wonderful input in those areas of Indonesia as represented.

    Chris is it possible to contact Frank directly, through access of his site in Indonesia

  2. Interesting interview with Frank Momberg on the activities of FFI and REDD in West Kalimantan.

    The key ingredient in all REDD activities is transparency as many stakeholders are involved which makes REDD difficult to manage.

    After receiving a copy via a NGO operating in West Kalimantan of the MOU FFI had signed with the District head of Kapuas Hulu West Kalimantan and Macquarie Bank,it became very interesting to commit academic research time on the operations of REDD for which FFI was providing management support skills.

    Although the reception in Jakarta and Putussibau was welcoming, it was extremely difficult to get sufficient up to date background information on the FFI REDD project and impossible to join the frequent research trips FFI made to the communities in the Danau Siawan Belida Project to witness the activities and communicate to the community independently. (Even when it was made clear that my presence would be cost neutral to FFI and time scheduling was no problem)

    According to independent sources the community at the Danau Siawan Belida Project have staged protest to the activities of FFI at one point in time.

    Surely every project has difficulties, but it makes me wonder what motivated FFI for being sensitive for a single independent assessor reporting on site of their project progress.

    Johan Weintré
    Flinders Asia Centre
    Flinders University
    Adelaide SA 5001

  3. @Dr Nigel Miles – Thanks for your comment. It is possible to contact Frank directly. It’s usually very easy to find someone’s email addresses when you know which organisation they work for.

    Please click on this link for a demonstration:

    If that doesn’t work, lots of people have a gmail account:

  4. Couldn’t agree more with Frank’s euphemistic wording that “in relation to the huge amounts of donor funding available in Indonesia the outputs are very limited”.