in Indonesia, Norway

“Deforestation is inevitable.” Indonesia promises to deforest another 14 million hectares in the next six years

“Deforestation is inevitable,” Hadi Daryanto, secretary-general of Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry, said in August 2014. He told the Jakarta Post that the government would go ahead with its plans to clear 14 million hectares of “degraded” forest.

The Jakarta Post reported Daryanto as saying that Indonesia’s growth had “forced the government to provide more space for development needs, such as infrastructure, energy and food supply”.

Indonesia seems determined to maintain its place as the world’s number one forest destroyer.

Earlier this week, the website posted a series of photographs from this year of ongoing deforestation in Indonesia. The photograph above comes from the series, which runs under the headline, “Heartbreaking Photos of Deforestation in Indonesia, Where They’re Cutting Down Trees Faster Than Anywhere Else”.

No illegal logging?

Daryanto reassured us that there would be no illegal logging or “other environmentally detrimental activities”. It’s not clear why Daryanto mentioned illegal logging. Allocating 14 million hectares of forest to be cleared does nothing to address illegal logging.

UPDATE – 12 September 2014: As “peat” points out in a comment below, the allocation of 14 million hectares of concessions could in itself be illegal, thus increasing the likelihood of illegal logging. (See also my response to “peat”.

Daryanto explained the government’s cunning plan to prevent illegal logging:

“We will provide the forested land information on our website and we will invite people to monitor the process by using the satellite imagery to supervise the land.”

And by awarding concessions on 14 million hectares of “degraded” forest.

Baseline calculation?

Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry recently set a baseline emission level of 0.816 gigatons per year. The number is based on average emission levels between 2000 and 2006. The Ministry did not provide any further information about how it arrived at this number.

Agus Sari, deputy chair of Indonesia’s REDD+ Agency, said,

“The ministry only said that they used emission data from 2000 to 2006, but the real calculation to get the figure was never revealed.”

It is likely that the Ministry of Forestry plucked the number out of thin air, just as it makes up its deforestation. According to the Ministry of Forestry, deforestation in Indonesia is decreasing. A recent study in Nature Climate Change based on satellite imagery revealed that Indonesia’s deforestation has increased since the moratorium started in 2011. Which is hardly surprising, since the moratorium does not apply to existing concessions and has gaping loopholes for mining and energy crops.

Lifting the log export ban?

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Forest Concessionaires Association (APHI) is asking the new government to allow export of logs from Indonesia. Since 2001, Indonesia has had a ban on log exports, put in place in an attempt to reduce the rampant logging that followed a reduction in log export taxes under a deal with the IMF following the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.

Nana Suparna told the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) that log prices in Indonesia have fallen because of the log export ban. According to Suparna, in Indonesia loggers can sell meranti logs for US$120-130 per cubic metre. In Japan, the price is almost three times as high. For merbau, the price in Indonesia is about US$300 per cubic metre, or half the price in China.

ITTO reports that data from the Tropical Timber Market Report states that Indonesia’s Free on Board price for merbau sawnwood is under US$600 per cubic metre. In China, the price is between US$1400-2200 per cubic metre.

This proposal has been around for a while. In December 2013, Hadi Daryanto explained to the Jakarta Post that the proposal applied to community plantations (HDR) or industrial plantation concessions (HTI). Only companies that hold certificates under the timber legality verification system (SVLK) could export timber.

APHI’s proposal appears to apply to all logs, not just from plantations.

Leave a Reply

  1. This article implies – wrongly – that the process of allocating that 14 million hectares can not have been linked to illegality.

    For example, 1) given the findings of Indonesia’s constitutional court, the state might not have authority to allocate much of that area for clearance, and 2)the decision to allocate so much land might be a “thank you present” to those who donated to the recent Presidential campaign.

    Clearing such a large area for palm oil might be very unwise – if, as it seems, the market has reached a peak in the countries to which in total, Indonesia and Malaysia supply the majority of their simply refined palm oil exports.

  2. @peat (#1) – Thanks for this. You’re right – the process of allocating the 14 million hectares of concessions could in itself be illegal. (Many of Indonesia’s existing concessions are of dubious legality – overlapping concessions are common, bribes are paid for concessions, etc.)

    I was trying to make the point that allocating 14 million hectares of new concessions does absolutely nothing to address illegal logging in Indonesia. I’ve deleted this sentence, “Of course the forest clearance wouldn’t be illegal if the government approved it in the first place,” because as you point out, it implies that allocating the concessions would be legal. I’ve added an update in the post linking to your comment.

  3. policy should be reviewed
    Infrastructure: the replacement of large areas of forest area so it can be maintained
    food: the mechanization of the cultivation of food crops to produce
    Energy: biomass-based energy development with the support of technology