in Indonesia, Norway, West Papua

After one year, Indonesia’s forest moratorium isn’t working

After one year, Indonesia's forest moratorium isn't workingIndonesia is now half way through its two-year moratorium on forest concessions. The moratorium was implemented as part of a US$1 billion REDD deal between Indonesia and Norway. Most of Norway’s money is to be performance based, and given the results so far, it doesn’t look like Norway will be handing over much cash any time soon.

The Ministry of Forestry seems to have come up with its own version of REDD, not unlike ex-Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo’s “Show me the money” approach. Darori, director general of the Forest Protection and Nature Conservation at the Ministry told IPS that Norway’s offer of US$1 billion is not enough. “The Ministry of Forestry needs a budget of Rp 5 trillion (US$538 million) per year to fight deforestation,” Darori said. Indonesia needs “the support of the world”, he added. It seems unlikely that the Ministry of Forestry is suggesting that this money would be performance based.

In an interview with Reuters this week, Norway’s environment minister, Bård Vegar Solhjell, made the first critical public statement from any Norwegian official about Indonesia’s moratorium. He told Reuters that the moratorium is not enough for Indonesia to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s goal of 41% emissions reduction by 2020:

“We know that the moratorium itself is not sufficient to reach the climate mitigation pledged, or to stop deforestation in the speed that is necessary… It’s a very progressive pledge but it’s also very challenging to actually put it into place.”

CIFOR’s Daniel Murdiyarso points out that the moratorium has increased transparency and is part of a long process of improving governance in the forestry sector in Indonesia. He is, however, very clear about what the moratorium can achieve:

“Very often the moratorium is picturised as the way to reduce emissions. I think it’s quite misleading to say that with the moratorium we will reduce emissions at all. But it is an enabling environment towards how to reduce emissions.”

(This quotation is taken from the video of the interview with Murdiyarso. In the post on the CIFOR Forest News Blog, the words “at all” are replaced by the word “significantly”.)

The problems with the moratorium can be summarised as follows:

  • It doesn’t apply to existing concessions or secondary forest;
  • It isn’t legally binding;
  • It only lasts two years; and
  • It contains enough loopholes to drive a fleet of bulldozers through.

The destruction of part of the Tripa peat swamp forest in Sumatra highlights some of the problems with the moratorium. Aceh’s governor awarded a concession to palm oil company PT Kallista Alam after the moratorium on new concessions was announced. Every six months, the maps indicating the area of the moratorium are amended. At the first revision, in November 2011, the area of the concession was removed from the maps (meaning the moratorium no longer applied to the concession area). After a huge campaign in Indonesia and internationally, the moratorium map has now been amended to include the concession area. In the meantime a large percentage of the concession has been cleared and burned.

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the head of the REDD+ Task Force, told Reuters that,

“The case of Kallista Alam in Aceh is the typical problem we are facing … some parts have been turned to palm oil plantations, some have been burned, and it turned out the permit does not exist.”

A press release from the REDD+ Task Force is posted below.

While the Indonesian government should be praised for starting to do the right thing at Tripa (and the company might even be held responsible for the damage), unfortunately Tripa is not an isolated incident. The country loses more than one million hectares of forest each year. The Tripa concession area only covers 1,605 hectares.

Recently, in a comment on REDD-Monitor, Papua Forest Eye posted a link to photographs of the destruction that is now taking place in Merauke to make way for the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE). Is this really what Indonesia’s version of REDD is supposed to look like?

Click to see larger versions

(Click on the image above to see the larger versions.)

Download here:

REDD+ Task Force
REDD+ Task Force press release (133.4 kB).


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  1. I was wondering why Norway is sleeping while indonesian government cheat them. Its already clear that indonesian government (especially ministry of forestry) is doubt to implementing moratorium. My critical question is why they (norway) didn’t gave the money just to re-buy the existing forest and plantation licenses that been released by the government. If the permission is topped with the money that norway paid so most of part that identified treated by deforestation and degradation is decreased. We have solve one problems of emission????